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  • Seder-Masochism

    Seder-Masochism

    ★★½

    Nina Paley’s exhaustingly energetic essay film plays much like a Jewish Sesame Street episode devoted to the story of Passover. Framed by an interview between Paley and her father, the film offers plenty of visual variety and an eclectic soundtrack but gets somewhat muddled as it juggles its energies between its various personal, historical and folkloric threads and its jukebox musical aims. Paley’s feminist critique is blunted by the playful tone of the film, which generally reduces human suffering to Tom and Jerry-level sight gags.

  • Tully

    Tully

    ★★

    Even Shyamalan would be embarrassed by this plotting. Theron is too good for this treatment, which came as a disappointment because against all odds I enjoyed Young Adult.

  • Three Days

    Three Days

    ★★★

    Absolutely superb use of landscape here, but this verges on being a parody of a European art film at times between its depictions of affectless alienated youth and its oh-so-studied restraint.

  • Let the Sunshine In

    Let the Sunshine In

    ★★★½

    Thrilling in all of the ways that it’s unconventional, but often it just feels conventional. I probably need a second viewing to get a firmer handle on it…

  • Heartland

    Heartland

    ★★★

    Conchata Ferrell’s grizzled demeanor defines this, and she disappears into the role to such an extent that her traumas become ours. The final set piece is glorious, in its way. The rest of the film mostly eschews that sort of poetry for the sake of verisimilitude.

  • Cross Creek

    Cross Creek

    ★★★½

    Likeable, largely because Steenburgen is so willing not to be…

  • Trash Humpers

    Trash Humpers

    ★★★★

    Proto-film for the proto-Trump era.

  • The Tale

    The Tale

    ★★★½

    Often inept, but the scenes depicting abuse are genuinely uncomfortable and the (non-)ending is perfect.

  • Upgrade

    Upgrade

    ★★★

    Admirable in the way it channels noir tropes into contemporary anxieties about the body and technology. Budgetary issues hold back the effort somewhat, but still nasty at heart, which is much-appreciated.

  • Dirty Mary Crazy Larry

    Dirty Mary Crazy Larry

    ★★★½

    What does poor Deke have to do here to get into the title?

  • Hereditary

    Hereditary

    ★★★½

    Mostly effective as a metaphor for dealing with mental illness within a family unit… grows increasingly wobbly and confused as it goes, but still a strong debut by any reckoning.

  • Mommy Dead and Dearest

    Mommy Dead and Dearest

    ★★

    Sleazy, in a bad way.