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  • The Plagiarists

    The Plagiarists

    ★★★★

    "On one level, The Plagiarists arises from one of the simplest impulses for making a film: to create something that resembles, in recognizable fashion, the day-to-day details and mundane concerns of one’s friends and peers. That the details in this case are extremely specific (the anxiety of the independent filmmaker who doesn’t actually want to 'create content') is both part of the point and a cause for concern; the self-reflexive aspects don’t feel cutesy but self-interrogatory, as if the film…

  • The Hottest August

    The Hottest August

    ★★★½

    While I did write a bit about this as part of my True/False dispatch this year, if you're going to read something from me about this it's probably more productive to read my interview with Brett Story.

    I'm a little surprised how many people have taken objection to the film's looseness and lack of throughline. Of course, the line between "feature" and "bug" is extremely subjective, but I like watching a new film, made in an American independent context (I guess), that completely resists mandates for a clear narrative arc, legible anxieties with attendant impact campaigns, etc.

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  • Frances Ha

    Frances Ha

    ★★★★

    This is the kind of movie that causes strongly polarized reactions based on each viewer's capacity to tolerate/recognize/empathize with those on-screen. Some people just can't handle watching 20-/30-something white people undergo minor crises within a basically privileged framework, which is understandable. (That said, I'm not sure why someone with that mindset would ever go watch ANY NOAH BAUMBACH MOVIE and ask afterwards — as some guy did — " if it had any sort of larger social context… besides only…

  • Magic Mike XXL

    Magic Mike XXL

    ★★★★

    Magic Mike XXL is a putatively "modest"/"small" film — $14.8 million budget, 28-day shooting schedule, a shambling road movie meant to showcase extended musical numbers and largely excising the first film's recessionary panic. (Business is discussed, specifically the hustle of running a small business, but it's not the dominant throughline motivating everything as in the first, a line of inquiry Soderbergh pursued in Erin Brockovich, Bubble and The Girlfriend Experience, in ways that increasingly played like a meta-text about his…