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  • The Iron Giant

    The Iron Giant

    ★★★★

    Brad Bird makes great superhero films.

  • The Asphalt Jungle

    The Asphalt Jungle

    ★★★½

    The noir aesthetic is potent, as you might expect—the opening sequence of Sterling Hayden's Dix Handley stealing through a blighted urban wasteland is remarkable in how it suggests an entire fully formed worldview with just a few shots. Surprising to me, though, was John Huston's apparent indifference to his cast's performances. Hayden, with his flinty dark eyes and perpetual half-sneer, certainly looks the part, but his line readings are bland and careless, sometimes shockingly so. He's not the only one…

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  • The Witch

    The Witch

    Almost two months after I've seen this movie, I'm still trying to decide what I think of it. It's certainly effective, accomplishing everything it sets out to do. Robert Eggers is scarily self-assured at the helm of his first feature film, creating an atmosphere of uncanniness and spiritual dread that is unwavering and flawlessly oppressive. If The Exorcist is a horror movie for Catholics, then The Witch is a horror movie for Protestants: Because the individual (not the institutional church)…

  • Midnight Special

    Midnight Special

    ★★★★

    The plot is the weak link in Midnight Special: try not to think too hard about how and why Alton's special abilities work the way they do, or about why the cult just sort of evaporates as the story proceeds toward its climax. The film is much more concerned with atmosphere (David Wingo's score is the highlight here), character, and emotion. Witness Roy's (Michael Shannon) final moment with Alton, or the halting attempts by Lucas (Joel Edgerton) to explain the…