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  • The Standoff at Sparrow Creek

    The Standoff at Sparrow Creek

    Every movie year brings several great discoveries. One of my personal favorites so far in 2019 has been James Badge Dale, a hardened character actor who's been around for years, but is breaking out in a big way with the starring role one of the year's best thrillers, and a nuanced supporting turn in one of the best indie dramas (Little Woods).

    "The Standoff at Sparrow Creek" is a taut, white-knuckle closed-room thriller centered around a sliver of society that…

  • Madeline's Madeline

    Madeline's Madeline

    A festival standout, this movie is not quite like anything you've ever seen. Teenaged Madeline finds solace in an experimental dance troupe, through which she begins to confront the anxieties that have hindered her adolescence. The film is an exhilarating exploration of art, mental illness, and authorship. Helena Howard, who plays the lead, will become a superstar. It's a miracle that a film this experimental, yet with the emotional weight of a mainstream movie, could even exist at all.

    Place Hold

    Stream on Kanopy

  • Burning


    Chang-dong Lee’s enigmatic thriller is not quite like anything you’ve seen. Based on a Haruki Murakami short story, "Burning" is many things. It’s a romantic triangle, a blistering examination of class structure, and a haunting psychological thriller. Jong-su is a failing writer and errand boy, who one day runs into Hae-mi, a girl he grew up with and largely ignored as a child. She has recently emerged as a great beauty following plastic surgery. He quickly falls for her, but…

  • Blindspotting


    Oakland had quite a year at the movies in 2018, with Black Panther, Sorry To Bother You, and this hilarious and emotionally wrenching film, which may be the best of the three. Colin and Miles grew up together in a neighborhood that is being rapidly gentrified, turning them into strangers in their own hometown. Colin is only days from getting off probation, but his friendship to the reckless and insecure Miles threatens his future. When he witnesses a police shooting,…

  • You Were Never Really Here

    You Were Never Really Here

    Joaquin Phoenix plays Joe in a nearly silent performance, but it is a massive one. Lynne Ramsey's film is a taut 89 minutes, and she uses every second to convey information about Joe and the world he inhabits. He is a man highly skilled in violence. He was born of it, and he's made his entire life by executing it for one master or another. And every day is an exercise in surviving the trauma of that existence. This is…

  • The Rider

    The Rider

    Chloe Zhao’s second feature tells the story of Brady Blackburn, a star of the rodeo circuit, who has recently suffered a traumatic brain injury. Faced with the prospect of permanent injury or death, Brady must decide whether he can leave behind the only life he’s known and carve out a new, uncertain future. Zhao based her movie on a true story, and even cast the real-life Brady and his family in the main roles. The result is a wholly unique film that heartbreakingly examines characters that rarely, if ever, find themselves on the silver screen.


  • Support the Girls

    Support the Girls

    Everybody should be so lucky as to have a boss like Lisa, who manages a Hooters-like restaurant called Double Whammies. Working customer service can be soul-sucking, especially in an environment that all but promotes the exploitation of its work force. But it is managers like Lisa that help to build a family among people who may be lacking just that, and make a demeaning job feel valued. "Support The Girls" follows Lisa as she frantically attempts to run a profitable…

  • Leave No Trace

    Leave No Trace

    "Winter’s Bone" director Debra Granik returns with a stunning film about a father and daughter dedicated to living off the grid in Portland’s Forest Park. Though it isn’t directly confronted in the film, Will suffers from extreme PTSD stemming from his service in Iraq, and seeks a manageable life with his daughter in seclusion. When they are discovered and forced to reintegrate into society, Will and his daughter must confront a future that may not hold a place for both…

  • Operation Finale

    Operation Finale

    "Operation Finale" is the kind of movie that Hollywood used to excel at making, but has become increasingly rare in the modern movie ecosystem. It's got a mid-range budget and boasts an exemplary cast, led by Ben Kingsley and Oscar Isaac. These days you're more likely to find this kind of story on television, puffed up to 8 hours and presented as a prestige drama short series. It benefits greatly from the compressed storytelling necessary in a movie. The movie…

  • The Tale

    The Tale

    Documentary filmmaker Jennifer Fox’s first narrative feature is one of the best movies of the year, and yet we’re hardly hearing a peep about it come awards season. HBO snatched it up at this year’s Sundance Film Festival in January, and it’s mostly been living in silence on their service. Thankfully, HBO still puts their content on DVD, so the library’s got you covered if you don’t subscribe.

    Based on Fox’s own experiences, “The Tale” follows middle-aged documentary filmmaker Jennifer…

  • Tales from the Hood 2

    Tales from the Hood 2

    HoopTober5.0 #33 of 31

    Click here to see our entire HoopTober list!

    Twenty-three years later and Rusty Cundieff finally gets to make a follow-up to his masterfully entertaining anthology film. Mr. Simms is back to dole out his demonic form of justice, this time embodied by the great Keith David, who does his best to match the late Clarence Williams III, who gave one of the great scene-chewing performances in the original.

    Mr. Simms spins his dreadful yarns to a…

  • Tales from the Hood

    Tales from the Hood

    HoopTober5.0 #32 of 31

    Click here to see our entire HoopTober list!

    Horror seems the perfect genre for an anthology film, yet “Creepshow” and “Dead of Night” (1945) are the only ones I can recall ever being particularly affected by. Now I can add “Tales From the Hood” to that list, because this movie provided me one of the most exhilarating experiences of this entire HoopTober challenge. This movie never stops being fun, even when it expertly drives home its…