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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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  • Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)

    Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)

    Not all that fantabulous honestly but definitely has more than enough moments to be enjoyable.

    There are long stretches, particularly early on, where the lolrandom approach feels forced and I would rather be watching, you know, an actual Birds of Prey ensemble movie instead of a somewhat desperate-feeling Harleypool dealio, but eventually the movie stops tying its own shoelaces together and cuts loose.

    I'm wary of giving this movie more credit than it deserves but it's hard not to notice…

  • Suicide Squad

    Suicide Squad

    Even more inept and inert than I remembered, with Robbie the only real (intermittent) bright spot in a sad jackalope of a movie, sawdust spilling from jagged seams, crooked antlers sagging at awkward angles.

    (previously)

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  • 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…

  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens

    Star Wars: The Force Awakens

    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…