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  • Ray

    Ray

    ★★★

    A standard Hollywood biopic that rushes through Ray Charles' life events, is unevenly directed, ignores characters that spend years touring with him, and has a completely out-of-place schmaltzy ending. The positives are lots of great music, a showy performance from Jamie Foxx, and Booger.

  • I, Tonya

    I, Tonya

    ★★★★

    Here's a biopic done right. The movie takes a tawdry, headline-grabbing incident and gives the characters depth and nuance and crafts a tragic story that also funny and lively. The comparison to Scorsese is apt.

  • The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension

    The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension

    ★★★

    They say you can't intentionally make a cult movie, but Buckaroo Banzai might be the exception. The movie is so loaded with clever ideas, funny sight gags, and hilarious performances from a gaggle of geeky actors playing 80s dress-up, that it's a shame the movie is so sloppily put together and the script lacks any sort of forward momentum (heck, the story is barely coherent). This movie needed a Spielberg or Zemeckis kind of treatment, not a first-time director, despite his writing credentials. But it's fun anyway!

  • Story of Women

    Story of Women

    ★★★★

    Isabelle Huppert's a lonely mother in occupied France who turns to giving abortions and letting prostitutes rent her spare room to make ends meet. Chabrol keeps a distance from the protagonist, just as she seems to keep a distance from others. The movie isn't out to judge her even when the government decides to make an example of her. It's not a tirade against injustice, just a matter of fact look at life during wartime, very much in the spirit of Malle's "Lacombe Lucien." I think the word is unsentimental.

  • Raiders of the Lost Ark

    Raiders of the Lost Ark

    ★★★★★

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

    One thing that's always bugged me about Raiders of the Lost Ark was how did Indy know to close his eyes and not look at the ark? I'm not really questioning his archeological knowledge, but the reason is never explained to the audience. I know the ending is literally deus ex machina, but all you have to do is close your eyes and you're good?

    Well a couple of years ago Spock gave me the answer.

    www.youtube.com/watch?v=DyiWkWcR86I

    In this interview,…

  • Strangers on a Train

    Strangers on a Train

    ★★★★

    Strangers on a Train has one of my favorite movie posters, because it's just so simple and brilliant. Check it out: straightchillingpodcast.com/media/1345/soat1.jpg.

    I love everything about this movie except Farley Granger. He's convincing as a tennis pro, I guess, but he offers nothing that makes him interesting or watchable. Robert Walker steals the show (it's a shame he died right after this) and the supporting players upstage Granger in every scene. The script and direction and photography easily makes this one of Hitchcock's top films. It drags a bit near the end but the big action climax makes up for it.

  • Good Times - Ben Safdie, Josh Safdie

    Good Times - Ben Safdie, Josh Safdie

    ★★★★

    Desperate people doing desperate things to achieve their desperate goals. Most filmmakers would approach this story as a comedy, and the movie falls just short of becoming a parody of itself. It's like "After Hours" without the humor. The Safdie brothers really wish this was a 70s movie, and they film everything in tight close-ups Cassavettes style. It annoyed me when Cassavettes did it, and it annoys me here, but not so much that it hurts the film. Robert Pattinson…

  • Seven Days in May

    Seven Days in May

    ★★★★

    An incredibly smart political thriller that struggles through some (much needed) exposition dumps and begs for a little more action. Still, the ideas it toys with are shocking and still relevant today, it's a great depiction of the lives of Pentagon brass, and the final verbal showdown between Burt Lancaster and Frederic March is fantastic.

  • The Big Sick

    The Big Sick

    ★★★★

    A gentle romantic comedy boosted by its autobiographical roots, and although I wished it was a little less indie-film naturalism and a little more funny, it was very pleasant to watch, esp. once Holly Hunter and Ray Romano showed up. The screenplay navigated some very tricky story transitions, and did a great job at delaying gratification.

  • Altered States

    Altered States

    ★★★★

    This is one of those freaky, weird movies I loved as a teen (the nudity was a plus). Once you overlook the basic premise of the transformative power of magic 'shrooms, it's a really fun look at scientists doing research that unlocks the secrets of time and space with a dazzling light show. Director Ken Russell wisely makes the actors shout Chayefsky's mumbo jumbo lines over each other so we don't have to take it all too seriously. The cast…

  • Threads

    Threads

    ★★★★

    This is basically a solid remake of "The War Game," a 1965 pretend documentary about the effects of nuclear war. It's incredibly well done for a BBC TV movie, and doesn't shy away from the bleak and depressing subject matter, but it's also hampered by its low budget and TV style. Still, I have to give it point simply because it depicts the after-effects of nuclear war better than anything else I've seen, including "The Day After," which has all the same 80s TV movie problems that this film has. Any clues on what the title means?

  • Magic Mike

    Magic Mike

    ★★★

    A movie can go a long way on Channing Tatum's charm, and while this is Citizen Kane compared to Showgirls, but it doesn't really work. The story is split between two protagonists - a dull character that makes all the dumb mistakes, leaving Tatum to be Mr. Perfect. It starts off like it's going to be about their relationship - a master/student type of story - but that becomes completely unimportant as things develop and Tatum's story takes the focus.…