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A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

Amirpour relishes in not giving us the whole story. The Girl talks about The Beatles like she remembers them but she never mentions how. In cross-examining the image of the chador with this new wave rebel feminist, Amirpour crafts a startling image of repressed terror.
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Latest Features

The Fight to Be Fathered: False Politics in Black Panther

The Fight to Be Fathered: False Politics in Black Panther

This is a film made with the intention of proving that black actors should not be typecast as thugs, yet part of its comedic scheme is the counter-marginalization that all white people are colonizers. Black Panther admirably opposes prejudice when it’s directed at certain groups, but I would have preferred it, especially if its goal was “elevation,” to oppose all prejudice equally.
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Ghostbusters (2016) and the Sony Problem

Ghostbusters (2016) and the Sony Problem

This below-average comedy becomes a disreputable slog by whoring out its cast for a studio’s marketing angle. It becomes socially harmful in the guise of good, a defiler in prophet’s clothing, when it promotes the fair representation of young girls in a film whose feministic prowess never exceeds petty and ill-conceived passes at men, whom Sony counter-marginalizes as comeuppance, as though the playground is the most intellectual arena to which feminism has ever gained access.
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The Fault in Our Selves: Peter Rabbit and the Innocence Problem

The Fault in Our Selves: Peter Rabbit and the Innocence Problem

Art isn’t just a product: it’s a testament to the beliefs that made it. What beliefs does Peter Rabbit celebrate? A belief in art or analytics, in magic or in marketing? I remember thinking the same of Kangaroo Jack, of which Peter Rabbit is more a successor than to Potter. At least it’s so disparate from itself that it says nothing about her and everything about us.
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Recent Reviews

The African Queen
Movies of this kind had a habit of staging an adventure but keeping emotions safe and detached, with characters that went through the bother of dressing in jungle wear but without the bother of acting beyond their British parlors. But here Huston aims at unprecedented realism in confecting a gritty jungle for his two stars to get entangled in, particularly
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Primal Fear
Vail’s at the center of more than a simple case in Primal Fear. Hoblit manages to take a spritely charity dinner and suffuse it with hidden terror, as a boys’ choir’s gloomy opera parodies Vail’s chummy handshakes with the city’s finest smiles. Vail discovers that he himself is the fulcrum in all the foul events floating up in the harbor
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Hellraiser
Nothing about Hellraiser has the remotest sense of dread (besides perhaps that sense that it’ll inevitably become a franchise). Even Frank as he gradually corporealizes has the sad eyes and questionable brow anatomy you may expect less from a Barker body horror than from an alien ambassador on Star Trek: The Next Generation.
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Rocco
Thematic duplicity is even more apparent in the disjunction between the film and its ostensible subject, the international porn “giant,” Rocco Siffredi, a disjunction the great film critic Manny Farber would have identified as being between Termite Art and White Elephant Art.
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The Incredibles
The film blasts an affectionate symphony of action spy movie set pieces, which Bird composes with such a self-believing style that he reminds me less of a director than of a virtuoso performer. And even they become a back-drop to what is essentially a mid-life crisis film, about a man who misses himself so much that he doesn’t even notice
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The Insignificance of Language in It (2017)
It is a movie with no individual voice and, appropriately enough, it treats language as an impediment to be renounced. Language in It is either an echo or agent of fear. The bullies and auxiliary villains perceive language as intractable from their dominance.
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Battle Royale
Fukasaku proves to be a master of the micro-story, the combinations of tiny joys and creeping terrors into one huge, fleeting, emotional whole. After decades of cultural regression, he evokes Japanese cinema’s desperate, horrific roar. It has a primal beauty, of the kind that will always be repressed, misunderstood.
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Hello Dolly!
Hello, Dolly! can’t get passed Streisand. It’s a solo concert trying to be a movie. Character is more a windfall than a result of the plot, which concerns Dolly pulling so many strings to get what she wants that it’s not even clever – it’s so decadently convenient that she seems to have the writers on her side.
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12 Monkeys
12 Monkeys is not pleasing to the mind or the eye. But when was Gilliam ever in the business of pleasure? Brad Pitt swoons against Willis with contrapuntal glory, playing off-type to the point of madness even for a character supposedly called mad.
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Robin and the 7 Hoods
This moral naysaying is shockingly against type for a film bursting with Copacabana headliners. Remember that these are the guys hired explicitly to hold a mic in one hand, a drink in the other, and to generate a fantasy of wealth and well-meaningness that makes thousands of less charming people mistake clubbing for having fun. Robin and the 7 Hoods
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Corpse Bride
Corpse Bride has 77 minutes to dazzle with its artistry, yet it wastes its time with misinformation stories, a plot twist telegraphed so obviously it physically hurts, and generally inessential and confusing background noise.
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One A.M.
This early studio work for Mutual Films, of which One A.M. stands apart if not in medium then in conviction, is less decipherable now, as though it comes from an era when music was rhythm without tone. Mutual is Chaplin’s most uninhibited work however, the work with the least distance to travel from his brain to the screen.
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10 Cloverfield Lane
10 Cloverfield Lane films with cinematography that doesn’t pander to what an audience expects, but pressures it to believe everything it says. Where normal budget horror jolts the viewer with harsh twangs and a false scare that you know is coming, 10 Cloverfield Lane never falsifies anything.
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The Thing (2011)
The Thing’s lack of a stable form worked for Carpenter, who was able to squeeze a pure and palpable uncertainty out of never knowing who or what the Thing exactly was. But in Heijningen’s version, it seems to be more a matter of horror tradition than the transcription of a bold idea.
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The Foreigner
Martin Campbell, who mined James Bond for the repressed roar of all his debonair instincts in Casino Royale, seems to have no mission briefing on Quan. The Foreigner is so disinterested in its lead that it seems to be made by a computer, which would not be able to tell who is more interesting except by how handsome they are.
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Alice Through the Looking Glass
I struggle to think of one moment in which this film feels like it has a director. Alice Through the Looking Glass is flat in every crisp, artificial image, every gorgeously boring background and weightless character model. Bobin strains to capture even Burton’s hedonistic interpretation of Carroll’s world.
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Logan
Mangold and John Mathieson let framing do the talking in Logan, leaving out the poster-worthy photo shoots the Avengers love so much in favor of bone-crushing close frames. Prejudice has always been a theme of X-Men and Bryan Singer was praised for evoking it through speeches. Mangold doesn’t need words, crafting oppression from an expressionist’s harshly lit, intimate frame.
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Batman Returns
Batman is the man Bruce Wayne wishes he was, an empowerment trip mythologized into a performance. Batman is Bruce’s mania, his love, his coming-into-being. Batman Returns is as perfect at portraying him as live-action has been, though there were many angry mothers whose frightened children screamed to recall its atrocities.
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Recent Reviews