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  • Island of the Hungry Ghosts

    Island of the Hungry Ghosts

    ★★★½

    The intangibility of this film is hard to grasp and hard to come to terms with, but in the end, serves as its greatest strength. We rarely see the inhabitants of Christmas Island's detention center and only once see the center itself, panting and sweating atop a hill through thick brush, from the outside looking in. We hear only whispers of their anguish through their trauma sessions, and what becomes of them from the secretive voices across the phone line.…

  • A Quiet Place

    A Quiet Place

    ★★½

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

    I was initially put off by watching this with a packed and noisy audience, but in the end, I couldn't fault them (and myself) for laughing. Some highlights:

    - making the daughter oblivious to everything the audience knows
    - playing dramatic background music the entire time
    - using every screech effect on the soundboard for fake jump scares
    - rack focusing on everything important
    - watching emily's family leave her alone, multiple times, despite being pregnant or having JUST HAD…

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  • Mary and the Witch's Flower

    Mary and the Witch's Flower

    ★★★½

    To be clear, this film isn't supposed to break any new grounds. It probably won't fill you up with many warm, gooey feelings, and it will never try to surprise you. Every one-dimensional character in Mary and the Witch's Flower seems to be plucked from a Kindergarten children's book, and the humor plays off accordingly — loud and proud.

    The beautiful animation and scenery is wasted on bubble-gum backdrops. They never build up into a cohesive, lived-in universe, and our…

  • Colossal

    Colossal

    ★½

    Somehow, a film that starts off with a massive kaiju looming over Seoul manages to exemplify some the worst fetishes of action flicks and modern, self-aware TV romcoms.

    I appreciate Colossal's overall themes and intentions. I appreciate its commentary on the diverse flavors of toxicity in relationships, and its championing of the independent female spirit. But these intentions don't excuse its heavy-handed, pandering approach to expressing these themes, and they don't excuse its other numerous offenses, from awkward-sexy boy-girl interactions…