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  • Eight Hours Don't Make a Day

    Eight Hours Don't Make a Day

    ★★★★

    The curious pleasure of Fassbinder's blue-collar soap opera is in how sweet and optimistic it is. Under the watchful eyes of TV bureaucrats who clearly wanted to make something "uplifting, but SMART" for the worker bees of West Germany, Fassbinder is forced to make the most unambiguously tender and gentle work of his career. This was early on, and Fassbinder clearly didn't have the ass to steer a project like this. It's touching to see RWF try to push a…

  • 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…

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  • 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…

  • 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…