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  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: The End of Evangelion

    Neon Genesis Evangelion: The End of Evangelion

    ★★★★★

    And in the end
    The love you take
    Is equal to the love
    You make

    Neon Genesis Evangelion is a pop culture monolith to the point where it’s hard to describe it as anything but itself - if hard-pressed, I’d probably lump it into the genre of “experimental cosmic horror psycho-drama kaiju trauma-fest” - but I feel like this somehow captures its complex, intentionally contradictory blend of tones and styles in a clean 90-minute package, all while pushing every one…

  • School in the Crosshairs

    School in the Crosshairs

    ★★★★

    Anybody can make a movie about psychic invaders from Venus who live inside the Doctor Who title sequence and rotoscope people to death, but only the director of House could turn that premise into a blunt, pitch-black satire where parents and teachers gladly accept fascism as a solution for teen delinquency. Slow to start*, but forgivably so; once it gets moving, it’s so manic and relentlessly inventive that it practically puts Chuck Jones’s best to shame. God bless you, Nobuhiko…

  • The Cave

    The Cave

    ★★½

    Mostly competent save for the extremely 2000s choppy editing (the practical effects and set design are actually impressive, too), but competent in the most boring way imaginable. It does what it needs to do as a horror movie, but does it in the most perfunctory way possible, leaving no room for meaningful characters or original setpieces. The worst I can say for it is that it exists; unfortunately, that’s the best I can say for it, too. Never thought I’d be disappointed with a film featuring a character named “Top Buchanan”, but here we are.

  • Raising Cain

    Raising Cain

    ★★★½

    “They were not cages! They were specially designed infant environments!”

    Completely, gloriously loopy from start to finish to the point where John Lithgow somehow ends up portraying both his own split personality and his evil mind-controlling father, and yet... never really a bad movie? De Palma seems to know what he’s going for and plays up the camp to maximum levels, but still takes things seriously enough to deliver a few of his signature setpieces along the way - nothing…

  • Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky

    Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky

    ★★★★½

    Grimy, bloody, cheap-as-all-hell (and very, VERY JJBA) black comedy martial arts mayhem underscored by a vicious and sadly prophetic streak of anti-private prison social commentary that’s blunt to the point of centering the final action scene entirely around a meat grinder. Verhoeven would be proud.

  • Luce

    Luce

    ★★★½

    Phenomenally well-written and well-acted on a scene-to-scene basis (and bolstered by a nerve-shredding score that helps carry the emotional weight when the performances can’t), but ultimately let down by its approach to its themes, which feels like the intellectual equivalent of Alfred Molina’s valet tossing fireworks around in Boogie Nights - content to throw out dozens of different ideas, but never really capable of giving them any real depth. As thought-provoking as its occasional musings on the nature of model…

  • Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

    Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

    ★★★★

    Pretty much designed from top to bottom as a crash course in Horror 101 for budding movie buffs - Del Toro and Øvredal cover everything from visual language to common forms of subtext, even making an outright argument for why horror needs to be politically relevant. I have my issues (too much pseudo-Whedon quippy dialogue, also why the hell isn’t Stephen Gammell credited?), but they’re moot at best; a good and important purpose outranks any minor flaws. Probably would have given this an easy 5 if I’d seen it when I was a kid.

  • Sleuth

    Sleuth

    ★★★★★

    “Property's always been more highly regarded in this country than people.”

    Deserves to be held alongside the best socially conscious genre films of the era, even if it seems more classy and uptight than your average Romero or Craven joint. Unlike other whydunnits* like Deathtrap, where the intricacy of the plot is also the point of the plot, this has a hell of a lot to say, most of it about the British class system and none of it particularly…

  • The Farewell

    The Farewell

    ★★★★½

    Maybe one of this year’s finest examples of film form following function (filmmakers, take notes, there will be a test). Every piece of grammar - awkward amounts of headroom, characters framed by visible walls and doorways, slow and precise staging, an almost complete lack of camera motion - exists not to show off, but because it’s what the story needs to convey itself as best it can; even the smallest melodramatic gesture comes to feel like a threat capable of…

  • You're Next

    You're Next

    ★★★½

    Achieves a weirdly rare feat for modern “self-aware” horror: taking itself seriously as an actual horror movie, almost even more so than as a comedy. I still think I prefer The Guest more (not too hot on the scares themselves, which are uneven at best), but the dark humor at least makes up for some of the more generic 2010s indie horror bugbears. A+ solution to the “please help we can only afford one popular song for our soundtrack” problem, too.

  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond Is Unbreakable - Chapter 1

    JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond Is Unbreakable - Chapter 1

    ★★★★

    WHAT A BEAUTIFUL DUWANG

    This will, without a doubt, be the most biased review I will ever write - JJBA is my favorite comic book series of all time, and my Miike fandom needs no explanation - so it heartens me to report that, yes, this is a very good adaptation and a damn good entryway into JJBA to boot. Miike’s biggest change is to significantly slow down the pace of the comics without adding new filler, letting character interactions…

  • The Nightingale

    The Nightingale

    ★★★★½

    One hundred percent a horror movie, even if critics hesitate to label it as such. Kent’s style hasn’t shifted since The Babadook; if anything, she’s refined it, honing her grasp of atmosphere and pacing to the point where the threat of violence - physical, sexual, or psychological - hangs over every frame like a fog. It’s also refreshing to see a story about a character overcoming racist preconceptions that never bows to sugarcoating or white savior archetypes, though I doubt…