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  • Fearless

    Fearless

    ★★

    I was kinda excited to see Netflix was premiering an animated action movie featuring a predominately Black cast, and focused around a Black superhero. Then I watched it and realized it was yet another cheapie good-enough effort from Canada's Vanguard Films, home of some of the most desultory Pixar knockoffs I've ever seen. Whoops. Full review for Polygon here.

  • Ride Your Wave

    Ride Your Wave

    ★★★½

    I didn't realize until I was writing my review how much I wanted an anime fantasy featuring adult characters facing adult problems, and how rare and fresh and thrilling that seems. Again, Masaaki Yuasa starts with familiar tropes, throws in a lot of left-field surprises, and builds up to a really visually startling and fantastic ending.

  • Lu Over the Wall

    Lu Over the Wall

    ★★★★

    This film is a LOT. It's more or less Masaaki Yuasa's Ponyo, with a young shape-changing mermaid falling for a young man in a seaside village, and her weird inhuman father getting involved, and the sea going wild. It keeps veering back into familiar territory. And then it veers off into its own world again, with wild musical sequences, and a bittersweet look at how small-town people steel themselves up to leave and make something of themselves and sometimes fail,…

  • An American Pickle

    An American Pickle

    ★★★

    Very, very broad and pretty simple, but in an era where pretty much everything even pretending to be sincere and supportive makes me emotional, this has a warm quality to it that I was pretty well into. I mean, it's kind of scripted Borat meets The Double with a little bit of The Visitor on top, but as soon as we headed into the section of the movie about Twitter and Kanye West, I was pretty well down with the satire.

  • She Dies Tomorrow

    She Dies Tomorrow

    ★★★½

    A swoony experiment in putting the feeling of anxiety onscreen, She Dies Tomorrow is being sold as something of a horror film, and it does feel like one, in the vein of It Follows , where death by inexplicable supernatural force is transmissible. It's unsettling to watch, thanks to a really eerie repeated soundtrack cue (thanks, a lot, Mozart), deliberately jangly editing that rarely gives the audience closure on a scene or a thought, and some intense acting from women…

  • Well Groomed

    Well Groomed

    ★★★½

    Full review here for Polygon, but in a nutshell, this film about "creative dog grooming" (meaning grooming by people who compete in the "Creative" category at dog shows) is a nonstop barrage of amazing images and colors. Not all that challenging or informative, but wholesome and full of sequences where well-loved dogs play with their owners.

    There's been some weird blowback against the hobby because it's "unnatural" and "it embarrasses/humiliates the dog" and "dogs can't consent to this" and it's…

  • The Legend of Hei

    The Legend of Hei

    ★★★★

    Very cool animated film that starts off small and adorable, then expands into an epic conflict on an Akira scale. I hope GKIDS or Netflix or someone else with reach picks this up for the American market, its fantasy worldbuilding is impressive and interesting. Gotta dive into the webtoons that spawned it now.

  • Archive

    Archive

    ★★★

    A quarter of the way into this indie science-fiction movie, I thought I was seeing the new Moon. Halfway through, I thought I was seeing the new Ex Machina. Three-fourths of the way in, I thought I was seeing something wild and original. Then the end hit, and I was so frustrated at the loss of all that potential. The upside: this film is gorgeous, and really well directed and designed. The downside: that ending though. Full review for Polygon here.

  • Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

    Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

    ★★★½

    Amiable enough comedy with a deliriously terrific performance from Dan Stevens and a lot of big, hilariously straight-faced parodic Eurovision-style music numbers, plus one big Baz Luhrmann-style swirly hard-charging musical mashup and cameo-fest.

    But here's where I part company with the comedy world: I don't think Will Ferrell adds a damn thing to this movie, at least onscreen. As a producer and screenwriter, he obviously had a lot to contribute. But bear with me. What if he hadn't centered this…

  • The Sweatbox

    The Sweatbox

    ★★★½

    While Sting was working on the soundtrack for Disney's The Emperor's New Groove, his wife was making a behind-the-scenes documentary about the film's development and his working methods. Then Disney execs utterly rejected the film after multiple years of work, the team had to go back to the drawing board, Sting's songs were mostly pulled from the radically rewritten script, and he was asked to create MORE songs for a movie that had moved away from everything that interested him…

  • Kronk's New Groove

    Kronk's New Groove

    ★★½

    I'll give them this: they got the original voices back, the characters are consistent, and they didn't invent a sister or cousin or something for Yzma to be the villain, so this is already a couple of notches above most Disney direct-to-DVD sequels. But past the strong opening, this gets pretty baggy, and it's mostly fun for Patrick Warburton, being as thick-voiced and pleasant and doofy as ever.

  • Woodstock

    Woodstock

    ★★★★★

    As curious as I've been about this movie and its place in the culture, I was kind of dreading its four-hour runtime. I've never been that into concert films in general, either. But my husband loves this movie and wanted me to watch it with him, so I gritted my teeth and agreed. And it just mesmerized me. The time went by like nothing. The musical performances are electric, the sense of history is stunning, the access is fantastic, and…