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  • My Brother's Wedding

    My Brother's Wedding

    ★★★★

    Constantly and relentlessly, Charles Burnett is left out of conversations about the most important directors. With his canonical films somewhat spread throughout the decades, long gaps, and constant studio and distribution struggles, it's been far too easy for people to minimize the importance of black cinema down to one or two figures or just remain ignorant to his existence.

    I watched the Director's Cut, which is not something we generally imagine being half an hour shorter. But with a cast…

  • First Cow

    First Cow

    ★★★★★

    First Cow wound up being both literally the film I was anticipating most this year and the one I didn't know how much I needed to see. It's one of the most tender and kind films I've ever seen, and the latest of many to make me wonder if in fact Kelly Reichardt is our best and most important director.

    An initially plotless mood film that surprises you with a welcome plotty late turn that elevates the movie's function, First…

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  • Ugetsu

    Ugetsu

    ★★★★½

    This is a cool morality fable about male delusion and condescension, complete with some real hall of fame cinematography from Kazuo Miyagawa (who shot Rashomon, which sees its stars reunited here). One of the most frequently mentioned movies by directors (and Roger Ebert) as a favourite, Ugetsu is a gift that keeps on giving when it comes to unique scenarios, each practically a discussion question of ethical or civic complexity.

    Kenji Mizoguchi is one of the ten or so canonical…

  • Bring It On

    Bring It On

    ★★★★

    The zingers and awkward stilted dialogue style are already enough for this to be worthwhile. But even that is overshadowed by the racial politics, which are “so ‘90s” mainly just in lack of subtley, because they never stop finding new ways to be topical. Rooting against the protagonists comes so so so easy via the magic tricks in this and it did in 2000 too.

    For a sprawling cast high school movie it’s a wonder that everyone gets something to…

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  • Where'd You Go, Bernadette

    Where'd You Go, Bernadette

    ★★★★

    This might be a movie only Richard Linklater could make into something very good. In the wrong hands, even from someone promising, the unconventional and meandering idea could turn into a mumblecore shrug with a third act out of left field.

    That makes the marketing and title and framing device useful, because the late turn and mounting dread are secret weapons to an ending that works bizarrely well. With Laurence Fishburne and a whole lot of Billy Crudup as ringers,…

  • Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

    Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

    ½

    When you bring nothing to the table of an ongoing story, you don't have stakes. When you have neither of those, you are too artless to even assess. This is more focus group than movie. It's a MacGuffin-stuffed, bloated, boring, repetitive, record-level unfunny, horribly edited, barely legible snooze and disaster--the worst thing in this bumpy, bumpy franchise, while also feeling like a movie so corporate it's killing something.

    The problem with this movie is it keeps getting in its own…