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  • Back to School

    Back to School

    ★★★★

    More clever than I was expecting, lots of little insights about how things work on paper vs how they work in the real world. Rodney Dangerfield gives his personal best performance ever from what I've seen, his unique comedic vibe is delivered with effortless mastery and fits perfectly here, feeling fresh and creating a vibrant, dynamic character. Every one-liner comes off as if it was completely natural, and the film is filled to the brim with them, some of which are quite tricky to make amusing at all. He deserved to win Best Actor of 1986 for this.

  • El Norte

    El Norte

    ★★★★½

    An intimate epic, deeply sensitive and truthful. It's a film where the rough edges add realism and personify the feeling of the story itself, while being well enough made to transcend the simplicity of the production values. The difficulties of being an immigrant, being an outsider, and having no home, are conveyed with both grace and terror. The sequence where they have to climb through the pipe is more riveting and impactful than most horror or action films. Also, how heartbreaking is it when even the people claiming to help you, are just trying to rob you.

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  • The Revenant

    The Revenant

    ★★★★

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    Having seen this twice now, I continue to be both haunted and disappointed by it. The Revenant is such an elemental work, one of the most staggering depictions of raw nature and human condition ever put on film, in the context of the dirt and grit and cold of the time period as experienced by these people in their taiga locale.

    We know Emmanuel Lubezki is an all-time great cinematographer, and he conjures yet another memorable and impossibly difficult tableau…

  • Vice

    Vice

    ★★★½

    Writing this review has been approached with dread, because The Big Short is the best film of 2015, so obviously I was hoping for something that would be great, even if not another towering masterpiece. I've seen VICE twice in the past couple weeks, and while I was immediately let down on first viewing, the response around me was rapturous. A second viewing confirmed my opinion - this is a wildly ambitious and entertaining enough work, and holds a certain…