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  • Where'd You Go, Bernadette

    Where'd You Go, Bernadette

    ★★★½

    The disappearance referenced in the film's title doesn't occur until more than an hour in, which would be frustrating if this were directed by anyone other than Linklater. From what I gather, the book mostly focuses on the post-departure journey of self-exploration (told through Bernadette's family's search) which is relegated almost entirely to the third act of this adaptation. In theory, delaying the narrative thrust would make less dramatic sense, because that's where most of the emotional weight lies, but…

  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

    Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

    ★★★½

    For a film with a murderous cult looming in the corners, this is surprisingly Tarantino's most pleasant film. It's also simultaneously his loosest and most restrained. There aren't any grandiose, operatic monologues or virtuosic sequences; everything is remarkably grounded and scenes get more than enough room to breathe. Many will probably be disappointed by the lack of momentum, tension, narrative complexity, or sharp structure and pacing, but as someone who prefers Tarantino's extensive meandering and delaying the impending violence until…

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  • Network

    Network

    ★★★½

    The satire gets laid on thick in the second half and the film lacks the comedy or self-awareness* to nail a perfect tonal balance in its more over-the-top moments. It's also too unfocused/uneven to be the all-encompassing portrait of cynicism in show business it's aiming for; some plots are clearly more engaging than others. Still, it's rarely anything but compelling and more significant now than ever.


    *the right kind of self-awareness at least, since the self-referential "see this is the part in the 2nd act where..." lines completely took me out of it. This just never ever works for me.

  • The Philadelphia Story

    The Philadelphia Story

    ★★★½

    Grant and Stewart each have a film in my top 20 of all time (His Girl Friday and Anatomy of a Murder respectively), and plenty more rounding out my top 100, so imagine my crushing disappointment when my reaction to the film that finally sees them sharing the screen is a tepid "yeah, pretty good." The writing is just not up to par, unfortunately, and though the three stars bring enough charisma to liven it up, the dialogue just lacks the charm and wit the story needs. Harsh words for a film I actually really liked, but the wasted potential here is regrettable.

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  • Us

    Us

    ★★½

    Starts off strong, effectively creating tension through fantastic cinematography and notably sharp editing/pacing, but once the table has been properly set, it's a gradual nosedive to the perplexing finale. The acting is undeniably committed and the child actors are pitch-perfect, but the exaggerated, go-for-broke lead performances teeter into overkill and would have been more effective if reigned in a bit. Also, the frequent attempts at humor, though sometimes successful, completely undercut the unnerving tone. It felt like Peele wasn't confident…

  • Shazam!

    Shazam!

    ★★★½

    Calling Shazam! "fun" feels dismissive, because sure, it's a lot of fun, but it's also one of the most unpretentious, heartfelt, exciting, and flat-out best superhero films in a long time. The first act is a bit clunky and bloated, but my fears that this would feel like a glorified TV pilot quickly dissipated. The expected corny humor gets a much needed dose of self-awareness, the characters feel fully fleshed out (even the somewhat one-dimensional villain has clear motivations which…