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  • Petulia

    Petulia

    ★★★★½

    The media-res opening signals a confrontational daring in Lester's examination of late '60s culture which is further confirmed by the jagged editing rhythms which introduce the subsequent interweaving of flashbacks then allowing the story to proceed on two tracks from this pivotal point of convergence where Christie--a prototypical MPDG who quickly exceeds the trite cliche as her character is defined by trauma and deep uncertainty--driven by guilt, dissatisfaction, and tedium interjects herself in Scott's life of staid, middle-aged disappointment. What…

  • Operation Crossbow

    Operation Crossbow

    ★★★

    A strong factual basis and procedural focus lend a strong grounding to the '60's star-studded espionage thriller format that often swerved into empty pablum more concerned with star cameos--here, Sophia Loren stops by for one of the film's most effective set pieces and brings more than just her sensual aura--than thrilling tension. Powell's input is hard to discern in the film, but the dialogue does display a nice fluidity in moving between gentlemanly grit in the field and British pomposity…

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  • Sicario

    Sicario

    ★★★★

    The strength of Villeneuve's intensely muscular direction, Deakins's gloomily gorgeous and evocatively atmospheric cinematography, and Jóhannsson's lush score set a spectacularly grim, fatalistic air of dread-soaked taut tension that lends Sheridan's overly glib, cynically nihilistic drug-war horror story a pulpy tone. The film's pulpiness helps to trim away the shallow nihilism of its moral commentary by amplifying the gruesome horrors of the film's bleakly nihilistic world and the grim amorality of its characters, overpowering Sheridan's didactic intentions and delivering a…

  • Mission: Impossible - Fallout

    Mission: Impossible - Fallout

    ★★★★

    McQuarrie returns to the series with an understanding of the elements involved--the players and their strengths, the expected action quotient, and the relevant plot points to hit--and brings a deftness to the execution that balances the globe-spanning espionage theatrics and horizon-expanding action sequences with casual, quippy comedy and a seedling of emotional investment in its characters' lives--Hunt's romances never entirely convincing given Cruise's paternal air, but the friendships lend resonance to the life-threatening escapades, making the stakes personal--that, together, make…