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  • Steamboat Bill, Jr.

    Steamboat Bill, Jr.

    ★★★★★

    From his bohemian style to his clumsy, foppish mannerisms, Buster seems so clearly coded as being gay in this. There's the obligatory love story, yes, but even that feels more platonic than anything -- it's just two friends reconnecting in a place they don't really belong. In that regard, this is less a romantic underdog story and more a comedy about acceptance -- about a father's acceptance of his long-absent gay son. I'm sure you could say this is just…

  • Tristana

    Tristana

    ★★★★

    Easily the coldest of the three or four Buñuel films I've seen -- and the most oblique. Is it a revenge story? A probing of the corrupting effects of sexual trauma? Is Tristana a masochist who discovers another side to herself when the power dynamics are suddenly flipped? It's tough to tell because of all that Buñuel withholds from us -- what happened during Tristana's upbringing and during the two years that she spends away from her abuser. The final sequence of shots feels almost like a joke -- a montage designed to provoke the audience to search for an answer that he refuses to give.

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  • American Movie

    American Movie

    ★★★★★

    I guess some people think this is exploitative, but it and the people in it are so inspiring to me. I love Mark Borchardt’s obsession with film; how he talks excitedly about shooting on 16mm black-and-white reversal stock and then later spends months stuck at a flatbed, cutting his direct-market thriller together. Watching this at a time when everyone has an HD camera and edit suite in their pocket, it’s amazing to watch a group of people who probably have…

  • A Simple Plan

    A Simple Plan

    ★★★★★

    If Evil Dead was Raimi's attempt to make the ultimate horror movie (torn up Hills Have Eyes poster and all), then this feels like him doing the same to the Coen neo-noir, raising the stakes by sucking out the style and the humor, leaving a bleak emotional void in its place. The entire cast is so good in this, but Bridget Fonda might be the low-key MVP, turning an even darker version of her scheming Jackie Brown character on and…