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  • Booksmart

    Booksmart

    ★★★★½

    Superbad-ETTE? Superbad-DER? No, Superbad-DEST. Period. Apatow boys, stand back, because the future—of funny, anyway—is most definitely female. Booksmart will most certainly be one of the defining comedy films of the Gen-Z generation and even more certainly hard to top. I felt collective cultural bedrock quake and shift beneath my feet as its last slacker self-loathing Gen-X residue was swallowed whole by the crack in the earth this movie makes. Olivia Wilde and co., I tip my hat to all of…

  • Us

    Us

    ★★½

    I’m neither a horror fan nor aficionado of the genre so there’s already a slight built-in resistance to a film like Us. Yet, I’m also very reverent of classics like Rosemary’s Baby, Alien, Jaws, John Carpenter’s remake of The Thing and, yes, even Jordan Peele’s previous film, Get Out. My main beef with much of the horror film discussion is the “metaphor crutch“—that the supposed subtext embedded in an often otherwise pedestrian work somehow elevates it despite the shortcomings of…

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  • Shoplifters

    Shoplifters

    ★★★★★

    Maybe the best film of the year. (So far, anyway.)

    Director Hirokazu Koreeda’s real accomplishment here is his alchemic mix of the sentimental and the steely. Shoplifters never shies away from depicting the precariousness of living on the fringes of society. This is a Tokyo we rarely see in film and shoplifting is only one of many questionable survival tactics used by the characters here.

    But the film is also a wonderfully shaded portrait of a family that both affirms…

  • The Happy Film

    The Happy Film

    ★★★

    Kudos to Stefan Sagmeister for 1) his endless creativity as a designer, evidenced over and over in this film; 2) making a well-crafted, daring documentary; and 3) making a well-crafted, daring documentary that too often made we want to throw whatever was in my hand at the screen in frustration.

    Full disclosure: I find this contemporary craze around finding happiness to usually be nothing more than narcissistic exercises in navel-gazing self-care. The Happy Film is no exception. I kept screaming…