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  • The Alchemist Cookbook

    The Alchemist Cookbook

    ★★★★

    Joel Potrykus demonstrates a knack for alchemy by producing gold from a tonal soup in The Alchemist Cookbook. The film dabbles in horror, slow cinema, drama, comedy, thriller, and slice of life, all in the effort of forging its own path. Potrykus’s choice to platform a black actor for the role of a rural horror movie subject struggling with mental illness, too, further troubles any critic’s attempts to pin it down to a series of rote mechanics for a mad-libs…

  • Stranger Than Paradise

    Stranger Than Paradise

    ★★★★½

    Jarmusch’s understated style thrives in Stranger than Paradise. The thin plot beautifully strikes at familial disconnect and societal estrangement. The shot composition frets overwrought with long takes that transition in a heavy breath’s fade out. The choice to film in black and white accents the period piece aesthetic, an element of the meticulous choreography of proper stage-dressing and costume design. The frontmen don fedoras and leather jackets over sweaters. The men play cards (solitaire or poker) with voiceless ferocity, lifting…

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  • Midsommar

    Midsommar

    ½

    As pretty as it is, don’t let the visuals of Midsommar distract from single beat characters that walk around under the sun for an hour and a half desperate for plot with a disjointed dropping of such riveting side-plots as “hey, dude, that’s my thesis”. 

    Ari really wants to hotshot himself into some sort of art-horror canon, but he stumbles over the low-rent comedy of exploitation and tasteless vengeance against stale caricatures. Not to mention the fright-making out of the…

  • Punch-Drunk Love

    Punch-Drunk Love

    ★★★★★

    I just watched Punch-Drunk Love again for the first time in 6 or 7 years. I remember appreciating the film back then for its ability to cleverly toy with the expectations of the Adam Sandler movie formula. After my second viewing, I can’t help but wonder how I missed how beautifully it depicts mental struggle and the overwhelming potential unfurled when you discover a partner who loves you in the face of confused, anguished self-expression-based outbursts. 

    I feel so tuned…