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  • Alien

    Alien

    ★★★★★

    This is one of those movies that is so entirely exactly what it needs to be that it can't really be improved upon. You can iterate out the idea to great effect (ALIENS, countless knock-offs), but you can't take these pieces and create a superior experience. There are more ambitious movies, movies that do more for the human spirit, movies that find greater nuance in the human experience or mine deeper expressions of emotion and beauty. But there is no movie as good at being ALIEN as ALIEN.

  • Paterson

    Paterson

    ★★★★★

    This is the sort of movie that makes you okay with being alive for a while. (Also, there's a bit near the end that made me gasp so loud in the theater my girlfriend gave me A Look.)

  • Nashville

    Nashville

    ★★★★★

    This is one of those movies where I spent most of it thinking "This is really fun and good but I'm not sure exactly what-" and then the end happens and holy crap. The Altman Effect.

  • Wonder Woman

    Wonder Woman

    ★★★

    I'm honestly not sure _what_ I felt about this--Gadot has presence and she does most of what she's asked to do here well enough, but even she can't make climax work. (Doesn't help that her biggest hero scene happens about halfway through the film, and she's stuck doing the boring punching work during the ending.) Feels less like a strong narrative than a series of memorable ideas that ultimately end up having no place to go. But I've also been…

  • Spider-Man: Homecoming

    Spider-Man: Homecoming

    ★★½

    This was fine. It mostly just made me feel old. Also, too much Iron Man, and while there's no need to redo Uncle Ben's death, not dealing with Spidey's origin at all strips the character of a lot of what makes him distinct. He's not just some dorky teen with super-powers, he's a teen with super-powers who feels a personal responsibility to doing good because he knows what happens when you don't. Without that weight, his struggles in this (which…

  • Logan Lucky

    Logan Lucky

    ★★★½

    This was a lot of fun--a little shaggy and too long by the end, but by and large a hoot. I'm still astonished at how much I've come to like Channing Tatum, and Adam Driver and Daniel Craig (man, how great is it to see him do something like this?) were terrific as ever. Only major downside was a pointless appearance by Seth MacFarlane (I guess you could enjoy watching him get mocked, but since he's in on the mocking,…

  • Dunkirk

    Dunkirk

    ★★★½

    I enjoyed this. I just wish someone hadn't pointed out that the timeline on the beach doesn't hold up.

  • Alien: Covenant

    Alien: Covenant

    ★★★½

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

    Had a lot of fun with this, and easier to take than PROMETHEUS (which I'll admit I also liked, at least in part), largely because it doesn't spend as much time pretending we're supposed to care that much about the humans. Some nifty visuals, and significantly more ambitious/weird than the "slasher movie" trailers implied. ALIEN is better, of course, but I honestly think of both of Scott's "sequels" to ALIEN as weird riffs rather than anything approaching a narrative cannon.…

  • Blue Ruin

    Blue Ruin

    ★★★★

    There's a scene roughly half (maybe two-thirds?) of the way through, when the protagonist pays a clerk with a bloodstained bill. Dwight (the protagonist) is in bad shape, for reasons I don't need to go into here--suffice to say his efforts to get revenge for his parents' murder aren't going well. The clerk looks at the bill with the blood on it, and then stares at Dwight, half-disapproving, half-shocked.

    Dwight stares back. This would, in a normal thriller, be the…

  • Being John Malkovich

    Being John Malkovich

    ★★★★½

    I've been avoiding revisiting Eternal Sunshine lately, knowing that a viewing now would almost certainly render me a gibbering mess; BJM seemed a safer bet, especially seeing as how I'd got my hands on the terrific Criterion Blu-Ray. Well, I didn't have a breakdown or anything, but the movie I'd remembered vaguely as a smart, slightly mean-spirited existential comedy turned out to be... okay, basically that, but maybe not so much mean-spirited, and more just this absolutely unflinching study of…

  • Blow Out

    Blow Out

    ★★★★½

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

    Every time I get bored with Travolta, or think he's a joke, I need to re-watch this. Somebody write that down.

    I don't think I ever quite realized this before, but while the actual plotting gets a little messy at times (it's a De Palma film, I think I'd be disappointed if it didn't), the fact that John Lithgow's crazy is actually operating almost entirely on his own initiative is one of the script's stronger points. There are plenty evil…

  • The Silence of the Lambs

    The Silence of the Lambs

    ★★★★★

    When I was a kid, I had this linked up with Texas Chainsaw Massacre as a Movie That Will Probably Kill You If You Watch It. When I finally saw it, I wasn't disappointed or anything, but it certainly didn't have the raw, bleak found-object intensity of TCM; and watching it as an adult, I'm struck again by how warm and satisfyingly and richly human Silence is. It's a serial killer story that consistently refuses to turn anyone, victim or…