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  • A Star Is Born

    A Star Is Born

    ★★★★

    Sadly, this is an example of a five-star first hour and a three-star everything else.

  • Blade Runner 2049

    Blade Runner 2049

    ★★★

    I fell asleep during BLADE RUNNER 2049 at least four times, including in theaters.

    Now, this isn’t the movie’s fault; the problem is how I was coming to the movie, i.e. exhausted from work and past bedtime. But those naps gave the movie grandeur — when any mid-movie scene could be a cold open, my groggy curiosity was easily piqued: How did we end up in this particular weird slice of dystopia?

    Actually watching it straight through, however, the movie…

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  • American Hustle

    American Hustle

    ★★

    I've avoided prestige-era "Reinvention Trilogy" Russell until now, but my memory of FLIRTING WITH DISASTER and THREE KINGS is that they are such complete works, little symphonies with a million instruments in funky harmony. AMERICAN HUSTLE is just an orchestra tuning up, a movie of solid tactics and no strategy. There's a scene where all five leads are together for the first time, and it should play like the final screw-tightening to which the movie has been building, but instead…

  • Nebraska

    Nebraska

    ★★★

    Payne's movies often have supporting characters that are aggrieved because they feel they deserve something -- Church in SIDEWAYS deserves one last fling, Bridges and company in DESCENDANTS deserve their share of the land sale. There's a bunch of those characters in NEBRASKA, venal shitheels who want to either begin or continue taking advantage of Dern, at best monetizing previous kindnesses and at worst fleecing an old man. It's hard to fault a comedy its punchlines, and these characters provide…