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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Gene Wilder is Willy Wonka. Depp’s oddball Michael Jackson impersonation never achieves the same eerie uncertainty, an odd discovery given that the new version seems to pride itself in replacing musical camp with veiled horror.
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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

Jack and Jill
This 2011 double-Sandler performance accentuates his impenetrable laziness, even more so that he performs twice and acts half as much. Those familiar with how much work his work has become for him, should know the drill: the crotch-shots, the desperate laughter, the screaming, the falling down, the farting, the falling down and farting, the marginalization humor and innocent sex ploys.
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Finding Nemo
Finding Nemo has a brilliant way of keeping this theme in the shallows of its action, always present but rarely addressed directly in the ecosystem of all its wonderful ocean stuff.
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Paddington 2
We’re too full of wonderment to make it back around to sarcasm, which is just cynicism in a more thoughtful form. Paddington 2 is like its main character. It doesn’t know how else to view the world but genuinely.
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Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
No one said Pirates movies were cinematically healthy, but up till now there have been defenders of each film at least regarding tastiness. Dead Men Tell No Tales is like Davy Jones in previous films: chained to the job he was hired to do despite having no heart.
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O Brother, Where Art Thou?
O Brother, Where Art Thou? isn’t an enduring testament to the road picture. It doesn’t enhance your memory of them. Quite oppositely, it’s the best of them, and no better than them.
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Catch Me If You Can
With the suspense of the chase blown, Spielberg sets up a dramatic con without the pretense that you’re wondering what will happen in a story adapted from a real and well-known memoir based on true events. He punks us with its trueness.
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Rio Bravo
In Hawks’ film, death threats roll off Wayne’s boy scout smile like rain off an imperious old duck; characters are named Feathers, Stumpy, Colorado and Dude. Rio Bravo doesn’t have the best upbringing, but nothing can stop it from being the best “hangout” in all the movies.
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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Harry possesses none of the fairytale virtues: no great strength or speed or cunning. When they were handing out panaceas, the poor kid must have been grounded. His destiny follows him, as other people make it. (“She knows more about you than you do,” Ron says.” Harry’s reply is from someone losing to his identity crisis: “Who doesn’t?”).
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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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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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Recent Reviews