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Rob has written 18 reviews for films released in 2017.

  • I, Tonya

    I, Tonya


    Biopics are an almost universally boring and unnecessary category, but I, Tonya subverts that by a) relitigating a scandal and revealing as a hero someone long understood to be a villain, and b) being brutally entertaining. Its pitch-black comedy is reminiscent of The Wolf of Wall Street, with inferior style but a vastly more appealing and sympathetic protagonist. As Tonya Harding and her mother, Margot Robbie and Allison Janney own the film, and without performances of their impressive caliber, I…

  • Call Me by Your Name

    Call Me by Your Name


    Call Me by Your Name strikes me as an important achievement, but one that doesn’t speak to me as much as I had hoped, at least not as much as Carol or Moonlight, the other recent queer crossover hits that are inevitably offered for comparison. The gulf between its adolescent protagonist’s cosmopolitan intellectualism and my own experiences as a teen may be a factor, and it doesn’t help that I am definitely not a fan of Sufjan Stevens. But mostly…

  • The Shape of Water

    The Shape of Water


    A sweet fairy tale, easily the best of the small handful of Guillermo del Toro films I’ve seen. My one gripe is that it relies so heavily on the (strong) appeal of Sally Hawkins’ and Richard Jenkins’ performances that the film sags when they’re not onscreen. Michael Shannon is a serviceable villain, but his contours aren’t nuanced or idiosyncratic enough to justify the amount of attention del Toro lavishes on him.

  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi

    Star Wars: The Last Jedi


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

    Much as The Force Awakens strongly echoes A New Hope, many elements of The Empire Strikes Back are recognizable in The Last Jedi:

    • A budding Jedi, Rey (née Luke Skywalker), seeks training from a master, Luke Skywalker (née Yoda), isolated on an obscure planet, Ahch-To (née Dagobah).
    • Meanwhile, her friends in the Resistance (née Rebellion) are on the run from the First Order (née Empire).
    • A rogue named DJ (née Lando Calrissian) comes to their aid but…

  • The Disaster Artist

    The Disaster Artist


    Greg Sestero’s 2013 memoir, The Disaster Artist, tells the story of his unlikely friendship with Tommy Wiseau, a bizarre and mysterious man more than two decades Sestero’s senior. Both men dream of movie stardom, and the book centers on the making of The Room, Wiseau’s self-financed and uniquely terrible feature film, which later inspired an enduring cult following. Anyone reading the memoir is probably already a fan of The Room, and hoping to gain some insight into how Wiseau’s extraterrestrial…

  • The Dinner

    The Dinner


    If I were a congressman running for governor, and my son and my nephew committed an appalling crime together, the first thing I would do is arrange a dinner date to discuss the matter in a public place with my unstable brother.

  • The Florida Project

    The Florida Project


    When I see a new film of almost universal acclaim, sometimes I go out of my way to read the negative reviews to get a little distance from the zeitgeist. In the case of The Florida Project’s negative reviews, I saw a few patterns:

    • the expected backlash against the critical consensus
    • the frustration of viewers who prefer more traditional narratives
    • locals objecting to the portrayal of Florida
    • accusations of poverty porn

    One flavor of that last…

  • Loving Vincent

    Loving Vincent


    I generally appreciate starry-eyed visionaries following through on ill-advised, shoot-for-the-moon ideas, even when the results are underwhelming. There are lessons to be learned and inspiration to be taken, and some demonstrable good is likely to come of it eventually. That said, I wish Loving Vincent, the first animated feature film to be constructed from tens of thousands of oil paintings, were more of an achievement than a stunt.

    Narratively, it’s a fairly stale exercise in hagiographic historical fiction, but storytelling…

  • Hot Doug’s: The Movie

    Hot Doug’s: The Movie


    Hot Doug’s: The Movie does a good job of capturing the special vibe of the iconic restaurant, but offers virtually no backstory. Who is Doug? What is his background? How did this place come to be? To the extent that these fundamental questions are explored at all, answers are cursory at best. Fans of the now-closed Hot Doug’s will enjoy the opportunity to bathe in its warm glow again (as I did), but anyone looking for something more than a snapshot may be disappointed.

  • The Killing of a Sacred Deer

    The Killing of a Sacred Deer


    After seeing three of his films, I have yet to undertake a thorough appraisal of Yorgos Lanthimos’s skewed visions, but for now, I’ll just say I’m still really enjoying living in his weird world.

  • XX



    An anthology of four shorts directed by women, XX’s preoccupation with maternal horror is the opposite of the crappy brodown that was V/H/S, but it’s ultimately just as disappointing. The shorts are all equally unsatisfying, but Sofia Carrillo’s Švankmajer/Quay-inspired dollhouse-of-horrors interstitials are pretty cool.

  • 78/52



    A serviceable (if blandly presented) documentary with about a zillion variously-credentialed talking heads discussing Psycho’s iconic shower scene. The scene’s cultural context and lasting influence are 101 stuff, but 78/52 is at its best when it digs into the minutiae of the storyboards, staging, cinematography, sound design—casaba!—editing, symbolism, etc. Even the most dedicated Hitchcock scholar will probably learn something new. The interviews’ steady fawning tone gets a bit grating (only one person acknowledges any flaws in the scene), but this…