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  • Phantom Thread

    Phantom Thread

    ★★★★★

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE begins under the dissonant strains of Jon Brion's score and ends with a volatile man being taught how to play a harmonium by the woman who has brought peace into his life. In a way, PHANTOM THREAD tells this same story in reverse: a man becalmed by his routine, in scenes scored by Jonny Greenwood's unusually romantic harmonies, finds a woman who will disturb his life for the better.

    Most gothic romances keep the control and power games…

  • Cluny Brown

    Cluny Brown

    ★★★★★

    "You're the most selfish man I ever met," is the phrase Charles Boyer's exiled Czech professor uses to disarm a man that Boyer wants to con out of twenty pounds and a place to nap. Everyone in this film is selfish. Everyone is also mortified by his or her own selfishness. This tension between how much of yourself you can keep, and how much you want to give away, is the tension of all love affairs. Is there a better…

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  • La La Land

    La La Land

    ★★★

    L.A. is full of young people who move to the city with an open mind and shelf full of old Mike Davis books, ready to find the "real" and "authentic" L.A. that apparently existed before the Dodgers stole Chavez Ravine or before city boosterism ran amuck or... before capitalism maybe? La La Land is full of winks to many knowing groups of people; a side entertainment of my viewing was listening to the involuntary "hmms" and "huhs" of the audience…

  • Manchester by the Sea

    Manchester by the Sea

    ★★★★½

    The custodial relationship, where one assumes temporary care over another's person or property, is Manchester by the Sea's guiding metaphor. In the first ten minutes, Lee tolerates the creeping intimacy of his tenants in order to plunge toilets and replace corroded stoppers. Those first ten minutes define a relationship that we see repeated throughout the film, but with Lee on the other side. Once he arrives back in Manchester, we see him depend on the professional competence of doctors, nurses,…