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  • Girl

    Girl

    ★★½

    The casting here doesn’t strike me as a problem, but Dhont’s approach definitely does, voyeuristically lingering over his male lead’s body as he asks the audience to shame other characters who would do the same. For its first half, this feels reasonably honorable (if somewhat misguided) in its attempts to offer an ultra-specific portrait of a contemporary trans youth. I can completely understand how this film could open hearts and minds, especially if it continued on this track… By its…

  • Three Faces

    Three Faces

    ★★★

    Panahi picks up a horror movie found-footage trope and recycles it for a not-particularly-urgent appeal for women's rights. Despite its mysterious setup, the film is a road movie at its heart, and most of its pleasures are to be found on the margins.

  • Jeremiah Terminator LeRoy

    Jeremiah Terminator LeRoy

    ★★★

    Dern and Stewart are definitely on point here, but there’s considerably less insight into what the oddity that was J.T. LeRoy meant than in the documentary Author. Ending your movie with Hole’s “Celebrity Skin” gets you in my good book, though.

  • Widows

    Widows

    ★★★

    Very much feels like the abbreviated adaptation of a TV miniseries that it is… I’m all for narrative economy, but there are too many spinning plates here for my tastes, and paying lip service to each of them with a brief scene or two feels inadequate… and it’s all in the service of what? Not without its moments, both in terms of visual appeal and explosive performing, but less than the sum of its parts…

  • The Image Book

    The Image Book

    ★★★★

    I’m in no position to unpack this, as it’s abstruse even by Godard’s standards, but my general take on it is simple... It’s divided into two halves, the first showing how fictional film obscured the reality of the Holocaust (hence, the trains), and the second a mock-history of the Middle East, largely illustrated with non-fiction news footage. Once I recognized that structuring device, I was able to settle into the flow of images and marvel and Godard’s utterly unique approach to the docufiction genre.

  • Hotel by the River

    Hotel by the River

    ★★★★

    Hong takes an unexpected turn into Lynchian territory in Hotel by the River, a sneaky drama about a bad-dad poet’s misdeeds told using devices that he himself might have employed in his work. As often happens in the director’s movie, a scene appears midway through that lays out the gambit in explicit detail. “Side by side,” the inspiration for one of the son’s names, is the theme here, and it not only manifests itself in narrative devices (several scene setups…

  • Teen Spirit

    Teen Spirit

    ★★½

    A bad movie with a strong lead performance (where did that voice come from?) and a thumpin' soundtrack. Good enough that you wish it were better.

  • Gloria Bell

    Gloria Bell

    ★★★½

    In many ways an unnecessary remake, yet Moore commands every moment of this in a manner that changes the very nature of the film. Garcia’s Gloria was self-sabotaging in a way that Lelio chose not to confront, but Moore’s characterization is considerably warmer and more willing to admit her own foibles. As such, she’s far more empathetic and the character study feels more authentic here. A true testament to one of our very best actresses…

  • Can You Ever Forgive Me?

    Can You Ever Forgive Me?

    ★★½

    Slight and not terribly interesting at best... Its audience pandering instincts are pretty dire. McCarthy acquits herself nicely, but Grant is a chore to witness.

  • Shoplifters

    Shoplifters

    ★★★

    Definitely stronger in its first two-thirds, in which it not only deploys deft characterizations, largely though action, but also features some thoroughly convincing ensemble acting scenes. These early bits, mostly taking place in a cramped hovel, really do create the sense that the cast is a makeshift family. When the walls inevitably come tumbling down, Kore-eda begins to indulge in his worst instincts, turning the crisis into a series of tearjerker moments that mostly left me cold.

  • A Star Is Born

    A Star Is Born

    ★★★

    Perhaps fittingly for a film that takes place in the pop milieu, as long as this version of A Star is Born doesn’t aim for introspection it transports us. The first hour or so here, which chart in moment-to-moment detail the plucking of Lady Gaga’s Ally from obscurity to her instant rise to stardom via a viral video, allow us to get caught up in the rush that a proximity to fame can bring. Here the film coasts on the…

  • Our Time

    Our Time

    ★★★

    Perhaps Our Time is meant as a recuperative gesture from international cinema shock jock Reygadas, or perhaps he felt that after his past provocations, the most outrageous thing he could do is serve us a self-serious, Bergmanesque epistolary relationship drama starring his own family. There’s no escaping that had Bergman directed this in his prime it would be half the length (with twice the insight.. and better performances…), yet it must be observed that once this three-hour film establishes its…