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  • How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

    How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

    ★★★

    [...] The most notable issue with The Hidden World is its story, which is oversimplified and skittishly paced. The first act is something of a plot-dump that takes the form of most of the meat here, and while there are plenty of characters, they don't serve the purpose they once did. You know Hiccup's love interest Astrid (America Ferrera), whose tenacity makes her the strongest character on paper? She doesn't get much to do here. Remember Valka (Cate Blanchett), who…

  • Happy Death Day 2U

    Happy Death Day 2U

    ★★★

    Happy Death Day was a movie that, by its end, threw the audience a bone. Former sorority girl Tree (Jessica Rothe) and her new boyfriend Carter (Israel Broussard) had successfully evaded a masked killer and an unexplained time loop, and as the two sat outside a coffee shop, he said to her, "You what this reminds me of? The movie Groundhog Day." It wasn't a particularly literate gag to end the movie on and, combined with how lacking in self-awareness…

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  • Eighth Grade

    Eighth Grade

    ★★★★★

    What a hellish time early adolescence is. When I say hellish, I mean that in the most transcendent, stinging way possible: it's a dumpster fire; a cacophony of groans; an implosion of externalized insecurities. They say that burning alive is the most painful way of dying, so why does no one award 13-year-olds for surviving such a sensation for nine whole months? I'm sure that I'm still reeling from it, and seeing such a respectful yet truthful examination of the…

  • Assassination Nation

    Assassination Nation

    ★★★★½

    [... T]here's something very knowing about Assassination Nation, and while Salem may seem divorced from the rest of the world, the film is deceitfully literate in both concept and execution. This literacy extends itself to how the characters interact with the confines of the film itself, and the picture ends up being incredibly of its time.

    This is a '70s Japanese girl gang film placed into modern America, meshing verbal gymnastics à la Heathers and Jennifer's Body with a post-Spring…