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  • The Shape of Water

    The Shape of Water

    ★★½

    While the film is somewhat entertaining, I kinda wince at how the value of transgression is reduced to whether a sea creature has a penis or not so that it/he can have intercourse with a human. It makes me miss something like Under the Skin more than ever. Of course, being a del Toro film, The Shape of Water can't help but displaying one-dimensional characters. Its failure to dig deep into the theme of alienation is also much expected, given that the film is less interested in that, in comparison with drawing up some senseless fantasy for the audiences to wow at.

  • Midnight Special

    Midnight Special

    ★★★½

    Cynical critics may read this one big chunk of satire, but if you are somewhat of a spiritual person, this speaks to you in many ways. While 2011's Take Shelter had many believe that Jeff Nichols' concerns are rather earth-bound (the working class, mental illness), Midnight Special reveals a direction that is quite off the mark. It will be hard to look at the film if you insist on extracting familiar themes from it.

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  • 12 Years a Slave

    12 Years a Slave

    ★★½

    It's hard for me not to imagine the making of 12 Years A Slave as a way for Steve McQueen to bitch-slap Steven Spielberg. If Spielberg's Lincoln was an attempt to sugarcoat the deplorable corruption at its heart, then 12 Years A Slave is the equivalent of a bath salt, shamelessly exhibiting its masochism without the slightest hint of irony. Familiar dramatic tropes pumped out, one after another, and the same statement is reiterated over and over again: If you…

  • Eyes Wide Shut

    Eyes Wide Shut

    ★★★★½

    Eyes Wide Shut is actually the most interesting Kubrick film (though not necessarily his best). Not grandiose, like 2001. Not stinging, like that despicable Clockwork Orange. But it slaps you hard at your D and that is exactly the kind of thing that I root for (well, you may say that is because I know it will turn off many other people, so I laugh simultaneously at the film, the characters and the easy-going audiences all at the same time).

    A major influence on Jonathan Glazer's Birth, which also stars Nicole Kidman and which I ironically prefer (because it is somewhat more tricky).