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  • Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay

    Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay

    ★★★

    Legendary polymath Ricky Jay died on Saturday. He was an actor, a magician, a raconteur, a prodigy, a cardshark, an autodidact, historian, author, and perhaps the greatest sleight-of-hand artist of his generation. He was the world’s foremost expert on confidence schemes, gambler’s cheats, and the entire history of civilized treachery, and then in his 40s he became a Hollywood character actor to pay the bills. He led a more interesting life than I can imagine without assistance of psychedelics.

    I…

  • BlacKkKlansman

    BlacKkKlansman

    ★★★½

    It's been two months since I watched this, but I doubt that a week has gone by when I haven't thought about the scene where Ron dances with Patrice to "Too Late to Turn Back Now" by Cornelius Bros. & Sister Rose, and the camera just floats with these young people who are vibing on the moment—singing along to a pop song that speaks to them, to their experiences, to the world they're trying to make real. There aren't many directors…

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  • American Hustle

    American Hustle

    ★★½

    AD: "Auteurs Direct, this is John, how may I help you?"

    DOR: "Returns, please."

    AD: "Which Auteurs Direct product are you looking to return today?"

    DOR: "I ordered one Scorsese '70s Starter Kit, but I was sent the Ted Demme version instead. I'm looking for the Scorsese, the vintage model."

    AD: "I'm afraid your previous orders suggest the Scorsese '70s Starter Kit isn't compatible with your toolset, so that's why we sent you the Ted Demme. You've purchased the Remedial…

  • Spotlight

    Spotlight

    ★★

    Noble mediocrity, of the most self-consciously humble order. Co-writer and director Tom McCarthy starts with an unnecessary flashback and tip-toes through the chronology of events with the literal-mindedness of a 7th-grade book report: Convenient facts, laid out in a row, delivered with the shrunken vocabulary of a child. It's a work of service-journalism that wants to be judged on its clear-eyed morality; it deserves to be seen as an artless, charmless piece of homework that refuses to challenge its audience…