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  • Take Off

    Take Off

    ★★★

    the drama of the rescue itself is efficiently rendered, and the tension ably sustained, but it wouldn't work nearly as well if not for what comes before it, the upheaval of relationships and family, of economic strife -- the latter almost jarringly referenced at a particularly frantic moment in the second half -- the desperation of hope (the scene with the missing certificate is such a quietly inspired way to open). kunchacho boban is an immensely likable presence, but this is buttressed above all by a performance for the ages by parvathy. what a fierce talent she is.

  • Iyer the Great

    Iyer the Great

    ★★★

    between the lurid lights and colors, strong affinity for unearthly imagery -- burning clocks, handless clocks, wiggly lizards, creepy dolls and toys (there's one with a toy man rowing a toy boat with toy oars currently wedged in my mind) -- and a surprisingly coherent genre mishmash of comedy, family drama, science fiction fantasy and a talking parrot, iyer the great shapes up as one of the singular malayalam thriller/dramas of its time. does lose something vital around the halfway…

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  • Andhadhun

    Andhadhun

    ★★★★

    the terrifying hilarity of a camera casually panning to a masked person waiting as their potential next victim makes them coffee, a blind man as unreliable as he is hapless, with as many secrets beneath his bunny head walking stick as there are behind his sunglasses, a hand (with a ring!) sticking out of a suitcase, a murder set to beethoven's fifth, all of these pieces and more put together with breathless invention -- to the point where the film's…

  • Kaala

    Kaala

    ★★★★½

    a living, breathing record of an urban milieu -- reconstructed with the vibrancy of color, music and rebellion -- shots of alleys, domestic interiors and every sound bringing forth the multiplicities of voices, perspectives and personalities of its dalit community.

    at the center of it is, of course, rajni, a screen presence and symbol imposing enough to potentially define/devour/debilitate everything around him. somewhat startlingly (at least for someone yet to watch kabali), kaala begins and sustains a tense dialogue between…