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  • Finian's Rainbow

    Finian's Rainbow

    ★★★

    52/100

    Fascinating to watch Coppola chafe at the Hollywood musical's conventions, and the movie repeatedly toggle between blatantly artificial sets and the Napa Valley. On the Town took the genre on location decades earlier, but it's still kinda remarkable to see Astaire, pushing 70, hoof his way over legitimately uneven ground—wonder what his insurance looked like. Show itself isn't great, with "Old Devil Moon" the only truly classic song (listen to someone as gifted as Petula Clark perform it and…

  • Asher

    Asher

    ★★★

    52/100

    Ultimately not that great (and likely inferior to plenty of recent films that I turned off after 10 minutes), but I got sucked in by Perlman's soulful stillness in the title role. He succeeds in partially redeeming the cliché of the world-weary hitman by wearing Asher's ennui lightly, treating contract killing as if it were any other vocational grind. Chemistry with Janssen is strong, too, building a relationship you want to root for. And while it'd been 16 years…

  • The Long Goodbye

    The Long Goodbye

    ★★★½

    62/100

    Second viewing, last seen December 2002 (right before I started rating older films). Without a review or any notes to consult, I'd assumed that my "problem" (relative to the retroactive consensus that it's a masterpiece; opinions were pretty sharply divided upon release) mostly involved accepting Gould as Marlowe, so this time I tried pretending that I'd never encountered any prior version of the character. Turns out what I really want is for this magnificently counterintuitive conception of Marlowe not…

  • If Beale Street Could Talk

    If Beale Street Could Talk

    ★★★

    56/100

    Didn't relish being one of the few dissenting voices on Moonlight—a film I saw twice, hoping to come around—but feel more sanguine about this slightly less heretical response, which is rooted mostly in standard literary-adaptation issues. Devising a visual analogue to Baldwin's supremely elegant prose style represents an almost insurmountable challenge, and Beale Street truly sings when Jenkins simply has his actors perform the book's dialogue with hushed authority. Everything else seems to fall away as Fonny and Daniel…

  • Black Panther

    Black Panther

    ★★★½

    67/100

    Barely feels like it belongs to the MCU (despite Civil War flashbacks), and is all the better for it. Indeed, I enjoyed this not so much as a superhero movie—T'Challa is arguably its least interesting character—but as a potent counterfactual vision of Africa, re-imagining that plundered continent as a secret technological powerhouse that regards "developed" nations with something approaching pity. Mythmaking should mean something, and Black Panther, unlike most of its predecessors in this franchise, dares to dream big,…

  • The Heiresses

    The Heiresses

    ★★

    36/100

    A.V. Club review. A bland, deeply incurious movie that manages to shortchange long-term relationships, dormant desire, lost social status, the connections we forge with possessions, and the gig economy, all in under 100 minutes.

  • Thoroughbreds

    Thoroughbreds

    ★★★★

    71/100

    Second viewing, no change. Was more conscious of how many times Finley abruptly racks focus, which could be a first-time filmmaker's over-reliance on one visual idea but equally might function as a sly means of suggesting that we're focused on the wrong thing, i.e. person. Also, I admire his willingness to indulge in truly blunt symbolism, like having Amanda enter the small space created by the wet bar as she advises Lily to think outside the box (you can…

  • Thor: Ragnarok

    Thor: Ragnarok

    ★★★

    51/100

    Mike Catches Up With All The MCU Movies He Skipped: An Odyssey Undertaken Solely For The Purpose Of Watching Black Panther Without Having Some Weird Anal-Retentive Breakdown (Please Do Not Waste Your Valuable Time Arguing With Mike In The Comments About How Dumb This Is, Just Accept His Sickness), Part 10 of 10. Flirts even harder than do the Guardians films with being a full-bore comedy, at times edging toward parody. And I guess watching all these things has…

  • Suspiria

    Suspiria

    ★★

    39/100

    Boasts one gruesomely effective setpiece (Susie unwittingly mangling Olga's body via dance) and one creepily memorable moment (a hypnotized/spellbound cop's sexual humiliation). Plus I wrote of the original that "Argento seems a bit torn regarding how to make witchcraft scary," and that's certainly not an issue here. Otherwise, ugh. Some folks automatically bridle at the word "pretentious," but rethinking Suspiria as a Holocaust drama can hardly be described any other way—this is very much the Guadagnino I'd previously kinda…

  • Spider-Man: Homecoming

    Spider-Man: Homecoming

    ★★★

    54/100

    Mike Catches Up With All The MCU Movies He Skipped: An Odyssey Undertaken Solely For The Purpose Of Watching Black Panther Without Having Some Weird Anal-Retentive Breakdown (Please Do Not Waste Your Valuable Time Arguing With Mike In The Comments About How Dumb This Is, Just Accept His Sickness), Part 9 of 10. Got actively angry for a moment when Watts not only has Spidey replicate Ferris Bueller's mad dash home through neighbors' yards but actually throws in a…

  • Come and See

    Come and See

    ★★★½

    69/100

    Second viewing, last seen 17 years ago. It's as horrifying as I remembered—basically a two-hour-plus scream of anguish, frequently so intense that it verges on unbearable. There's a bit more modulation in the first half, as when e.g. Flyora shares a smile with his giggling little sisters even as their mother is urging him to kill them all with an axe she's just handed him—the film takes her despair seriously while acknowledging that children wouldn't be able to do…

  • Life and Nothing More

    Life and Nothing More

    ★★★½

    66/100

    Might be underrating this, as it's mostly superb: a series of uninflected vignettes/impressions/conversations, variable in length (the shortest of them, which are plentiful and often consecutive, are like a non-comic version of what Baumbach and Gerwig have been doing lately), cumulatively creating a rich tapestry of African-American struggle and resilience. Much of the credit goes to Regina Williams, a non-pro who just owns the camera; the scene in which she methodically interrogates her persistent suitor outside a gas station,…