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  • Patriots Day

    Patriots Day

    ★★★

    Peter Berg's attempt to do a liberal-centrist-Democrat version of something like Michael Bay's 13 HOURS. The first half of this account of the hunt for the Boston Marathon bombers is echt Michael Bay; the second half, ersatz David Fincher. Strangely, Berg is better at the latter: the terrorists' abduction of a Chinese MIT student makes for some profoundly nerve-jangling and very cinematic moments. (Look at the Fincher-oid use of the massive fluorescent lights in the gas station.) The last fifteen…

  • The Cabinet of Dr. Ramirez

    The Cabinet of Dr. Ramirez

    ★★★★

    Peter Sellars' tirade against the 80s--and a prayer of hope for a more "spiritual" 90s--now looks like one of the essential movies of its period. A reimagining of the silent film--packed with wall-to-wall music from John Adams' "Harmonielehre"--RAMIREZ suggests an entirely novel approach to the concept of the arthouse picture. Like Richard Foreman's STRONG MEDICINE, RAMIREZ was considered "too stagy" and thus never had a proper release. (At an early screening, Sellars' German backers sighed afterwards and said, period-appropriately, "Well...it's…

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  • The Master

    The Master

    ★★★★★

    Sinister, cryptic, sidelong, dislikable. The second in a series of PTA films that are like adaptations of imaginary classic American novels. (PTA's There Will Be Blood, while credited as adapted from Upton Sinclair's Oil!, really bears almost no relationship to that novel.) Here, PTA follows up the mythic rise of heroic/antiheroic capitalist Daniel Plainview--a maven of physical goods, a bleeder of the earth--with what PTA pegs as the defining category killer of the modern, meaning postwar, world: one who sells…

  • Irma la Douce

    Irma la Douce

    ★★★★★

    I doubt you can find a good review for Billy Wilder's hit follow-up to his Best Picture-winning THE APARTMENT, but IRMA is proof that--in the sixties anyway--Billy's comedies were more haunting than other people's dramas. Jack Lemmon's honest cop, courting Shirley MacLaine's honest whore, discovers that an honest man must play a whoremaster, a gentleman must play a murderer, and many other ruses by which true love is permitted to exist in Wilder's truly unlovely world. Long damned by auteur…