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  • Dumbo

    Dumbo

    ★★½

    An anti-corporate fable produced by a massive conglomerate that’s monopolizing the film industry while pawning chintzy reproductions of the precious jewels from its own vault, “Dumbo” isn’t exactly Disney’s finest hour. And yet, it’s almost certain to be the most creatively inspired of the “live-action remakes” the studio is releasing this year. For one thing, Ehren Kruger’s otherwise unremarkable script begins where the 1941 original ends, and dares — in its own tepid way — to add a human element…

  • Shazam!

    Shazam!

    ★★★★

    From “Watchmen” to “The Incredibles” and most of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there have been any number of movies set in a world where the general public knows about the existence of superheroes. The common folk in these films refer to such enhanced (and sartorially flamboyant) individuals as “mutants” or “paranormals” or “Avengers,” but the terminology doesn’t really matter because the basic dynamic is always the same: Regardless of whether they’re thought to be threats, saviors, or something in between,…

  • The Dirt

    The Dirt

    ★½

    As Andy Warhol famously never said: “In the future, every arena-sized music act of the 20th century will get its own ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ for 115 minutes.” The truth of those apocryphal words was obvious even before the execrable Queen biopic grossed almost a billion dollars; the age of infinite content doesn’t offer enough bandwidth for actual creation, so most of our pop culture has to be exhumed from the past (a phenomenon made literal by the sustained explosion of true…

  • Depraved

    Depraved

    ★★★

    Hell-bent upon finding evidence of ancient monsters in the modern world (often by exploring how they continue to be reflected in the raw stuff of human nature), Larry Fessenden launched his filmmaking career with a Frankenstein story, and he’s been working his way back to the subject ever since. Traces of Mary Shelley’s mad science can be found in many of the low-budget horror movies that his Glass Eye Pix has produced since 1985, and they’re even more apparent in…

  • Us

    Us

    ★★★★

    US is an audacious & clever trip through the looking glass that asks how Americans are going to live with ourselves after being reminded of who we really are. a lot funnier than it is frightening — a horror movie for a world in which real life is scary enough on its own. Lupitas! that score!

    definitely some bumps in the road, but i was sold on its big ideas. anything more will have to wait.

    EDIT: bumping this up to ****. the more i read about it / sit with it, the more i like it. seems to be a pattern with Peele's movies.

  • It Started As a Joke

    It Started As a Joke

    ★★½

    Eugene Mirman — a fixture of the comedy world, but known to general audiences as the voice of Gene Belcher on “Bob’s Burgers” — has always had a very particular vision of what comedy can be. A warm and whimsical sort whose jokes (and prop-heavy stand-up) tend to poke fun at the insistent seriousness of being alive, Mirman is the kind of guy who can find humor in just about anything.

    In anything, that is, except for stuffy comedy festivals…

  • The Juniper Tree

    The Juniper Tree

    ★★★½

    A film that’s every bit as lyrical and fraught as the T.S. Eliot poem it uses for a preface, Nietzchka Keene’s little-seen “The Juniper Tree” — shot in the summer of 1986, only to premiere at Sundance four years later after a series of financial woes — has long been thought of as the other Björk movie, the one she made before her feral, totemic, Falconetti-level performance in “Dancer in the Dark.” The one Björk made before she was even…

  • Five Feet Apart

    Five Feet Apart

    ★★★

    It’s almost irrelevant that Justin Baldoni’s “Five Feet Apart” is atypically urgent for a YA-flavored romantic drama about the impossible love between two star-crossed teenagers. Or that Haley Lu Richardson manages to pump some blood into even the most contrived moments of Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis’ script, reaffirming the “Columbus” and “Support the Girls” actress as a generational talent on the rise. It doesn’t really matter that the movie uses emotionally pornographic M83 songs and The Postal Service covers…

  • Wonder Park

    Wonder Park

    The most notable thing about Paramount’s “Wonder Park” — a sugar-addled “My Neighbor Totoro” ripoff with a beautiful message and a hideous everything else — is that the movie seems to have been made without a director. That’s not an insult, it’s a fact: Behold what might be the only IMDb page where the writers get top billing.

    Perhaps that’s a damning indictment of a production that never found its way. More likely, it’s an honest reflection of how most…

  • Everybody's Everything

    Everybody's Everything

    ★★★

    The rapper Lil Peep tweeted 15 times on the day he died. At 1:14am: “Nightmares to u is my life to me.” That was followed by a handful of links to music he liked or wanted to self-promote, a fan retweet of some performance footage, and an emoji-filled reference to his stage name, which the 21-year-old’s loving mom had coined when he was a child. Finally, at 5:01pm, he shared a shoutout to his “biggest fan” Nick Bons, an incarcerated…

  • Pink Wall

    Pink Wall

    ★★★

    The tragedy of Tom Cullen’s “Pink Wall” — a familiar but deeply felt achronological relationship drama in the vein of “Blue Valentine” and François Ozon’s “5 x 2” — is that neither of its central characters know they’re in a movie. The soft lighting, shifting aspect-ratios, and synth-driven music should have been a dead giveaway, but it’s easy to develop a kind of tunnel-vision when you’re in love. If only Jenna (Tatiana Maslany) or Leon (Jay Duplass) had been able…

  • Adopt a Highway

    Adopt a Highway

    ★★½

    Don’t be nervous about the Blumhouse Productions logo at the beginning of the film: “Adopt a Highway,” in which a newly released and totally rootless ex-con played by Ethan Hawke discovers a baby girl in a dumpster, doesn’t follow whatever path you might expect (or fear) that company to take with this premise. Hawke doesn’t harbor any “Sinister” intentions, nor is the baby possessed by demons — only colic. In fact, this sweet and simple little movie couldn’t be any…