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  • In a Valley of Violence

    In a Valley of Violence

    ★★★★

    I'm pretty upfront about my favorable bias regarding Ti West, so I knew I was going to like when he first announced the project years ago. But now that I finally watched it, the film is a bit different than I imagined. The plot really is just an all-efficient distillation of the classic revenge story. But there's some real goofiness thrown in—this is an element I've really appreciated in (most of) West's films over the years, and it really works…

  • Aquaman

    Aquaman

    ★★½

    Some sequences are beautiful and almost hallucinatory. Other scenes are amazingly stupid (like, any time someone talks). The movie suffers from serious superhero movie bloat—I got close to permanently turning the thing off, but thankfully the final act came along and woke me up.

    Dumb dumb dumb with some beautiful stuff mixed in.

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  • My Neighbor Totoro

    My Neighbor Totoro

    ★★★★★

    A lot of the focus for this film is on the Totoro scenes, of which there are surprising few. (And that CATBUS, man. Insane!) But the rest of the movie hit all of the right buttons for me. Miyazaki always does an amazing job of capturing the small wonders of life, be it children steeling themselves to go into a dark attic (and then finding someone amazing) or the joy of enjoying a sunny day. Lovely stuff.

  • Inglourious Basterds

    Inglourious Basterds

    ★★★★

    Over the past decade, I've move from Tarantino fanboy to grumbling anti-QT acolyte. I'm neither of those now — he's certainly not my favorite filmmaker, but I appreciate his films and often like them (sometimes a lot).

    Tarantino loves movies, especially niche genre films. Tarantino loves mashing ideas together in a sort of Frankenstein's monster approach to cinema. He also loves doing whatever he wants, which can make his films joyously chaotic.

    Basterds is pure Tarantino, then — bloated in…