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  • Isle of Dogs

    Isle of Dogs

    ★★★

    Dog = concierge, obviously, both being constrained by a sacred duty to be loyal and obedient; Anderson is still doing Grand Budapest Hotel, but the resolutions here - inevitably, given the many good dogs - are a lot more sentimental. 'Chief' is a lot like Mr. Fox too, a wild animal resisting domestication, indeed the outsider chafing against being part of a community has been an Anderson staple since Max Fischer - his complexity coming, imo, in the fact that…

  • The Rider

    The Rider

    ★★★

    To its credit, this could plausibly go either way in the end - either to romantic affirmation of a cowboy's God-given purpose ("to ride"), or downbeat realism and dreams abandoned. Then again, that's also a reflection of the in-between space it occupies, not always happily: there are obvious movie contrivances, e.g. Brady checking out the video of his own accident (useful exposition for us) or the cowboys self-consciously taking turns to relate rodeo mishaps, there are obvious poetic bits like…

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  • Margaret

    Margaret

    ★★★★★

    Held me spellbound for three hours, if nothing else (extended cut, fwiw). 25th HOUR-ish - New York movie, moral drama about Doing the Right Thing, symphonic score over jagged rhythms - also Desplechin-ish for the sweep and scale, but more ambitious than either: an epic of human disconnection, based around the fact that language is such an imperfect way of trying to connect - emotion is easier, but we lose it as we grow older ("It is Margaret you mourn…

  • Aloha

    Aloha

    ★★★★

    File with James L. Brooks' How Do You Know as a late-period rom-com that may seem inept because it dispenses with the usual pretence of realism (the magical setting helps, like it did, in a different way, in Almost Famous; maybe Crowe's peculiar sensibility needs the licence of an anything-goes milieu to really take flight). Myths and omens appear prominently. There's an emphasis on the touchy-feely - Danny McBride as Colonel "Fingers"; Bill Murray giving an impromptu massage - over…