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  • Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

    Resident Evil: The Final Chapter


    Neveldine/Taylor editor Doobie White arguably wrests control of the Resident Evil franchise away from its faithful shepherd Paul W.S. Anderson in its final installment, replacing the director's erstwhile preference for a handful of jump scares peppered among more elegant long takes and geometrical composition in favor of a more traditional, initially frustrating series of telegraphed jump scares and erratic assemblage. But the great strength of these films is Anderson's interest in the underlying logic and aesthetic of video games (certainly…

  • Paterson



    Just as in love with this as I was at TIFF.

  • Made in Britain

    Made in Britain


    What a debut performance from Roth, an exposed nerve who manages to be tragic without ever attempting to procure sympathy for this violent, racist nihilist. An obvious reference point for the movie would be Mike Leigh's Naked, produced at the end of Thatcher's reign and not the midst of it, but Thewlis's Dostoevskian protagonist was far more given to philosophizing, so transparently pathetic that it was all too easy to actually listen to him. Crucially, Trevor flips the script, only…

  • Jackie



    Closed out the year with this, a film that is competently made and "ambitious" in all the dullest ways. There's something to the idea that JFK, the first president to understand TV and wield it as a weapon, was not the only one in his family to understand its power. We see Jackie in the past as curator of the White House as both living museum and a testament to its own symbolic power, even getting an entire TV special,…

  • I Am Not Your Negro

    I Am Not Your Negro


    The further we get from the 20th century, the more James Baldwin seems like its most important public American intellectual. His television appearances present an erudite, unassuming figure whose natural wit is visibly suppressed as collateral damage of his attempt to tamp down his rage. The Baldwin of interviews and debates is disarming in his clarity, presenting stark, strident analyses with such carefully worded poise, rendering the subjectivity of black life in almost clinically observant tones. Disgust creeps around the…

  • 13th



    The material itself is fairly basic for anyone who has even modestly attempted to track the US carceral state, but what I found so compelling about DuVernay's film was the skill of its assembly. Barring the repetitive hip-hop and soul transitions, which are, of course, culturally relevant as expressions of anguish and fury but do start to feel like padding, the film otherwise deftly stitches together outrages old and new. It weaves such a dense web of interconnected horrors and…

  • Doctor Strange
  • The Handmaiden

    The Handmaiden


    Just when I thought this was going to lapse into the usual arty emptiness of Park Chan-wook's filmography, all titillation and shock value rendered flat by overemphasis, the film takes a turn, then another, then three more, then back to the top to trickle down more twists and upheavals. Instead of plodding on about his simplistic, half-assed moralism about revenge, Park just lets loose, and for one of the few times in his career he is genuinely thrilling. Sometimes in…

  • Shin Godzilla

    Shin Godzilla


    Godzilla, having long ago become a cartoon character whose political importance faded away in the face of kaiju battles, returns to terrifying flesh, ironically, at the hands of an anime master. Anno's conception of the creature is well in line with the monsters of his Neon Genesis Evangelion: this is not a static being but a creature in constant evolutionary flux, responding to its energy intake and any threats by morphing and growing. As the nature of the nuclear threat…

  • Blind Detective

    Blind Detective


    I'm not quite as high on this as I was when I saw it in a packed house at TIFF13 and it brought the place down, but I'd still rank this in the upper tier of To's comedies. A neo-screwball procedural that swaps forensic for quasi-paranormal intuition and the loopy stage direction of Johnston dictating Ho's role-play to help him get into character of killers. The rambling narrative structure would be better served at To's usual ~90 minute running lengths…

  • Nat Turner: A Troublesome Property

    Nat Turner: A Troublesome Property


    Made 13 years ago, Charles Burnett's documentary is not only a daring piece of nonfiction more in line with contemporary works in true/false experimentation than typical PBS fare, it is also a preemptive antidote for the self-aggrandization of Nate Parker's film. In casting seven actors as Turner, Burnett foregrounds the manner in which the rebel, or maybe any historical figure (and certainly any figure like Turner), ceases to exist as an actual person and instead exists at the whims of…

  • Certain Women

    Certain Women


    A film of uncommon grace, redolent of Paterson in no serious way save for a shared confidence to be about nothing in particular but to suggest gulfs of meaning. Fuses the listless drifting and scanning personal portraits of Reichardt's early work with the increasing formalism of Night Moves and Meek's Cutoff. Foregrounds the director's love of half-told stories by divvying up the running time to three half-told stories, each of which nonetheless feels more complete than anything she's told to date. Maybe her best?