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  • The Stuff

    The Stuff

    ★★★

    Fascinating to see a movie with the feeling of Cold War anxiety films where the source of fear is not communism but corporatism. Seems almost ahead of its time in that respect. Loses me, however, in its eventual suggestion that corporatism is a force so diametrically opposed to our military that the two end up in direct conflict. Very strange choice for a movie which otherwise seems to harbor a great deal of skepticism about American government. Even aside from that, though, this wasn't as engaging along the way as I had hoped. For a movie with such a wacky premise, this ends up oddly unremarkable.

  • The Birds

    The Birds

    ★★★½

    A masterpiece of style and technique, sometimes. As ever, Hitchcock constructs his coolly tense atmosphere from the basis of human anxiety, with the "monster" being a plot-driving externalization. Here, however, he fails to effectively blend the explicit threat of the birds with the psychological undertones, resulting in a film which feels bifurcated and incomplete, neither part fully realized. The hints are there—the judgement and rejection that our protagonist faces tenuously connected to the mysterious natural disaster with a few moments of Salem-esque accusation—but The Birds never quite achieves cohesion. Ultimately doesn't stand up to its imposing brethren.

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  • Point Break

    Point Break

    ★★★★½

    Maybe the manliest movie I've ever seen? But here masculinity is seen through a critical eye, painted as strange, tribal, and animalistic, with a heavy undercurrent of homoeroticism. Hauntingly beautiful and ethereal, Point Break lingers long after the credits roll.

  • Invaders from Mars

    Invaders from Mars

    ★★★½

    "Please God, let them find Mom and Dad before they do something awful."

    A silly piece of wartime propaganda which functions both by painting communism as sinister and dehumanizing (literally alien) and by affirming the US and its traditional value system. The fictional small-town archetype works nicely as a representation for how America liked to envision itself: everybody is childishly innocent, white, morally upright, Christian (how else would you be morally upright?)... Actually, there are a lot of things that…