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  • The Farewell

    The Farewell

    ★★★★½

    We begin in a tense waiting room in China before cutting back and forth to the bustling streets of New York City. Billi (Awkwafina) is talking long-distance to her grandmother 'Nai Nai' (Zhao Shuzhen) on the phone, a pleasant conversation that runs the gamut of perfectly hyperbolic grandmotherly concerns (Wear a hat so you don't freeze to death! Don't let anyone steal your earrings!) to relatable generational-gap avoidance (Nai Nai carefully hides the fact that she's currently waiting on a…

  • Spider-Man: Far from Home

    Spider-Man: Far from Home

    ★★

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

    If there's one thing Marvel Studios has proven themselves incredibly adept at over the years (it's a lot more than just one thing, but work with me here folks), it's probably the rarest and most sought-after skill in our current blockbuster landscape: the ability to craft enjoyable, event-status fare that audiences keep coming back to again and again.

    Somewhere along the way, though, I can't help but wonder if this skill turned into something more closely resembling a sleight-of-hand trick.…

  • Us

    Us

    ★★★★

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

    "We are . . . Americans."

    It's 1986. Ronald Reagan is serving his second term as President of the United States. The Cold War is drawing to an unofficial close. Marketing for the charity fundraiser "Hands Across America" - ostensibly aimed towards fighting hunger and poverty - pop up on TV and even T-shirts.

    A fun-loving, yet somewhat reckless father takes his wife and young daughter to the Santa Cruz boardwalk for a night at the carnival. And because this…

  • Captain Marvel

    Captain Marvel

    ★★½

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

    It wasn't hard to notice that my IMAX showing for Captain Marvel was as packed as I've ever seen a Thursday night opening, meaning that by the time I'd bought my tickets the only decent seats left were the third row from the front. The nosebleeds, basically. A 28 x 58 sized screen, seated roughly 20 feet away, and 5 foot 5 me (I'm being a bit generous, mind you) slouching down and looking up the whole time - yeah,…

  • Leave No Trace

    Leave No Trace

    ★★★★½

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

    Debra Granik just gets perspective.

    Her previous film, Winter's Bone, starred a genuinely masterful Jennifer Lawrence as a teenager forced to grow up before her time and care for her remaining family in the harsh Ozark terrain, fending off the harmful intentions of the grizzled community surrounding her while trusting a select few to help find her missing father.

    Yet not once does Granik judge the dangerous, unpredictable individuals Lawrence's Ree comes across. Underneath their threatening exteriors, these are simply…

  • Slow West

    Slow West

    ★★★★

    A hapless boy, desperately out of his element, searches for his lost love. A rugged, world-weary drifter with mysterious motivations offers his services. And all the while, death slowly marches both ahead and behind them.

    As westerns go, that might not be a terribly original (or for that matter, uh, a very good) elevator pitch. John Maclean's debut almost seems like a needless exercise in futility - how do you burst onto the scene with any sort of conviction while…

  • Crimson Peak

    Crimson Peak

    ★★★½

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

    The house breathes. The house bleeds. And the house is haunted by its own past, exposed to the elements and literally sinking beneath the weight of its bloody secrets.

    Allerdale Hall, the Sharpe family's secluded estate, is as much a living entity as anyone else in this Gothic romance - if not more so. It just so happens to be in its death throes as this story begins; decaying from the inside out, yet formidable enough to retain a vibrant…

  • The Sisters Brothers

    The Sisters Brothers

    ★★★★

    A hypothetical 'studio version' of this movie probably would've played out exactly the way the official trailers (mis)led the public: leaning into John C Reilly's comedic, campy charm with Joaquin Phoenix playing up his goofy affectations in an old Western-styled buddy comedy filled with obligatory standoffs and irreverent drinking and plenty of indulgent violence.

    The movie itself ends up being. . .not that at all. And honestly, it's all the better for it.

    Oh, nobody's lying about the double crosses…

  • Unsane

    Unsane

    ★★★★

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

    Take away the iPhone shenanigans, and I can easily see some people complaining, "Well, what's so special about this one?"

    Sure, harshly-lit psychiatric hospitals aren't anything new; they've been the home of countless horror B-movies before (not without good reason, though!). And setting aside how the character is infused with extremely timely allusions to toxic Nice Guy Syndrome, anyone even remotely familiar with the trappings of this genre wouldn't mistake Joshua Leonard's David Strine as anything other than the villain…

  • Insomnia

    Insomnia

    ★★★½

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

    Christopher Nolan's approach has always been deceptively simple.

    That's not an insult, either; just a fact that tends to get lost amid all the justifiable hype directed towards his penchant for technical wizardry, his flair for messing around with time and conventional narrative structure, and his committal to delivering meaningful and intelligent concepts wrapped in crowd-pleasing blockbusters.

    But at their core, his movies essentially use their trailer-ready money shots as little more than mere texture while honing in on extremely…

  • Iron Man 3

    Iron Man 3

    ★★★★

    If The Avengers was all about proving that a superhero extravaganza filled with A-list talent and B-list superheroes jostling for space could actually pay off, then Iron Man 3 took it upon itself to prove that going from the sheer spectacle of the Battle of New York to the quieter, introspective battle within Tony Stark's own mind could still put butts in seats too.

    This feeling of moving on from and defining its identity apart from The Avengers makes up…

  • Iron Man 2

    Iron Man 2

    ★★½

    Given how far Marvel's come in a relatively short amount of time, it's almost shocking to look back during my MCU re-watch and realize it wasn't always such an unstoppable, consistently reliable franchise. If anything, the first three films that kicked off this little miracle of a shared universe prove that Marvel was in fact, once upon a time, mortal.

    Iron Man is still a blast, don't get me wrong, but the one-two punch of The Incredible Hulk (which I…