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  • Watchmen

    Watchmen

    ★★★

    Every superhero comes with a built-in contradiction: we're supposed to ignore the fact that "Absolute power corrupts absolutely" in favor of the admirable, but idealized fantasy of "With great power comes great responsibility".

    Alan Moore understood this implicitly, which is why his comic takes pains to depict how only the most extraordinarily damaged people would ever get to the point where they'd need to put on a mask. Damon Lindelof understood this, which is why it's clear from the very…

  • On Her Majesty's Secret Service

    On Her Majesty's Secret Service

    ★★★★

    There's something to be said for how, to this point in the series, the best Bond films are the ones that feel the least like Bond films.

    For all the tropes it introduced that would go on to define decades and decades of what a Bond film "is", Dr. No is mostly remarkable for how unremarkable it is - a foundational minimalist adventure that lays the groundwork in establishing Bond's suave and impossibly cool demeanor (carried almost entirely by Sean…

  • To Catch a Thief

    To Catch a Thief

    ★★★★

    If this is supposed to be "Lesser Hitchcock", then every movie should aspire to be as "less" as this little gem. The premise is an almost absurdly simple one: former career thief John "The Cat" Robie has retired to a fancy chateau along the French Riviera, doing what all reformed cinematic criminals do by quietly tending his gardens and staying out of trouble - both for the sake of his own conscience and for the dozens of former inmates currently…

  • Onward

    Onward

    ★★½

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

    Onward is the latest weird movie from a Pixar that has found itself in a weird sort of in-between phase for almost a decade now (not that a relative downturn of middling sequels/prequels and one notable flop is a cry for help or anything, especially when that same studio has still managed to release a gem like Inside Out or an instant classic like Coco within that same time-span). I don't mean "weird" as in "unconventional" or "fantastical", both of…

  • Godzilla: King of the Monsters

    Godzilla: King of the Monsters

    ★★★½

    Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: “Nobody goes to Godzilla movies for the characters!” Such an oft-repeated refrain isn’t entirely without merit, to be fair, as what kaiju fan wouldn’t crave wildly entertaining monster mayhem over a quiet character study? However, there is so much more to director Michael Dougherty’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters than just kaiju-vs-kaiju set pieces.

    What allows this film to both have and eat its cake is in its handling of the human…

  • The Farewell

    The Farewell

    ★★★★½

    We begin in a tense waiting room in China before cutting back and forth to the bustling streets of New York City. Billi (Awkwafina) is talking long-distance to her grandmother 'Nai Nai' (Zhao Shuzhen) on the phone, a pleasant conversation that runs the gamut of perfectly hyperbolic grandmotherly concerns (Wear a hat so you don't freeze to death! Don't let anyone steal your earrings!) to relatable generational-gap avoidance (Nai Nai carefully hides the fact that she's currently waiting on a…

  • Spider-Man: Far from Home

    Spider-Man: Far from Home

    ★★

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

    If there's one thing Marvel Studios has proven themselves incredibly adept at over the years (it's a lot more than just one thing, but work with me here folks), it's probably the rarest and most sought-after skill in our current blockbuster landscape: the ability to craft enjoyable, event-status fare that audiences keep coming back to again and again.

    Somewhere along the way, though, I can't help but wonder if this skill turned into something more closely resembling a sleight-of-hand trick.…

  • Us

    Us

    ★★★★

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

    "We are . . . Americans."

    It's 1986. Ronald Reagan is serving his second term as President of the United States. The Cold War is drawing to an unofficial close. Marketing for the charity fundraiser "Hands Across America" - ostensibly aimed towards fighting hunger and poverty - pop up on TV and even T-shirts.

    A fun-loving, yet somewhat reckless father takes his wife and young daughter to the Santa Cruz boardwalk for a night at the carnival. And because this…

  • Captain Marvel

    Captain Marvel

    ★★½

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

    It wasn't hard to notice that my IMAX showing for Captain Marvel was as packed as I've ever seen a Thursday night opening, meaning that by the time I'd bought my tickets the only decent seats left were the third row from the front. The nosebleeds, basically. A 28 x 58 sized screen, seated roughly 20 feet away, and 5 foot 5 me (I'm being a bit generous, mind you) slouching down and looking up the whole time - yeah,…

  • Leave No Trace

    Leave No Trace

    ★★★★½

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

    Debra Granik just gets perspective.

    Her previous film, Winter's Bone, starred a genuinely masterful Jennifer Lawrence as a teenager forced to grow up before her time and care for her remaining family in the harsh Ozark terrain, fending off the harmful intentions of the grizzled community surrounding her while trusting a select few to help find her missing father.

    Yet not once does Granik judge the dangerous, unpredictable individuals Lawrence's Ree comes across. Underneath their threatening exteriors, these are simply…

  • Slow West

    Slow West

    ★★★★

    A hapless boy, desperately out of his element, searches for his lost love. A rugged, world-weary drifter with mysterious motivations offers his services. And all the while, death slowly marches both ahead and behind them.

    As westerns go, that might not be a terribly original (or for that matter, uh, a very good) elevator pitch. John Maclean's debut almost seems like a needless exercise in futility - how do you burst onto the scene with any sort of conviction while…

  • Crimson Peak

    Crimson Peak

    ★★★½

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

    The house breathes. The house bleeds. And the house is haunted by its own past, exposed to the elements and literally sinking beneath the weight of its bloody secrets.

    Allerdale Hall, the Sharpe family's secluded estate, is as much a living entity as anyone else in this Gothic romance - if not more so. It just so happens to be in its death throes as this story begins; decaying from the inside out, yet formidable enough to retain a vibrant…