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  • Black Christmas

    Black Christmas

    ★★★★

    This is it—the slasher film every slasher parody you’ve seen is referencing. The movie that Scream was doing a twist on. You might expect it to be a cheesy, Santa-and-holly horror affair, but it’s a lot smarter than that. It feels genuine, and it features that formula-free 70s filmmaking that makes you sit up and go “wait a second, now what.” Essential.

  • A Ghost Story

    A Ghost Story

    ★½

    I believe I watch enough artsy films, old films, world cinema, and similar credential-boosting catalog to confidently declare this pretentious nonsense. This is, at best, an eye-rolling Instagram account in motion.

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  • Starship Troopers

    Starship Troopers

    ★★★★★

    It's as good an action/sci-fi movie as has ever been made, and on top of it, it's a subversive, complex, yet highly entertaining examination of the cost of social order. It has held up beautifully over the past 15 years, and in retrospect, it's one of the best movies of the 1990s.

  • The Master

    The Master

    ★★★

    It's perfectly fine for a movie to have an elusive core, to not be about anything in particular. But when that is the case, it should at least populate the screen with enough varied ideas to invite engagement. The Master is a claustrophobic, one-track tale(?) and so the overwhelming emotions it invokes are befuddlement and, often, boredom.

    The titular Master is very mildly based on Scientology's L. Ron Hubbard, and references that spell this out do the movie no favors,…