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  • Personal Shopper

    Personal Shopper

    ★★★½

    "This is an understandably divisive film, a ghost story that doesn’t particularly follow through on its supernatural elements; one key shot (involving doors opening) makes it, as far as I can tell, to fix the film’s meaning, either literally or allegorically. Protagonist Maureen (Kristen Stewart) makes her living purchasing clothes for an extremely capricious model, a job which involves regular travel between Paris and London. In other words, Maureen applies her taste and talents to understand and satisfy the taste…

  • Les Hautes Solitudes

    Les Hautes Solitudes

    ★★★

    "The closeness of the camera, combined with intense grain, is reminiscent of Peter Hutton’s approach to black and white: you’re watching a real space being thoughtfully and deliberately abstracted into an expressive, abstract, often quite grainy black-and-white palette. There’s great drama in a woman turning suddenly away from a blown-out window and moving into the near total darkness of a room, snuffing out all light in one quick violent pan. The subject may be suffering and loneliness; there is, nonetheless,…

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  • Magic Mike XXL

    Magic Mike XXL

    ★★★★

    Magic Mike XXL is a putatively "modest"/"small" film — $14.8 million budget, 28-day shooting schedule, a shambling road movie meant to showcase extended musical numbers and largely excising the first film's recessionary panic. (Business is discussed, specifically the hustle of running a small business, but it's not the dominant throughline motivating everything as in the first, a line of inquiry Soderbergh pursued in Erin Brockovich, Bubble and The Girlfriend Experience, in ways that increasingly played like a meta-text about his…

  • Frances Ha

    Frances Ha

    ★★★★

    This is the kind of movie that causes strongly polarized reactions based on each viewer's capacity to tolerate/recognize/empathize with those on-screen. Some people just can't handle watching 20-/30-something white people undergo minor crises within a basically privileged framework, which is understandable. (That said, I'm not sure why someone with that mindset would ever go watch ANY NOAH BAUMBACH MOVIE and ask afterwards — as some guy did — " if it had any sort of larger social context… besides only…