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  • Eighth Grade

    Eighth Grade

    ★★★½

    For most of its running time chubby, acne-infected, and bereft of friends, thirteen-year-old YouTuber Kayla (a game Elsie Fisher)'s is more like a damsel caught in an excruciating Lars Von Trier trap than a naïf's coming of age struggle with alienation. Burnham invites us to tagalong as witnesses to her Dantesque agonies and occasional ecstasies as she ascends from her inferno (intermediate school) to purgatory (a frenemy's pool party) and then paradise (fieldtrips to high school and, gasp, the mall!).…

  • Dumbo

    Dumbo

    ★★★★★

    Viewed at Film Forum Junior.

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  • My Neighbor Totoro

    My Neighbor Totoro

    ★★★★★

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    My Neighbor Totoro opens with a doting, bookish father transplanting himself and his two adorable girls, roly-poly Mei (the curious, courageous) and svelte Satsuki (the conscientious and dutiful), to a verdant farming village. They are moving to bring the family nearer to their mother, who is bedridden in a neighboring hospice gracefully enduring an unnamed malady.

    The house they move into has been shut tight against the elements. A traditional Japanese dwelling with sliding panel walls and doors, they playfully…

  • La La Land

    La La Land

    ★★★½

    Giving the many favorable invocations of Demy, I was eagerly anticipating La La Land's breathtaking opening sequence and a heartrending bittersweet ending. But I really wasn't satisfied by either. The opening's cinematographic choreography was engaging enough, but the dance choreography seemed more like jumbled group parkour exercise than Hollywood musical showcase.

    Umbrellas of Cherbourg and West Side Story set the standard for bittersweet musicals in my book. In those films the gritty real world tragically transforms the characters-- even the…