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  • The Game

    The Game

    ★★★★

    It may not be the director’s finest work, but given its source material, The Game still manages to pack in some tense scenes and maintain an unsettling atmosphere that is always elevated by Fincher’s meticulous direction, some fine performances, and an absorbing script that makes the most of its familiar premise.

  • The Pianist

    The Pianist

    ★★★★½

    Featuring flawless performances and an understated craftsmanship, Roman Polanski’s essential WWII masterpiece depicts a true story in its most brutal and realistic form while delivering a devastating, beautiful, and poignant drama that follows the life of a Holocaust survivor and pianist played superbly by Adrien Brody.

  • Magnolia

    Magnolia

    ★★★

    What really holds this overambitious mess together is PTA’s acute understanding of human psychology and, of course, the stellar cast, but I think the film’s message could have been conveyed more effectively and subtly in a more intimate and focused drama than with the epic scale we have here—making the whole interconnected dynamic feel pretentious, befuddling, and unnecessary.

  • Extraction

    Extraction

    ★★½

    The only saving grace is some skillfully constructed action scenes and a committed Chris Hemsworth performance, but a few long-take sequences felt awfully similar to a video game experience, and despite a tense final showdown, the gritty violence felt empty and unexciting due to the generic story containing one-dimensional characters, a lackluster plot, and a self-serious tone. Also, the ending almost made me cringe with its derivative score and pretentious attempt to be emotional and poetic, especially in the last frame.

  • The Darjeeling Limited

    The Darjeeling Limited

    ★★★½

    While the characters feel soulless, the dialogue insensitive, and some of the themes reminiscent of Anderson’s previous film, I found the visuals resplendent, the artistry splendid, the set pieces captivating, and I enjoyed the serious tone and the conflicts the three brothers faced in a rather forgettable but ultimately rewarding story that ends with a great motif.

  • Aliens

    Aliens

    ★★★★

    Cameron ramps up the tension and sci-fi thrills after a very slow beginning with this action-oriented successor to Ridley Scott’s classic, with more interesting character dynamics; more of those terrifying, goo-spewing, acid-blood space critters; and a story that gradually becomes more suspenseful as it creates and defies our expectations with the help of some clever foreshadowing and red herrings to deliver some effective surprises.

  • Alien

    Alien

    ★★★½

    I appreciate how authentic and lived-in the environment feels as well as the claustrophobic atmosphere, the whole cast turns in strong performances, some of the special effects are impressive even today, and I like how some scenes as well as the story play out differently than you’d expect, but it’s not very scary, unsettling, or suspenseful.

  • The World's End

    The World's End

    ★★★

    Despite some amusing parts, a fast pace and a nice cast to keep us engaged, and an obvious attempt to a have a message (plus points for originality), the plot doesn’t make sense, the generic score bothered me, and the numerous sci-fi action brawls eventually got boring, especially due to the lack of genuine danger and—again—the silly narrative.

  • The Royal Tenenbaums

    The Royal Tenenbaums

    ★★★½

    Wes Anderson is just flexing his stylistic filmmaking chops while neglecting the emotional core of an interesting, cohesive, and moving drama that doesn’t exist, and he does it again in his next film. Although I found a few moments fairly amusing and enjoyed Gene Hackman’s performance.

  • The Adventures of Robin Hood

    The Adventures of Robin Hood

    ★★★½

    Even if the story is not as courageous as its swashbuckling crusader and while not very impressive from a technical standpoint (aside from the Technicolor), this classic adventure still makes for a watchable experience with good messages, great performances, and breathtaking fight sequences.

  • The Texas Chain Saw Massacre

    The Texas Chain Saw Massacre

    ★★★½

    The script is severely lacking in rationality and exposition, but on an aesthetic and visceral level, this macabre slasher gets under our skin with its documentary-style direction and droning soundscapes while leaving us shaking after its intense buildup of nerve-racking tension, disgusting horror, and absolute hysteria.

  • Bottle Rocket

    Bottle Rocket

    ★★★

    Although a bit amateur in execution and rather unfocused in its progression, Bottle Rocket is a watchable, easygoing crime flick that benefits from its charismatic leads and marks a nice start for Wes Anderson’s career in its experimental and stylistic approach.