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  • Bacurau

    Bacurau

    ★★★½

    I never did end up writing about this. But I did write some journalism about the first nine weeks of "virtual cinemas," the box office returns from those runs, whether those are numbers are good (and if so, for whom), and whether this window of exhibition is here to stay permanently. And since Bacurau is one of the early success stories of this experiment, I'm parking this link here.

  • The Pageant

    The Pageant

    ★★★½

    " The idea of an event called 'Miss Holocaust Survivor Beauty Pageant' seems so self-evidently dystopian that not even Southland Tales would have thought to include it, and my first reaction wouldn’t certainly align with the cheery evaluation of Ted Thornhill, filing for the Daily Mail on the 2016 edition documented in Ipeker’s film: 'These women show that joy can come from even the darkest of experiences.' My skin was crawling from the first scene, where two women from the…

  • Adaptation.

    Adaptation.

    ★★★½

    "There’s zero chance I was the only one who went to film school shortly after (fall of 2004) with a firm animus against McKee specifically, and 'good screenwriting practices' generally, stoked by Adaptation. The NYU reality turned out to be way grimmer than expected." More here.

  • Intimate Distances

    Intimate Distances

    ★★★½

    "Phillip Warnell’s Intimate Distances immediately situates itself at an intersection I know well: Steinway St. and 34th Ave. in Queens, the intersection of the closest M/R train stop to the (indefinitely shuttered) Museum of the Moving Image. DP Jarred Alterman’s camera rests on a roof, slowly zooming in and out of a (now mouthwatering) procession of normal New Yorkers going about their daily business, slowly settling on a short, white-haired white woman leisurely pacing back and forth. Over the next…

  • Mysterious Skin

    Mysterious Skin

    ★★★½

    "Mysterious Skin wasn’t 'sexually explicit' relative to such contemporary, 'boundary-pushing' releases as the unsimulated low-fi sex of Nine Songs or the considerably glossier The Dreamers, with its featured attraction of Michael Pitt’s penis as part of another attempt to reclaim the NC-17 for respectability." More here.

  • Kokoloko

    Kokoloko

    ★★★½

    I'm not entirely sure what the function of this is, but here's my interview with Gerardo Naranjo about his new movie, which is definitely fun, nominally premiered at this year's Tribeca, and which I have no idea when pretty much anyone reading this will be able to see it. I watched it on a streaming link from a sales agency watermarked twice over.

  • Twelve Monkeys

    Twelve Monkeys

    ★★★★

    "12 Monkeys is, in a meaningful sense, a remake of La Jetée, but it’s more focused on Vertigo, about which it’s not particularly subtle. After Willis and Stowe put on their disguises, they sit in a rep theater and watch it, issuing the thunderously banal (but true!) observation that every time you rewatch a film, “You aren’t the same person who saw the movie before.” Gilliam takes this logic a few steps further by refashioning the material into deliberate visual…

  • Léon: The Professional

    Léon: The Professional

    ★★½

    Just a note that I didn't actually watch Léon, because that is the name of the full director's cut. I just streamed the original theatrical release version (available on, of all things, a free CBS portal on Apple TV), which was more than enough.

  • Ghost World

    Ghost World

    ★★★½

    "Ghost World is exactly the same as when I saw it at the precisely correct age of 15: teen angst springing in part from the (not incorrect) perception that American life is basically a banal nightmare to be escaped from, if not actively scorned, at every possible opportunity. Theoretically 18-year-olds living in 2001, Enid (Thora Birch) and Rebecca (Scarlett Johansson) seem less like millennials on the cusp of workplace/college entry than especially snide Gen X’ers, their disdain (and the film’s) unevenly distributed around a number of targets, some more justifiable than others." More here.

  • Yi Yi

    Yi Yi

    ★★★★½

    "The most endearing character—Ota, Issey Ogata’s nearly saintly Japanese video game mogul—is now the oddest element. The skyscraper where dad NJ (Wu Nien-jen) works has an amazing view, enhanced by pigeons regularly flying out at pretty magical moments—a real gift to any shoot, since I can’t imagine bird wranglers were perched out of frame in a crane (none are listed in the credits anyway). Ogata comes to make his pitch, then—while NJ is conferring with his venal partners about how…

  • Groundhog Day

    Groundhog Day

    ★★★½

    This is one long joke about reshoots, changing actor reactions take by take, and continuity, which isn’t automatically a metaphor for anything, just a logistical pain in the ass. But it’s also an opportunity for redoes and seeing how each choice produces new, branching-off results, and I’m surprised every Hong movie since like A Tale of Cinema hasn’t been compared to this.

    This is a peak “Bill Murray vehicle” for him to be quippy, reflexively disdainful and so stuck within…

  • Stranger Than Paradise

    Stranger Than Paradise

    ★★★★

    I'd seen this once before, in high school, on a standard-def DVD. Obviously pretty iconic. Thought about two things while rewatching it:

    * Legs McNeil going off: "Television, burgers, drinking, violent behavior? ... I love all of that. I declare these things to be mine. I appoint liking Hogan's Heroes and McDonald's to be cool. I love America, too. I love everything about Modern America, the long freeways, Republicans, marching off to foreign wars for no reason, the whole bit.…