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  • Dead Again

    Dead Again

    ★★★★

    What a wonderfully fearless work of melodrama Dead Again is. Sure, Branagh hams it up. Sure, the old-age makeup is terrible. Sure, there are some superimpositions during the film's climax that seem inspired by a freshman film-school short. But I love it for daring to go to the lengths it does. Aside from De Palma, I can't think of a single other director who would've even tried, and even he would not have brought Branagh's guileless romanticism that melds so…

  • Lady Bird

    Lady Bird

    ★★★★

    The coming-of-age dramedy is not a particularly easy genre to do well. Pitfalls of self-indulgence, schmaltz, and oversimplification mine the path to success. Bigger still is the difficulty in separating yourself from the countless other films dealing with teen angst and the assorted traumas that accompany the transition to adulthood. The universal nature of these stories means that they tend to be very similar, and very very predictable. Some films succeed brilliantly (e.g. Breaking Away) while other fall flat on…

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  • Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

    Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

    ★★★

    Francis Ford Coppola presents Kenneth Branagh's Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a brilliant adaptation of the original novel . . . except when it isn’t . . . which is unfortunately very often.

  • The Hateful Eight

    The Hateful Eight

    ★★½

    With The Hateful Eight, Tarantino seems to be taunting his oldest detractors by making a film that showcases their most frequent criticisms. It's all here: characters that are "irredeemably corrupt", "endless" stretches of meandering dialogue, and "gratuitous" graphic violence. Here's the thing though, for the very first time I (a longtime Tarantino fan) found myself agreeing with them. The violence IS gratuitous and present primarily for shock value, the dialogue DOES seem endless, and the characters ARE (without exception) irredeemably…