Category: Reviews

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Never Rarely Sometimes Always

“Are you abortion minded?” This question is asked early in the film Never Rarely Sometimes Always by a middle-aged woman at a women’s clinic in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania. The question is being posed to a seventeen year-old named Autumn (SidneyRead Full Review

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The Watermelon Woman

An experimental filmmaker by trade, Cheryl Dunye’s feature debut, The Watermelon Woman, has very little interest in perpetuating mainstream filmmaking sensibilities. Her fusion of documentary and narrative, as well as her inclusion of metafictional aspects should alienateRead Full Review

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Eight Hours Don’t Make a Day

In about thirteen years, Rainer Werner Fassbinder directed over forty feature films before dying of a drug overdose at the age of thirty-seven. This doesn’t include his ambitious television projects which includes that gargantuan Berlin Alexanderplatz,Read Full Review

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Da 5 Bloods

Watching Spike Lee’s movies, you can see that he views film history as a legitimate form of American history. Consider the way BlacKKKlansman opens with segments from Gone With The Wind, extolling the power of cinema while alsoRead Full Review

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The Lovebirds

A common refrain you may find yourself saying while watching The Lovebirds is “Why isn’t this funnier?”. You won’t ask this maliciously, after all, you have a lot of goodwill towards its two stars, Issa RaeRead Full Review

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The French Lieutenant’s Woman

The legend of Streep having grown to such gargantuan proportions, she’s come to represent a very mainstream version of excellence. People think of her as an actress the way people think of Steven Spielberg asRead Full Review

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Taste of Cherry

The words “In the name of God” open the film Taste of Cherry. It’s a modest but forceful title card that appears before we see any action. Not that there is a lot of action in theRead Full Review

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Meantime

The human tensions in Mike Leighs films far outweigh the political ones, though that doesn’t mean that there is one without the other. His characters are so often wrecked by implacable restlessness, worn out by theRead Full Review

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Only Angels Have Wings

Masculinity and moral codes abound in the filmography of legendary director Howard Hawks, and Only Angels Have Wings has tied both tightly within the film’s plot, influencing and often encouraging the characters. The script, by veteran JulesRead Full Review

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To Be or Not To Be

Considering the polarizing response to Jojo Rabbit less than a year ago, you’d probably think that To Be or Not to Be would be perhaps a bridge to far for audiences sensitive to dark comedy involving NazisRead Full Review

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The Music Room

One of the many joys to be found in the films of Satyajit Ray is his ability to delve into the humanity of his characters without judgment. His style is clear and aspires toward objectivity,Read Full Review

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Bad Education

Bad Education premiered on HBO Sunday night, 4/26/20. It is now available on HBOGo and HBONow. There was controversy when HBO snatched up Bad Education in the bidding war that followed its successful premiere at lastRead Full Review

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Battleship Potemkin

Sergei Eisenstein’s association with evolution in film editing is well-chronicled. He and his Soviet peers established the foundations of “montage” as a technique to rouse emotion within the audience, and Battleship Potemkin is often sighted as Eisenstein’sRead Full Review

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Lady Macbeth

In a short amount of time, Florence Pugh has shown herself to be a multifaceted talent as an actress. In half a decade, she’s shown an incredible range from her Oscar-nominated Amy March in Little Women,Read Full Review

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Eyes of Laura Mars

Camp has always been difficult to tie down. Even minds as renowned as Susan Sontag have had their studious definitions called into question by those who prefer to use the eye test – “You knowRead Full Review

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Daughters of the Dust

It may seem strange today – it certainly surprised me – to learn that Daughters of the Dust was, in 1991, the first feature film ever directed by a black woman to receive a theatrical releaseRead Full Review

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Shampoo

“I’m never serious about anything.” – Warren Beatty as George Roundy in Shampoo Set on the day of the 1968 Presidential Election, Shampoo gives itself the benefit of hindsight. Released in 1975, the film’s characters traverse acrossRead Full Review

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Tremors

The ascension of a midnight movie comes from hitting that sweet spot between bubbling self-awareness and dismissive carelessness. People will make themselves blue arguing as to whether camp can be self-aware, or to what level it shouldRead Full Review

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Daisies

A trademark of European cinema from the 40’s through the 60’s is its expansion of cinematic forms, but even the word ‘expansion’ often feels limiting. Through expansion, filmmakers in countries like Italy and (most famously)Read Full Review

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Bacurau

Bacurau is currently streaming on Kino Now as part of their Kino Marquee Virtual Arthouse Program, which allows you to pay a rental fee which goes toward an independent movie house of your choice. IRead Full Review

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The Draughtsman’s Contract

1982’s The Draughtsman’s Contract would kick off a fruitful decade for director Peter Greenaway. The muralist turned director, renowned for his strict formalist style and provocative themes, would be among the 80’s most celebrated and most polarizingRead Full Review

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The Way Back

I don’t necessarily believe that Ben Affleck is an underrated actor. To the degree that his judgment can be questioned when accepting roles like the ones he chose in films like Gigli or Paycheck, I’m not sureRead Full Review

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Emma

The wits of Jane Austen have graced the movie screen so often, you’d imagine the works have perhaps gone stale. After all, her body of work is not vast as say Shakespeare or Stephen King,Read Full Review

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The Traitor

There’s a degree to which The Traitor understands how the movies have a large responsibility toward the connection people make between Italians and organized crime. In telling the true to story of Tomasso Buscetta (played wonderfullyRead Full Review

