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  • Central Intelligence

    Central Intelligence

    ★★★

    Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart’s modern day Laurel and Hardy routine in which a deceptively circuitous corporate espionage narrative is embedded in an archetypal high school reunion. In other words, there is a tradeoff of exceptionally high value flash drives, which contain information that could cripple governments wholesale, in a subterranean parking garage between a pair of spies so persuasive you’re not certain who’s the bad one and who’s the good one, which is of no real concern because undoubtedly the marquee stars will emerge unscathed and afterwards attend their school homecoming, this before the blooper reel that’s decidedly funnier than anything that precedes it.

  • Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief

    Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief

    ★★★½

    +½★

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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.