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  • The Ring Two

    The Ring Two

    ★★

    (First viewing of unrated cut; saw the theatrical cut in 2005 but remembered nothing of it.)

    Buried under a botched allegory of child abuse and postpartum depression is an interesting approach to cycles of violence, exploring the pathology of a victim who has become the abuser, and the ways trauma can warp our ability to negotiate the world in healthy and productive ways.

    The Ring Two is a direct sequel which assumes that you have seen and remember The Ring.…

  • Rings

    Rings

    Just Say No to death cults, kids, even if they say it's for the greater good of humanity.

    The few things I found even slightly interesting about the 2017 Rings—the broad strokes of the plot, the motivations of some secondary characters, and in-universe jargon like “tails”—all come from this original 2005 short. I disposed of the feature with a 7-word joke review, but this 16-minute film deserves a bit more than that.

    The “very film school” visual tricks of the…

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  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens

    Star Wars: The Force Awakens

    ★★★½

    Hey. Remember that thing you like? They made more, and they didn’t screw it up this time. They went back to the original recipe.

    Boy, did they ever.

    The Force Awakens doubles down on the series’ talismanic repetition of phrases and situations, to the point that it might as well be a remake of the first film. Unfortunately, it’s a sequel, and the weakest moments in the film are easily those featuring the original trilogy cast. (To be blunt, having…

  • 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…