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  • Dumplin'

    Dumplin'

    ★★★½

    Basically the breakdown for me here is: Dumplin' is a smart and likeable movie about a big girl getting by and thriving in the world, which is not a common enough thing, which has flaws in its execution and pacing. Sub-storylines are resolved quickly and often with no sense of a real plot arc or are just sort of dropped altogether, supporting characters who deserve more time considering their entertainment value to the film do not quite get that, and…

  • Paddington

    Paddington

    ★★★★

    Paddington is delightful, and there isn't much more to say about it than that, because sometimes you just get handed a bucketful of joy and you gotta just process it.

    Like, I could maybe complain about how that one sequence with the reference to the popular action movie franchise is maybe a little inorganic with the rest of the movie, but - fuck - I laughed hard at it, so how much can I complain about it really? Maybe Hugh…

  • Widows

    Widows

    ★★★★½

    What an absolute goddamn banger of a movie this is. An emotionally brutal heist movie unlike anything we've seen in years - not a caper movie, a heist movie, because heist movies aren't about the joy of theft, that's the opposite point of them - and a set of character studies all at the same time.

    There's this one great scene where Colin Farrell's politician (and can we talk about how great his character is, this ambiguous politician's politician who…

  • The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

    The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

    ★★★½

    Tonally all over the place, which would not be a bad thing except that on a story basis the short films don't feel consistent. After the first two short films, I thought "okay, this is a series of films about how capers and film comedy come up short against real life," but then the third film happened. After that, I thought ""okay, this is a movie where the moral, so to speak, of every short film is that death is…

  • First Reformed

    First Reformed

    ★★★★★

    Part of me wants to say "I'm not sure how highly I would rate this film if it weren't shot to within an inch of its life" because it depends so greatly on its endless array of stunning shot selections and moody lighting in order to make its story work and keep you captivated when Ethan Hawke's monologue might otherwise drive you away, but on the other hand this is like saying "I'm not sure how well I would review…

  • The Illusionist

    The Illusionist

    ★★

    It looks very pretty (a very compelling visual motif for the entire film, sepia-toned beauty and excellent shot choices and all of the actors do their best, but ultimately it comes down to the fact that about forty minutes in, Jessica Biel says "we'll never be free unless the prince thinks we're dead."

    At that point you know the entire rest of the movie is just one giant head-fake, except you're not even going to get the pleasure of "how…

  • Scent of a Woman

    Scent of a Woman

    ★★★★

    I come today in praise of a great performance, a work of acting that deserves to be recognized by all members of the craft as not just skilled but inspired, a masterwork of technique and control; indeed, it deserves to be not only applauded but studied as an example to all actors, young and old alike.

    I of course am talking about Chris O'Donnell.

    Yes, mediocre-Robin-fourth-best-Musketeer-NCIS Los Angeles-ass Chris O'Donnell. His work as Charlie Simms in Scent of a Woman

  • A Bridge Too Far

    A Bridge Too Far

    ★★★

    Because it tries to tell the entire story of an enormous multi-pronged military operation, by necessity there can't be a "main character" whom we follow through the entire mess; it's not like D-Day, where you make a D-Day movie by filming a soldier as he assaults one of the beaches (probably Omaha, which was the most dramatic and viciously fought of the five beaches) and then makes his way inland; Operation Market Garden was multiple separate paratroop drops, all of…

  • Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

    Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

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

    What a piece of shit this was.

    I quite liked the first Fantastic Beasts movie. I liked Eddie Redmayne's performance of Newt Scamander as a very non-traditionally heroic protagonist; I liked the imagination of the visuals; I liked the core cast; I liked the action. Most of that is still here in the sequel, but the problem is: it comes in much, much smaller doses.

    By that I mean that Clams of Grandlewoo takes the core cast from the first…

  • The Hate U Give

    The Hate U Give

    ★★★★

    At times it can get just a little sermon-y when one character is explaining to another the nature of, say, the socioeconomic trap of white supremacy that has shoved black people in the poor neighborhood into crime. And the ending is a little too pat and wraps up too many story threads, which normally I like in a flick but most movies aren't about difficult-to-fix social phenomena, so it doesn't really feel germane here.

    All of that said: it has…

  • Overlord

    Overlord

    ★★★½

    Overlord is basically about as good as it can be, considering it is a movie about Allied soldiers fighting zombies on D-Day, which is a silly B-movie concept that the movie makes work far better than it has any right to do.

    It's well-shot, has good dialogue and great performances (everybody who writes about this movie keeps talking about how Wyatt Russell is seriously a chip off his father Kurt's block, and at first it doesn't quite fit and then…

  • Das Boot

    Das Boot

    ★★★★★

    What's truly remarkable about Das Boot is that the three-and-a-half-hour director's cut of the film (which is the only cut of the film, forget the theatrical cut entirely) doesn't feel like three and a half hours at all. With the exception of the introduction and the later banquet scene aboard the Weser (which is there as a timely contrast between stuffed suits who talk about war versus soldiers who actually have to fight, and necessary), this entire thing is taut…