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  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi

    Star Wars: The Last Jedi

    ★★★★½

    loose thoughts:

    - As thorough a rebuke of the JJ Abrams school of reboot filmmaking as one could hope for. Where The Force Awakens called back to films that came before, The Last Jedi charts new paths. The film toys with what you expect a Star Wars film to be, the shape of its narrative, the perspectives of particular characters. And then it shatters it. For as much as Abrams loves his "mystery box" approach, it's Rian Johnson who's made…

  • Kong: Skull Island

    Kong: Skull Island

    ★★★

    Much like Gareth Edwards' Godzilla, human life in this film is insignificant in the face of gargantuan beasts. The main difference is that this film is far more interested in human death. It's like the Gashlycrumb Tinies of monster movies, a film where people are no more than props to show off all the unique ways there are to die on the island. It's practically a running gag how pointlessly every one of these people go out. The ones who…

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  • Captain America: Civil War

    Captain America: Civil War

    The real battle royale this summer isn't between Batman and Superman, or between Captain America and Iron Man, or between the X-Men and the purple guy. It's over the soul of blockbuster cinema. Marvel has clearly staked its claim, and DC announced its own perspective rather loudly a few months ago. The latter made a film which, while admittedly convoluted, was at least a stab at something grandiose and new. It didn't make logical sense, but it felt like it…

  • Cloverfield

    Cloverfield

    ★★★★★

    Still the best film ever made about 9/11 -- about the 21st century -- Cloverfield is an unparalleled expressionist masterpiece. People talked about how it ripped its "don't show the monster" technique from Jaws, but it's closer to Lovecraft than anything else. Furthermore, it's an idea wholly indebted to the film's own era. We're afraid of what we don't know, what we can't see. Films like War of the Worlds come close to touching on post-9/11 anxieties so potently, but…