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  • Honeyland

    Honeyland

    ★★★★

    Beekeeper Hatidže Muratova and her mother may well be the most memorable movie subjects of the year. Muratova loves being filmed and she doesn't hide it. And her mother suggests the ancient Chunibala Devi from PATHER PANCHALI, but with a wicked sense of humor. "I know I'm a nuisance to you", she tells her daughter, "but I don't intend on dying". (More warning than apology). These two singlehandedly keep mischief alive in the mountains. All else is hardship.

    This is…

  • Little Women

    Little Women

    ★★★

    Shockingly traditional retelling of Alcott's classic novel. A movie of perfect loveliness--maybe too perfect. Greta Gerwig's direction is ambiguous. Hard to tell if she rejoices in all this buttery pleasantness or wants to distance herself from it. (It often seems like she wants it both ways). In any case, warmth wins out. Saoirse Ronan elevates the film. There's a great scene where she rejects a bit of literary criticism thrown at her and she responds with defiance, insecurity, vulnerability... she's…

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  • Parasite

    Parasite

    ★★★★½

    Spectacular shape-shifting satire on modern-day capitalism. (Poetic that it should not come from the West). Trespassing isn’t just the film’s delicious central concept: it’s Bong Joon-ho’s defining gift as an artist. Genre rules assume different functions in his films: events that pass for “plot twists” are actually jolts in tone revealing underlying truths.

    Sliding from the cramped to the spacious, PARASITE has been architecturally thought out. This isn't some Marxist class war: it's a struggle for vital breathing space. Astutely,…

  • Joker

    Joker

    ★★★

    A strange film oscillating between self-absorption and frankness. If the filmmaking is often cynical, the actor holding it together is most definitely not. Joaquin Phoenix gives a thrilling, major performance that turns ‘joy’ into a kind of macabre performance art: the depressed, mentally ill social misfit unable to experience “a single moment of happiness” in his life as our clown, our stand-up comedian. He exists in a total state of discomfort that in turn makes us uncomfortable. Faking happiness becomes…