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  • King of the Hill

    King of the Hill

    ★★★★★

    I’ll take King of the Hill over “The Grapes of Wrath” in a heartbeat when it comes to surviving the Great Depression. Time and time again, it has been one of the most touching films of my life; it always gives me a little rumble and shuddering inside. Based on the A.E. Hotchner memoir but given heartbreak and lyricism, discovery and evocation of a lost time, I think it is Steven Soderbergh’s best film.

    Yet Soderbergh would have a big…

  • The Hill

    The Hill

    ★★★★½

    It should be name-dropped all the time as one of Sidney Lumet's best films (it's my #5 of his), and it often isn't. Is it because the title is generic enough, non-specific enough, inchoate in poster appearance enough that most cinephiles haven't bothered to look into it in the first place?

    The Hill with Sean Connery takes place at a British stockade in North Africa during World War II. Connery's disgraced former Squadron Sergeant Major is convicted for assaulting a…

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  • The Offence

    The Offence

    ★★★½

    There’s an unrivaled anger streak running through the veins of Sean Connery’s British detective in The Offence that’s so off-the-charts it is singularly compelling. Just minutes in, we are jolted right into an investigation of the rape of an underage girl. Sidney Lumet brandishes a baroque editing style for at least forty-five minutes in what feels like a departure from his usual sensibilities. What he reveals in plot is done more so by images than dialogue so you have much…

  • Before the Devil Knows You're Dead

    Before the Devil Knows You're Dead

    ★★★★★

    “It’s insured, so it’s a victimless crime.” – Andy

    The most anguished, tortured, complex, brilliant performance of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s career. Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead is the staggering crime drama where two hard luck brothers decide to knock off a mom and pop jewelry store – their very own mom and pop’s.

    Andy Hanson (Hoffman) proclaims, “We don’t want Tiffany’s. We want a Mom and Pop operation, in a busy place, on a Saturday when the week’s takes…

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  • Contagion

    Contagion

    ★★★★

    In 2011, I thought Contagion was very good but had far-fetched question marks only because I didn’t understand then the credibility of an airborne virus, microbes and pathogens, incubation periods, and generally the science of it all which happens to be based on actual science. I had looked at it as a “thriller.” I saw it again this week, and it predicted a lot of things right or to come, and while the science has certain variables compared to contemporary…

  • Uncut Gems

    Uncut Gems

    ★★★★★

    The movie of the year, and more, Adam Sandler is unleashed in what is one of the fifty greatest performances I’ve ever seen; Sandler is blustery and raging, chancy and impulsive, jealous and truculent, high-wire and manic, and very, very hysterical in his need to risk everything and go for broke.

    I’m not even sure at what point did I realize that I did not like Sandler’s New York Diamond District jeweler Howard Ratner. I had realized the film was…