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  • Pom Poko

    Pom Poko

    ★★★★½

    A work of formidable exuberance that implicitly explores the consequences of its own imagination. In the end, the magic of these raccoons becomes the magic of cinema to reenvision the future—but also to potentially decay into escapism. The difference between the two paths lies in the wills of the characters—and in the audience, as the fourth wall is broken and we’re compelled to consider how we’ll relate to what we’ve witnessed. Takahata can be an objective sociologist, but he’s never an amoral one.

  • On Your Mark

    On Your Mark

    A little drama of shifting temporal perception—images replayed like the pop song’s chorus, the careful blurring between “what might have been and what has been” (Eliot)—juxtaposing possibilities of hope and despair to heighten sensitivity to both. It’s an encapsulation of life’s ambivalence but also a humanist celebration of activism. Loose and free, maybe the most inventive seven minutes in Miyazaki’s filmography.

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  • Jersey Boys

    Jersey Boys

    ★★★★★

    A director clearly at play; you can tell Eastwood just had a blast making this. Structurally reckless and tonally spontaneous, with some of the most lively mise en scène of his entire career. There were more than a few jaw-dropping shots which made me think, "This is Eastwood?!" He's beyond taking risks at this point, making films on no one's terms but his own. I can't help but think of what Rossellini said about Chaplin's A King in New York: "This is the film of a free man."

  • The Nutty Professor

    The Nutty Professor

    ★★★★★

    "You might as well like yourself. Just think about all the time you're gonna have to spend with you."