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  • The Endless

    The Endless

    ★★★★

    Time is a flat circle.

  • Dolemite Is My Name

    Dolemite Is My Name

    ★★★★

    Charming, feel good tale of a hustler determined to succeed in the face of constant doubt and scorn. Great performances all round, but Da'Vine Joy Randolph provides the most deeply human portrayal as Lady Reed. While relatively slight and simple, it still manages to avoid the pitfalls of a vanity project and effectively captures the tasteless but earnest appeal of Rudy Ray Moore.

  • Sweetheart

    Sweetheart

    ★★★★

    The metaphor is pretty heavy-handed and obvious, but it hangs together very well and has some subtle layers if you're willing to dig a little deeper into the less expository elements. Plus, it's always nice to have a protagonist that is more clever and capable than the gimmick demands. Lean and mean with something to say. Can't ask for much more than that.

  • El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie

    El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie

    ★★★★★

    Masterful. Relies upon investment in its television series origin, and that might cause Scorsese to claim it's not cinema, but he would be wrong. This is peak long form storytelling, impeccably written and realized on the screen of any size.

  • The Ninth Configuration

    The Ninth Configuration

    ★★★★

    Even better the second time around as the significance of small details is more readily apparent, and some of the dialogue late in the film feels less expository and more confessional when the viewer is not as distracted by following the sequence of events.

  • In the Tall Grass

    In the Tall Grass

    ★★★½

    Mediocre take on In the Walls of Eryx with some ghoulish shocks tacked on seemingly to ensure some degree of genre credibility. Director Vincenzo Natali delivers some impressive visuals, but also indulges in some CGI dream imagery to reinforce tone and pad out the sparse plot. Watchable, but ultimately forgettable fare.

  • Nightmares

    Nightmares

    ★★

    Nightmares aka Stage Fright feels like it suffered from its own personal slashing in the editing room. The backstory is presented chronologically, complete with date stamps, yet the film flashes back to it repeatedly as if it was meant to be ambiguous. Similarly, the bloody murders are shot POV even though the killer is not otherwise concealed. I'm guessing they planned a traditional whodunit slasher and then someone got cute and tried to make a character study out of it. Interesting idea, but it just doesn't come together, and it all begins to get rather tiresome.

  • The Attic

    The Attic

    ★★★

    Even if one of my peers at the library expresses a lifelong dream of owning a monkey, and one sits forlorn in a pet shop window downtown, I'm not buying it for them. Sorry if that makes me a bad person.

  • Death Watch

    Death Watch

    ★★★½

    Somber, melancholy science fiction in the vein of Soylent Green or Children of Men (without the flashy direction). Definitely nails the ennui of its reality entertainment-driven future and empty outrage substituting for purpose. Depressing and timely in all the right ways.

  • Humanoids from the Deep

    Humanoids from the Deep

    ★★★★

    "The Shadow Over Noyo"

    The continuity and editing are atrocious (a dummy seemingly reacts to the ventriloquist's death, a la The Pit, with no supernatural explanation possible), but Humanoids delivers all the gore and sheer slimy nastiness other, lesser films would ration out or just avoid entirely. In a more "glass half full" perspective, I prefer to consider the feminist elements as enhancing an exploitation monster movie rather than seeing them as undercut by all the gratuitous elements, even if…

  • City of the Living Dead

    City of the Living Dead

    ★★★½

    Pretty nonsensical, but sometimes style does indeed trump substance.

  • Almost Human

    Almost Human

    Decided to rewatch this because my wife hadn't seen it and the director has two new films at this year's Fantastic Fest and maybe I was too harsh the first time around...

    Big mistake. Terribly written, acted, and directed, with a lot of scenes that scream "Good enough," with lackadaisical resignation. Attempts at using thrift store artifacts to imply a late 80's setting are laughable. And the whole thing is shamelessly padded out to feature length. Ugh.