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  • Stray

    Stray

    ★★★

    The film: the spiritual successor to the superior “Kedi. It felt a little lifeless but the second half was a bit more engaging than the earlier part.

    The dogs: all the dogs, especially the charismatic Zeytin and adorable puppy Katal, making their way through tough lives as best they can. Good dogs all 13/10.

  • Mayor

    Mayor

    ★★★★

    David Osit knew very little Arabic when he started this, which is pretty amazing, because he was able to capture so much meaning and emotional depth. The Christian mayor of the historically Christian city of Ramallah—a compelling subject in his own right—stands in for a people who want their dignity and their home.

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  • The Nightingale

    The Nightingale

    ★★★★

    A revenge fantasy that turns into a compelling meditation on both personal and social trauma. The performances by new-to-me co-stars Aisling Francioni as the titular character and especially by Baykali Ganambarr as her Aboriginal guide are among the best I’ve seen this year. Ditto Sam Clalflin as the heavy—I’ve seen his depiction described as veering into cartoonishness, but I thought he nailed the dismissive evil that flows from finding yourself superior to everyone around you and being able to carry…

  • The Assistant

    The Assistant

    ★★★★½

    Such a sublime structure. Such a great device to keep the boss nameless and faceless and the “action” on the periphery. Such a great script to show us how one wrestles with the drive for personal advancement and the moral compromises that drive may desire. And, especially, such an absolutely fabulous performance by Julia Garner. That’s one heck of a movie.