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  • Rita, Sue and Bob Too

    Rita, Sue and Bob Too

    ★★★

    An unlikely ménage à trois between too teenage schoolgirls and a married man told with peculiar semi-comic bluntness. It's never outwardly absurd enough to register as comedy, nor as dire enough to be dramatic in the fashion that describes Clarke’s other films. Rather, it's as pragmatic and straightforward a romantic indiscretion as the title enumerates, one appreciably accompanied by a theme song.

  • The Gleaners & I

    The Gleaners & I

    ★★★★½

    A persuasive argument against two of my preferences in nonfiction films: one, that the filmmaker remain absent and affect the contents in no more than contriving a point of view; and two, that the topic have some visual vibrancy that justifies its status in a visual medium. For one, there is no movie here without Varda, who so endearingly establishes her status as a gleaner (of images, of people, of heart-shaped potatoes) that the film could be little more than…

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  • The Big Short

    The Big Short

    ★★★★

    The film’s regular fourth wall transgressions that intend to demystify credit bubbles and CDOs or whatever else didn’t quite clarify exactly what’s going on for me, but nevertheless this is a film that’s transparently cognizant of the viewer’s level of interest, checking in every now in then in case one of us is nodding off. It’s this tactic that I really admire, and a film that purposefully solicits participation because McKay & Co. intend to educate under the guise of entertainment,…

  • They Live

    They Live

    ★★★★★

    They Live is at times totally absurd (the bubblegum line, for example, which I’ve never thought was all that funny), but its central revelation is masterful, melding the film’s political satire with its good old-fashioned alien invasion narrative. You laugh when those cartoonish bug-eyed aliens pronounce their capitalistic agenda – think about that; in what other movies do aliens want to harvest Mother Earth's monetary instead of horticultural resources? – but behind the ridiculous one-liners and the shootouts and the spectacularly elongated fight scene is a genuine frustration. I wish more movies ballasted such absurdity with sincerity.