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  • Magnolia

    Magnolia

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

    (Note: this is more of a personal essay than a review, but for me, with this particular film, that’s probably unavoidable.)

    According to my 1999 journal, my entire reaction to Magnolia—my 376th theatrical screening of the year—was: “Great fucking film. Three fucking hours. Not actually sure why it’s called Magnolia.”

    I didn’t know it at the time, but the film had its hooks in me. Just over two weeks later, as 1999 rolled over into 2000 and the digital plague…

  • Atomic Blonde

    Atomic Blonde

    We see as through a CRT, darkly, the fragility and absurd dignity of the naked human form, with transiently-conscious meatsacks numbing pain with alternating ice and fire as they shamble toward arbitrary goals. Briefly, magically ambulatory, then suddenly, permanently still.

    Time-capsule plotting, endlessly and needlessly Byzantine. Betrayal leading to revelation leading fractally to a new cycle as we try to ignore that there is nothing inside the final matryoshka doll, and never was. There is no satisfying end to the…

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  • The Day of the Beast

    The Day of the Beast

    Never quite lives up to its opening credits sequence, a deadpan reel of slapstick Satanism, but still manages to wring both laughs and heavier emotional beats from genial fanatics raising hell for what they believe is the best reason in the world. The premise and main trio of actors are good enough to get this past the many rough patches and moments where the (lack of) balance between broad farce and pitch-black humor doesn't quite work. I first saw this…

  • The Conjuring 2

    The Conjuring 2

    Did not finish.

    Wanted to catch up so I could participate in the threequel zeitgeist but I forgot how much of an Angry Internet Atheist scold the Based On A True Story framing of a pair of liars and/or lunatics for the lord makes me. I generally aim for chill nontheistic philosophical absurdism but since I don't think these movies have an ounce of sincere religious conviction their pretense to the contrary genuinely strikes me as depraved and immoral.

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  • The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters

    The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters

    Billy Mitchell, 2004:

    “The worst thing that could happen would be to give somebody the credibility of a score that doesn’t deserve it. But even far worse than that would be to deny somebody the credibility when they deserved it.”

    Steve Wiebe, 2004:

    “It’s just, I mean, I know to win is like, so important. But to blatantly do things that are against the rules, and know in your heart that you didn’t do it correctly, and get credit for…

  • Spider-Man: Homecoming

    Spider-Man: Homecoming

    A soulless superhero franchise film and an inept high school comedy try to make it work for the sake of the kids; the forced smiles and underlying tension permeate every moment.

    As a super-hero movie, Homecoming is exactly the glop you’d expect from two movie studios executing two competing business plans. I knew that this movie would ultimately devolve into a blur of CGI—they all do—so I could hardly be surprised or disappointed by that. My hopes and fears were…