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  • The Beguiled

    The Beguiled

    Though appealingly lurid and sensuous in outline, The Beguiled strangely recedes from touch, and ultimately leaves one more becalmed than beguiled. I’m a fan of the maxim that style and substance are inseparable, but The Beguiled is among the better counterarguments I’ve seen. Its torpor comes not from the material, which is in the grand gothic tradition, but from a complete mismatch of cinematic effects. Coppola is clearly either uncomfortable or unable to exist in the Michael Powell, Douglas Sirk…

  • Personal Shopper

    Personal Shopper

    It’s interesting until it’s just plain silly. The climax feels a bit Scooby Doo, especially since it concerns a character we don’t give a fuck about. The not-so-big reveal should be obvious to anyone who’s ever watched a police procedural that’s a bit too tightly-plotted: the killer is always the only character who seems in any way extraneous. And after that, the two central conversations – with her dead brother’s girlfriend’s new boyfriend (whew), and with the final apparition –…

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  • Children of Men

    Children of Men

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

    "As the sound of the playgrounds faded, the despair set in. Very odd what happens in a world without children's voices. I was there at the end."
    "Now you're gonna be there at the beginning."

    Children of Men is undoubtedly a great film. Not because of the sci-fi world created, which is among the most haunting and complex post-apocalyptic murals painted. Not because of the premise, which finds earth infertile and uncaring. Not even because of the film's technical mastery,…

  • American Beauty

    American Beauty

    It begins with the voice over of a dead man. If you recall, Billy Wilder’s black comic masterpiece Sunset Blvd. also begins with narration courtesy of a corpse. Like William Holden and Gloria Swanson in American Beauty‘s cinematic ancestor, the film finds the flailing suburban bore Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey) dangerously mismatched with the manic energy of his ambitious but quickly aging wife Carolyn (Annette Bening). As we’ve been told, their marriage will lead to murder, but we realize that…