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  • Lady Bird

    Lady Bird

    ★★½

    I'm not sure why "Lady Bird" is getting so much acclaim from critics except that Greta Gerwig is an indie film darling. It's got all the clichés of the coming of age film except they're presented with quirkiness clearly derived from Noah Baumbach and Whit Stillman; only the film is trying too hard to look like it's not trying too hard. We get mother-daughter dysfunction, boyfriend problems, the yearning to get out of a bland city, the protagonist leaving the…

  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens

    Star Wars: The Force Awakens

    ★★½

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

    The good: Daisy Ridley is fantastic and fully inhabits the character of Rey with great vitality. Han Solo and Chewbacca are back in all their former glory. BB-8 works as the new R2. C3-PO makes a funny first appearance. This world feels like it has some weight again now that not everything is CGI.

    In the middle: John Boyega was good but Finn's character arc of a rebelling stormtrooper didn't feel fleshed out.

    The bad: It doesn't function as a…

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  • Room

    Room

    ★★★★

    The story about a woman held captive for sex and the child she raises in a single room shed could be ripped from the headlines, but there's nothing about the film that feels tawdry or exploitative. Director Lenny Abrahamson presents everything matter of factly and his direction is efficient and feels effortless. The scene of the escape attempt is as intense as any movie scene this year. But most of the power comes from the two leads. Jacob Tremlay gives…

  • Phoenix

    Phoenix

    ★★

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

    This movie's getting a lot of acclaim, but I gotta wonder how much this is holocaust-drama-means-critics- automatically-go-gaga syndrome. Maybe it's just not for me because I can't stand the irrational woman lovesick for the wrong guy trope. But even so, this movie is a very stilted period piece that sets up a pretty absurd premise, woman returns to husband who thinks she's someone else, and then does nothing with it. He can't recognize her voice or body language? I get…