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One A.M.

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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Latest Features

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

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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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Murder on the Orient Express (2017)
From Willem Dafoe approximating a German to Penelope Cruz approximating a maid to Judy Dench stretching no imaginations as a frowsy curd whose gaze would cure mustard, the train certainly carries cargo with the promise of becoming precious. But the cogs it winds up never outgrow their clock: the plot remands wit to the backstage of Branagh’s eyes and the
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Godzilla (2014)
The pay-off is stalled beyond normal human tolerance, as though Godzilla was a nervous groom who simply won’t commit to marriage until he has enough buildup. Even advertising the closeted meanings of such serious-contra-seriousness idioms native to the giant monster bash as nature vs man and the brutalities of war, the dialogue in “Godzilla” asserts itself to such meaning like
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Cloverfield
Cloverfield manages to encourage us to hold on to those we love and enjoy any day that isn’t the last day of our life. It manages to do so on the run, which it owes to a snappy script and Miller’s motor-mouth, his comedic tension, his well-meaning worry.
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Raiders of the Lost Ark
The exhilarating locomotion of Spielberg’s ode to the adolescence of American culture is matched only by its bravery in asserting uncomplicated characters as though they are the most romantic film has ever offered. They might be.
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La Belle et La Bête (2014)
Christophe Gans admirably refers to Jean Cocteau’s 1946 La Belle et La Bête while presenting a version of the fairytale that should read as authentic even to those who have only seen the Disney one. What he does not do is capture the original’s symbolic poetry or frame the old pieces in such a way that their retelling is a
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The Happening
I’ve seen great filmmakers make bad movies. But I’ve never seen them willingly create the antimatter to their own style. With only the earnest request of his audience to question and unravel everything they believe about their brittle capitalistic existence, Shyamalan instead has made a film that makes me question and unravel everything I believe about Shyamalan.
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Moonraker
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