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  • The Unknown Girl

    The Unknown Girl

    ★★★★

    Or, Diary of an Urban Priest.

    Doctor Davin becomes one of the most inspiring champions of conscience and hands-on healing in all of cinema. In what may be the Dardennes' most Bressonian film, there is power in this priestess's humble hands, whether she is listening to someone's troubled lungs, holding someone as they bow their heavy head, or receiving their confession.

    Embracing a style even more spare than usual, the Dardennes seem to pull back from their tendency toward subtle…

  • The Big Sick

    The Big Sick

    ★★★½

    My first-ever Seattle International Film Festival Opening Night Gala screening did not disappoint.

    Showalter's comedy is a big-hearted, big-laughs romantic comedy in which the true-story romance shines through the genre formulas to make meaningfully human impressions. Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Ray Romano, and Holly Hunter are a perfect ensemble. Supporting turns by Adeel Akhtar, Anupam Kher, and Zenobia Shroff could easily have been overplayed, but they create an endearing family portrait. I hope this movie finds the big audience it deserves.

    It didn't hurt to have Nanjiani and his wife Emily Gordon onstage before and after the film to underline the uniqueness of their story.

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  • Selma

    Selma

    ★★★★½

    Thank God Almighty.

    Director Ava Duvernay had a monumental task before her, making a high-profile motion picture focused on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, with a cast of famous names. What’s more, the closer the film has come to release, the more the headlines have shown us just how much we need a Great Film about Dr. King’s vision.

    Even great directors would probably have disappointed us. Think of Spielberg’s Lincoln: Hey, I loved it, but I acknowledge that it…

  • Moonlight

    Moonlight

    ★★★

    Impressively meditative? Yes. Acted with subtlety and tenderness? Yes. Remarkably restrained in dialogue and action? Yes. Interesting?

    ...

    ...

    Well, not for this particular moviegoer. It has nothing to do with the subject matter or context, both of which drew me eagerly to this film. As with The Fits earlier this year, I wanted to see a film that would bring to life communities and contexts that go sorely neglected on the big screen.

    And Moonlight does that. But I…