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  • Prince of the City

    Prince of the City

    ★★★★

    Complex, sprawling, morally conflicted, and without any real good guys, all overlaid with some very, very smooth jazz.

  • The Brood

    The Brood

    ★★★★

    Excellent, earlier Cronenberg which has been somewhat eclipsed by later works like VIDEODROME. A bit less polished and sometimes cheesy, and clearly without anything near the same budget, but it contains all the elements: body horror, suspense, lots of shots of mid-late-century Toronto, including the interior of the Metro Toronto Police HQ at 590 Jarvis Street, which has since been thoughtlessly destroyed and replaced with condos.

  • Train to Busan

    Train to Busan

    ★★★

    Broke: Watching Contagion during coronavirus
    Woke: Watching Train to Busan during coronavirus

  • The Invisible Man

    The Invisible Man

    ★★★

    An interesting, creative thriller. They took the right approach here in a lot of ways but weighed themselves down with flat characters and dull lines. The second act is by far the most interesting, as the action in the third act feels dissonant. It sometimes strays into Twitter blue-checkmark wish-fulfillment territory with an unreservedly sympathetic battered-woman archetype for a main character who has no real personality or identity, and who the writers can't decide is very competent or totally incompetent.…

  • Catch-22

    Catch-22

    ★★★★

    A valuable film nowadays simply because it, and the novel it's adapted from, debunk the pop-culture narrative: that WWII was the "good war" and Vietnam was the "bad war". Catch-22 portrays a WWII of Kafkaesque bureaucracy and the dominating question: what are the Americans really doing in Italy? Do the Italians even want them there? What is the point of the war? It undercuts the mythology of WWII in ways almost no other film does. For this, it is a must-watch.

  • The Deer Hunter

    The Deer Hunter

    ★★★★½

    What a truly brilliant film. Viewed in its time, it might have been seen more straightforwardly as three young men from small-town Pennsylvania being thrown into the Vietnam War. But seen over 40 years later, every American shot, meant to establish the normalcy, the rough-but-honest background of these characters, is a glimpse of a destroyed, nearly-forgotten world. It wasn't the Vietnamese who destroyed places like Clairton, Pennsylvania, it was American business interests -- the same forces behind the Vietnam War.…

  • Trespass

    Trespass

    ★★½

    Fun little microcosm of early-90s media blackness and 90s racial politics -- there's racial tension between the black and white characters, and an examination of poverty in East St. Louis, but nothing that would come across as especially woke by today's standards. As it almost always is with such films, the gold itself is pretty much a pure McGuffin, letting the twists and turns of the plot unfold in front of it. Ice Cube is the real winner here, playing…

  • Un Flic

    Un Flic

    ★★★½

    Full of repressed-but-roiling emotions, this film is best typified by its ever-present blue filter: sad but also angry, frustrated, filled with calm and with storms. The world is unfair and everyone in this film knows it. There are no answers here. It's brilliant.

  • First Blood

    First Blood

    ★★★★

    The years haven't been kind to Rambo. A film about a traumatized war veteran turned into a franchise perpetuating the kind of values the original was meant to be against -- trigger-happy macho cowboys harassing a guy who just wanted to be left alone.

  • 1917

    1917

    ★★★★½

    I was given a certain set of expectations from what I'd read before I saw this one. I figured that the characters would be serviceable but nothing to phone home about, that there may be some unrealistic aspects regarding gun handling and accuracy, and that it would be absolutely technically flawless, but ultimately sterile.

    It was much less sterile than I expected. The way that Blake echoed throughout the film even after his death -- with the milk, the cherry…

  • The Gentlemen

    The Gentlemen

    ★★★½

    Either you like Ritchie or you don't. Perhaps self indulgent at times, it's nevertheless fresh and interesting - the cliché of choreographed melees are lampooned by fighters wearing GoPros, McConaughey plays his most quietly psychotic role since True Detective, and the bearded, waistcoated hipster consiglieri who looks like a Sherlock Holmes extra fighting Adidas-wearing teens in South London really establish it as a 2019 film - there's even an oblique reference to Brexit. This stuff will probably date the film in time, but for now it works. Hopefully this is the beginning of a revitalized crime-action subgenre that hit a dead end in the 2000s.

  • Knives Out

    Knives Out

    ★★★

    Fine, but it just didn't capture me. There's nothing wrong with the plot, and the structure is innovative, but the star studded ensemble casting weakened the characters, and Johnson lets his Trump Derangement Syndrome run wild in ways that will make this film age very, very poorly, and is practically on the level of Holmes & Watson.

    A film where a younger man matches wits with an elderly mystery writer in his rural estate house full of creepy mannequins. Is it…