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  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

    Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

    ★★★★

    I didn't connect with this one as immediately and powerfully as I did the first time around. There's no distinct end goal driving the action, as there was in "Vol. 1", and I think the first one benefited from being novel. Now we know the tone and the look and it's just not as captivating.

    That said, however, we get a lot of deepening characterization for most of the characters, in particular Gamora and her sister Nebula, and of course…

  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

    Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

    ★★★

    The first truly mature entry in the Potter series, with very little of the whimsy that marked the earlier chapters. Voldemort has finally manifested himself, his followers are terrorizing the wizarding world, and Harry finds himself trying to figure out how to be a leader when his friends look to him for guidance.

    This movie is something of a conundrum for me. While I enjoy the more grown-up tone and the feeling that things are finally starting to add up…

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  • Everybody Wants Some!!

    Everybody Wants Some!!

    ★★★★

    Richard Linklater is a master of movies that appear to have no plot and seem to be about nothing but which nevertheless capture... something. A moment, a feeling, an experience, the ineffable things that actually comprise a life. Like his masterful Before trilogy and Dazed and Confused (to which this film is a spiritual sequel if not a direct continuation), Everybody is a shapeless, messy amble through a constrained period of time in which nothing in particular really happens, but…

  • White Lightning

    White Lightning

    ★★

    The first of the "rednecks and fast cars" movies that briefly flourished in the mid-1970s, White Lightning is a curiously schizophrenic experience. Ostensibly a gritty, vengeance-driven action flick, the movie tends to veer toward the silly during its car-chase set pieces, where the seeds of Smokey and the Bandit -- which is either the pinnacle or the nadir of this genre, depending on how you feel about it -- are plainly visible. The climax especially suffers as a result, with…