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  • The Amityville Horror

    The Amityville Horror

    ★½

    I remember seeing this in a theater with my mom and a group of friends in 2005, and all of us were pumped. Not because we were seeing an R-rated horror movie in theaters as 14-year-olds (though we were most certainly excited for that) but because it was a movie shot partially in our hometown of Antioch, Illinois.

    There are only a few scenes that actually feature Antioch, but we practically cheered when we saw them. The first, about 45…

  • Watergate

    Watergate

    ★★½

    It’s damn-near impossible to take this story and make it totally uncompelling, but Ferguson exhaustively documents the whats while only somewhat touching on the whys, ultimately giving us a perspective-free Wikidoc that’s undistinguished beyond its 4-hour length and release in close proximity to another controversial president (who, mercifully, is never name-checked).

    The reenactments are truly dire, and the film is at its worst in the second hour, which is filled with back-to-back stretches of a permascowl-wearing Nixon reenactor who looks…

  • Piercing

    Piercing

    ★★★½

    Pesce takes another look at uncontrollable/enjoyed violent impulses arising from trauma. Still mulling over his choice not to delve into Jackie's psychology, but he's just as good at using precise framing/cuts for shock comedy as he is at using them for horror. Abbott and Wasikowska are both great. Most of the giallo music cues work but using the DEEP RED theme is a mistake.

  • A Star Is Born

    A Star Is Born

    ★★★★

    Sturdy as a melodrama, falls a little short of really articulating what it’s trying to say about music/art/industry by playing too broad and sidelining Gaga a bit in the second half...but it got me good all the same. Gaga’s spectacularly vulnerable, Cooper utterly tragic, getting the particulars of the pull/effects of addiction without making it feel like he’s just running a though a laundry list of behaviors. He’s internalized it all. I feel Cooper rushes things in the second half but the first hour is magic. Anyone get the feeling he studied MONTEREY POP for some of the concert scenes?

  • Birds of Passage

    Birds of Passage

    ★★★★

    Takes familiar drug trade/war story and places it in novel milieu, spiritual/cultural/anticapitalist context. Guerra/Gallego have an innate sense of how to use sky, darkness lyrically.

    Also: the scumbag kid whose actions spur the drug war has facial features/expressions that are very similar to those of my idiot alt-right relative. Just thought I’d throw that out there.

  • Rafiki

    Rafiki

    ★★★★

    The pinkest movie I’ve ever seen...positively glowing. Kenyan LGBT first love story that’s as buoyant as it is sweet, with a remarkably tactile sense of touch/feeling.

  • Srbenka

    Srbenka

    ★★★½

    Document of play about fraught Croatian-Serbian relationship/anti-Serb racism/violence portrays art as confrontational form of personal/national therapy. Took time to warm up to abstracted view of the work itself, but it won me over.

  • Transit

    Transit

    ★★★★½

    Looking for the right role to survive, and the one that makes a home, in the face of oblivion. As in PHOENIX, Petzold manages to mix rigorous exercise with melodrama without muffling the latter or cheapening the former. I loved it.

  • Alice T.

    Alice T.

    ★★★

    Muntean’s take on teen pregnancy is pretty familiar, more aimless/drawn out than TUESDAY, AFTER CHRISTMAS. That said, Andra Guti is pretty terrific in the lead, plays a real asshole of a kid and manages to make her sort of infectious when she isn’t infuriating.

  • Non-Fiction

    Non-Fiction

    ★★★

    Assayas adapted my Twitter feed. Sometimes feels too much like a tract, but does illuminate how people struggle with how others consume their work (artistic/political/etc.)

    NOTE: we were sent to the wrong screening room and missed the first 5 minutes or so.

  • Hereditary

    Hereditary

    ★★★

    Found this effective on a moment-to-moment basis and frustrating in retrospect. Aster comes up with some memorably freaky images/sounds, and his formal control is superb. The early dramatic scenes between Collette, Wolff and Byrne are also frequently gutting, thanks in no small part to the work by Collete and Wolff, with both managing open-wound performances of very different energies.

    But the horror and chamber drama aspects ultimately undermine each other, explaining away the grief in a way that makes it…

  • Madeline's Madeline

    Madeline's Madeline

    ★★★★½

    The thin line between art and exploitation, therapeutic expression and uncomfortable wound bearing. Part of my response to this is informed by my own background as an ex-performance major with some complicated feelings about my experiences/some of the things I saw (though I obviously can't speak to the racial implications of Madeline and Evangeline's dynamic, a major factor here). Needless to say, this gets at the heart of how a performer's pain can be co-opted by people they trust, who…