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The Assistant

Labelling Kitty Green’s The Assistant as a ‘#MeToo Movie’ suggests that her latest film is somehow attached to a trend as opposed to a glaring document of longstanding tradition. The film takes place in a ManhattanRead Full Review

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1917

World War I – humanity’s greatest foible, a complete failure of dignity and reason, a brutal testament to the fatal power of ego and pride – is often judged too complicated for the movies to tackle.Read Full Review

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Just Mercy

I will hear criticisms of Just Mercy. Those who will say that its adherence to a traditional story arc meant to highlight a typical hero’s journey cheapens the substance of its subject matter. That its legal proceduralRead Full Review

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Bombshell

If nothing else, Bombshell is a feat of movie make-up. The amount of work in transforming this cast into a selection of contemporary media figures feels quite impressive. The film’s performances, led by Charlize Theron, areRead Full Review

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Frozen II

The fervor with which 2013’s Frozen caught fire (froze over? I’m sorry) can be attributed to its songs and proves that there is a much bigger audience for musicals than people think. I’m not sure whyRead Full Review

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Clemency

Dramas about capital punishment should not be easy to sit through, but even in this regard, Chinonye Chukwu’s Clemency stands out. This slow burn feature focuses, with great patience and clarity, on the rippling nature andRead Full Review

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Little Women

There’s a reason Louisa May Alcott’s beloved novel, Little Women, is so often adapted. Its portrait of an American family rings true today, even as its story takes place over a century and a half ago. GeorgeRead Full Review

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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

**My wife – a noted Star Wars fan – has told me that I should include a SPOILERS warning at the beginning. So here is that. Proceed with caution.** It’s apparent that Rian Johnson wasRead Full Review

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The Two Popes

The Two Popes finds a lot of humor within the humanity of its title characters, who despite their papal designations, are still left to deal with life’s small humiliations, such as ordering plane tickets over theRead Full Review

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A Hidden Life

A Hidden Life is the sixth film from rarified filmmaker Terrence Malick this decade. He had made only four total in the four previous decades. This burst of prolific activity has had its ups andRead Full Review

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Uncut Gems

The Safdie brothers universe is somewhere in between the gritty verité of 70’s William Friedkin and the neon pastiche of 80’s Michael Mann, and yet their films always escape feeling derivative. Their singular vision isRead Full Review

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Portrait of a Lady on Fire

There are few characters in Portrait of a Lady on Fire, and scant dialogue. Feelings are expressed through glances and averted eyes, passion is displayed through slight, nearly imperceptible acts – the touch of a hand,Read Full Review

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Knives Out

The main detective in Knives Out – Rian Johnson’s masterful whodunit murder mystery – is man named Benoit Blanc. Blanc speaks in a hilariously affected Southern American drawl (at separate points he’s referred to as ColonelRead Full Review

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Queen & Slim

The two characters at the heart of Queen & Slim don’t really like each other in the beginning. They’re on a Tinder date and they’re eating in a run-of-the-mill Cleveland diner. He orders breakfast (his eggsRead Full Review

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Dark Waters

Dark Waters, on the surface, may seem like a departure for director Todd Haynes, whose films more often cover transgressive subject matter with striking, conceptual filmmaking. His latest is a legal thriller, a ripped-from-the-headlines story aboutRead Full Review

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A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

The casting of Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers seems a bit like a stunt, a stacking of one famously decent person atop another. The announcement of Hanks’ casting in Marielle Heller’s A Beautiful Day in theRead Full Review

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Varda by Agnès

Inspiration. Creation. Sharing. These are the three things that legendary filmmaker Agnès Varda cites as most important in her creative career. Varda passed away in March of this year, two months before her 91st birthday. VardaRead Full Review

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Ford v Ferrari

Despite its title, Ford v Ferrari is less a tale about a storied Twentieth Century battle between two titanic auto manufacturers – it is partially about that – but more a showdown between strident male egos, allRead Full Review

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Waves

Throughout the three feature films by Trey Edward Shults, families face tragedy and trauma, in both past and present tense. They seek survival, and sometimes they find it. Sometimes, uncovered truths only bring further pain,Read Full Review

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Marriage Story

Marriage Story is the most violent movie that I’ve seen this year. Its characters are measured, intelligent, nice people turned ruthless by the anxiety of a divorce lawsuit. This is the latest release from NoahRead Full Review

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Harriet

Is there a more courageous story in American history than Harriet Tubman’s? You’d be hard pressed to find one. Her struggle and sacrifice speak to the best and worst of this country’s history, and yet,Read Full Review

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The Irishman

I admire the fact that there isn’t any version of “Based on Real Events” in or around Martin Scorsese’s latest feature, The Irishman. The robust new film is filled with the recollections of a man namedRead Full Review

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Jojo Rabbit

Nazi comedies are a bit of a third rail as far as mainstream comedies are concerned. To the extent that a few of them have been successful (The Great Dictator, The Producers, to a certain degree Inglourious Basterds),Read Full Review

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Pain & Glory

It’s tradition for storied filmmakers to look back later in life, and craft something “autobiographical”, though Pedro Almodóvar has seldom been described as traditional. Pain & Glory catches the Spanish filmmaker at his most reflective, following anRead Full Review

parasite-movie

Parasite

The satire at the heart of Parasite is not a difficult one to parse. Its ideas are shouted pretty clearly, even bluntly. In a way, the film is almost about the limits of satire, its inabilityRead Full Review