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  • Black Panther

    Black Panther

    ★★★

    Black Panther is notable for being by far the biggest budgeted black superhero film ($200 million) up to this point in time and the first in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, its 18th film. It is thematically interesting, looking at the tug between moral duties to one's own country when it clashes with moral obligations to the rest of the world. The issues are topical, weighing isolationism against helping other countries, and the movie expectedly comes out on the anti-Trumpian side.…

  • 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…

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  • 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…

  • 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…