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The Man Who Laughs

The Man Who Laughs

Veidt becomes the face of Expressionism: this is dramatic self-harm on a scale that defines greatness.
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Latest Features

Snow White and #MeToo: Reclaiming a Classic

Snow White and #MeToo: Reclaiming a Classic

An alternative to the modern rejection of fairytales. Why true love never goes out of style.
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Enemy Explained

Enemy Explained

An analysis of Villeneuve's dreamy horror film. Not for the faint, the arachnophobic, or the easily confused.
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In Defense of Star Wars—The Phantom Menace

In Defense of Star Wars—The Phantom Menace

The Phantom Menace is unformed as a child’s drawing, and sometimes feels as innocent, and many times threatens through sheer force of will to be charming.
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Annihilation: Smart Movies Have it Rough

Annihilation: Smart Movies Have it Rough

Annihilation isn’t essentially different from those old B-movies with rubber monsters and blank-eyed scientist waifs and big, calculating ideas about teaching us something about the universe. It’s just the movie those movies hope to be when they grow up.
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Aliens: Diversity Done Right

Aliens: Diversity Done Right

Cinema's strongest action lady brings us the most charming gore-fest ever made.
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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): The Problem with Fake Feminism

Ghostbusters (2016): The Problem with Fake Feminism

Merely a below-average comedy that becomes a disreputable slog by whoring out its cast for a studio’s ill-conceived marketing angle.
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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

Dragonslayer
Here's a movie with the texture of the old fables. It finds the adventure in a stricken world. Delightful.
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Captain Marvel
The Marvel formula can't save an unappealing heroine from the greatest power in her universe: herself.
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Batman
Burton explores Gotham like a house inspector: he's all about details, and forgets the emotions you need to make them worth it.
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Snow White and #MeToo: Reclaiming a Classic
An alternative to the modern rejection of fairytales. Why true love never goes out of style.
Click to Read Full Article
Thor: Ragnarok
It's like a workout -- a lot of flexing and then a lot of fatigue. Good movies never have to try this hard.
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Alita: Battle Angel
A passionate lead performance can't save Alita from burying itself in exposition.
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His Girl Friday
The Grant/Russell pair could have made a hundred movies if this one didn't count as all of them.
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Enemy Explained
An analysis of Villeneuve's dreamy horror film. Not for the faint, the arachnophobic, or the easily confused.
Click to Read Full Article
In Defense of Star Wars—The Phantom Menace
The Phantom Menace is unformed as a child’s drawing, and sometimes feels as innocent, and many times threatens through sheer force of will to be charming.
Click to Read Full Article
Woman in the Dunes (Suna no Onna)
You meet Woman in the Dunes rather than watch it, and when you do, the result is a series of sensations that begin to represent yourself to you.
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Dr. Strangelove
By employing, perverting, and redirecting the rules of wartime filmmaking to primary targets of his own design, Kubrick creates an encompassing and indispensable work of satire, penetrating as Orwell, snide as Vonnegut, enigmatic as Heller.
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Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Close Encounters is about no less than human curiosity, our capacity to believe that aliens must represent the best in ourselves, and have the answers we’ve been looking for. Though it was sold on its intricate sets and handcrafted spaceships, it’s most reputable for Richard Dreyfuss, and Spielberg’s fathering of him.
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Daredevil
Be wary of superheroes that seem like they were invented as puns. You might end up with a passionate mess, with 85% Dutch angles, undeveloped characters, and a soundtrack like a prepubescent DJ’s iPod on shuffle. “Justice is blind,” proclaims Daredevil. So is Matt Murdock. So is Mark Steven Johnson.
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Duck Soup
The plot of Duck Soup doesn’t exist in any conventional sense. The fictional country of Freedonia appoints Groucho Marx their king but that isn’t the point. Duck Soup understands that plots exist not to make sense of the ensuing antics, but only to get Groucho into the center of attention for an hour.
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The Neon Demon
The Neon Demon shares a Grecian passion for allegory, telling a story of envy as a clash of idols in an uncertain realm. This film speaks through its eyes. It’s not really a movie with “characters.” It more resembles a statue gallery: Refn might be an over-imaginative child walking through it, making up the life and times of the stone
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Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
If Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was a tour of fantasy-land (who else thought their feelings seemed stuffed with baubles like gift-bags from a theme park?), The Chamber of Secrets is like accidentally wandering into the maintenance closet. Something is disenchanted by it, and I can think of no harsher criticism, to call something squinty that once was wide-eyed.
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The Bishop’s Wife
There isn’t a moment of romantic energy behind the interaction of Niven and Young in The Bishop’s Wife, and not one time that Cary Grant makes us happy to be on his side. Capra used to invite us to wonderful sleepy towns. Henry Koster takes us to one we'd rather sleep off.
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Bambi
Childhood games lead to survival necessity, friendships turn into the obligation to mate, life creeps towards death and life again. The world of Bambi is so passively hostile that sweet things seem like fleeting distractions in a nihilist’s fantasy trip. This could easily be a child’s first encounter with death.
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Recent Reviews