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  • The Manchurian Candidate

    The Manchurian Candidate

    ★★★★★

    Accept your life and what it brings
    I hope tomorrow you'll find better things
    I know tomorrow you'll find better things

  • Me and Orson Welles

    Me and Orson Welles

    ★★★

    I can see what drove Linklater to this material; a movie about wannabe artists at turning points in their lives just shooting the shit could hardly be more up his alley. But something about the way this comes together feels not just anonymous, but actively uncanny in spots. The big glaring problem is that Zac Efron, at this point in his career, is in over his head in this part, and he doesn't really do well with Linklaterian wit. But…

  • I Am Easy to Find

    I Am Easy to Find

    ★★★★★

    To see a life laid bare like this, it's so much and yet it's nothing at all. I understand that Malick is still kicking, but Mills is the only filmmaker out there who's still giving me the sensation of watching The Tree of Life for the first time, seeing a vision of the world that captures it at its most beautiful and its most haunting.

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

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

    ★★★½

    The comedy is hit-and-miss and the structure tows the line between a fun experiment and just garden-variety convoluted, but on the levels of a). performances, b). style, and c). bone-crunching, this is pretty much unimpeachable. Special commendation goes to Mary Elizabeth Winstead bringing the too rarely visualized sensation of "am I trying too hard or too little?" to the screen, and to everybody on-set who saw Ewan McGregor's grotesque dandy performance and didn't tell him to stop; this is the kind of scenery-chewing we're too often deprived of in modern cinema.

  • The Newton Boys

    The Newton Boys

    ★★★½

    The best of the b-tier Linklaters, and maybe the only one of the bunch I would recommend without serious caveats. The complaints about this lacking tension aren't necessarily off the mark (and the attempts to add a little tension are all nonstarters, most egregiously the half-hearted Julianna Margulies subplot), but it gets by so thoroughly on charm alone that I didn't even really think it to be a problem until reading the reactions afterwards. It helps that McConaughey was born to play a charismatic bank robber, and Hawke was born to play a slightly drunker charismatic bank robber.

  • SubUrbia

    SubUrbia

    ★★★½

    Linklater and his aim to make the chillest movies imaginable was always going to be a weird match with Bogosian's bitterness, and for the first half it just feels like Bogosian's scorched-earth cynicism is harshing Linklater's vibes and Linklater's loose hangout energy is deflating Bogosian's strength at pressure-cooker tension. But the second half feels like it clues into the tone needed to make the combination work; just making the whole thing unbearably sad. These aren't Linklater's usual amateur philosophers and dreamers, they're fuck-ups saying things they don't mean and doing things they don't like because nobody's gonna listen to them otherwise.

  • 20th Century Women

    20th Century Women

    ★★★★★

    On every single one of these eight viewings, the end sneaks up on me. It has no reason to, I know practically every beat and line by heart, I know where it goes and what the big picture forms. And yet, every time, hearing Pete Shelley beg for basic contact, I have the realization that I've just watched the grand unifying theory of humanity, and it knocks me out cold. A man loved and missed his mother, and so he…

  • Uncut Gems

    Uncut Gems

    ★★★★★

    "KG havin' fun."

    Have come around on this not just being tense and sad, but maybe the most moving film I've ever seen. A film about how capitalism will crush us all like bugs, but also about how maybe, just maybe, humanity can still survive the torment. All this plus the silly energy of a movie that might've just been made as a prank, what more do you want from cinema?

  • The Truth About Charlie

    The Truth About Charlie

    ★★★★½

    Don't fucking talk to me if you don't cry at the end of The Truth About Charlie (dir. Jonathan Demme, 2002).

  • Shoot the Piano Player

    Shoot the Piano Player

    ★★★★½

    A crime movie where the crime is the least of anybody's concerns at the moment. You can see why Demme took to it.

  • Paul McCartney's Get Back

    Paul McCartney's Get Back

    ★★

    I dunno what exactly I was expecting from this, but I figured the combo of Richard Lester and Jordan Cronenweth would make it worth a watch. Nope. This was a uniquely depressing viewing experience for how it shows one of the most exciting directors of his time reduced to indifferently directing a glossy recreation of his glory days. The performances themselves are fine, I guess, but you couldn't tell this from the DP of Stop Making Sense and the director…

  • Royal Flash

    Royal Flash

    ★★★★

    Most of what comes before the plot is revealed feels a little off, pitched sillier than the Musketeers movies but without Lester's superlative slapstick, rooted more in historical in-jokes that mostly elicit smiles of recognition rather than laughs. Thank god then that everything from the swordfight in the kitchen on is an utter delight, history blundered through by a complete dipshit. And even in the uniformly posh settings (with Geoffrey Unsworth providing more classical cinematography than Lester's usual go-to David…