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  • The Zookeeper's Wife

    The Zookeeper's Wife

    ★★★

    A true-life Holocaust story with its heart in the right place (and another fine performance from Jessica Chastain). However, other than cute animals and an avoidance of some of the worst horrors of the war in Poland, there was nothing to distinguish this film from the hundreds of other films about this era. Unusually for me with this genre, I just couldn't make myself become emotionally involved...the script seemed so predictable that I just started to get bored, hoping for the worst for a jolt of passion. It never came.

  • Life

    Life

    ★½

    Even more than Cuaron's Gravity, this film totally gets the realistic wonder of orbital space-station life perfectly. Even more than in the Alien[s], films, we're presented with an implacably terrifying, convincing alien life form. But this derivative, terror-by-numbers, narratively flawed movie just rehashes those sci-fi tropes without progressing beyond them. It's a waste of good actors and an unexpectedly ironic climax.

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  • El Topo

    El Topo

    ★★★★★

    The New York Times contacted me today for background about my review of El Topo that was published in the L.A. Free Press on April 23, 1971. They provided me with a scan of the article, and I'm reposting it here. Maybe 43 years later its verbiage is a little embarrassing; but I stand by what I wrote back then. How often do we get an opportunity to view what we thought about films through the prism of the far…

  • Joy

    Joy

    ★½

    David O. Russell's popularity and reputation for enlightened whimsy eludes me. I can't blame the actors in what has become his "stock company" for my dislike of this film. Rather it must be Russell's mechanistic, by-the-numbers script filled with neurotic characters acting nonsensically. I know I'm out of step with audiences here; so forget that I ever tried to review this film.