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BlacKkKlansman Review

11 Aug

It seems counterintuitive in theory to call a Spike Lee film about the KKK lifeless, noncommittal, and disappointingly safe, but that’s exactly what it is. Lee has managed to create an easily digestible film out of incredibly thought provoking subject matter, ultimately playing very well to a white liberal crowd because it exercises just enough—if not too much—restraint in order to not offend anyone. And by restraint I mean distance, because it very rarely challenges the audience and instead hovers around the edges of race instead of truly engaging with it.

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Searching Review

8 Aug

A surprisingly engrossing thriller with a simple yet effective emotional backbone. The opening sequence is a beautiful knockout of a short film on its own, capturing exposition with a certain depth and heart not often seen in films like this. Yes, the beats don’t always hit throughout and the momentum sometime stalls, but the important part is that Cho manages to sell that emotional through line at an impressive rate. And somehow, Chaganty and his editors—Nick Johnson and Will Merrick—manage to make a story told primarily through FaceTime resonate on a viscerally thrilling level.

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Blindspotting Review

3 Aug

This is bold filmmaking that bites off a bit more than it can chew, but I’ll take that any day over a failure to engage with the subject matter. The subject matter in this case is Oakland, Oakland in all its gleeful highs and terrifying lows. Diggs and Casal take a culture first rather than issue first approach to the script, letting hot button topics like police brutality and gentrification serve as sobering truths of everyday life rather than as the frameworks of the story.

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Mission: Impossible – Fallout Review

3 Aug

The plot is predictable, the characters are basic, and the moral dilemmas tackled are pretty standard fare. I hesitate to call this some type of monumental achievement, but it is one of those rare breeds that manages to find a lot of its emotional resonance through the artistry of its craft. It commits to its action with skill, enthusiasm, and just the right amount of ludicrous, embracing all of the most basic elements of its genre and ramping them up to the extreme. Each set piece is so viscerally thrilling and exhilarating that every punch and gun shot feels in tune with the drama of the story. It makes you want these characters to succeed and get out of it alive and save the world, even though you know they will.

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Eighth Grade Review

23 Jul

Eighth grade can be an insecurity-infested hellhole, an important transitional period that manages to feel both pointless and confusing. In art, it’s a time period ripe for ridicule and nostalgia in equal measure, but the film is better off because Burnham chooses neither route. He’s a guy bursting with things to say, but grounded by the knowledge that none of us need to give a shit about anything he says.

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The First Purge Review

14 Jul

Some movies are entertaining. This is not one of them. Listen, I can forgive many things when it comes to this franchise because I love the concept so much. The second and third installments are a decently fun time at the movies (let’s not talk about the first), and I’ll always be a staunch defender who wishes they went even further in ridiculousness. But this? This is difficult to forgive. Aside from a few striking images and a rousing action set piece at the end, nothing about this remotely resembles a movie of even average quality.

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Leave No Trace Review

29 Jun

Oftentimes too meditative and languid for its own good, but that’s fine because the central dynamic between father and daughter is so strong. The common struggles of parenthood, adaptation, and growing up are magnified in intriguing fashion through the premise, and more than anything, Granik demonstrates respect and empathy for all her characters’ situations. The film does not turn a critical lens on any singular perspective, understanding that we all have our reasons for living the ways we do and that we are perfectly capable of figuring it out as we go. No judgment on others’ living situations and methods of survival, as it should be. Ben Foster is great. Thomasin McKenzie is sensational, joining Elsie Fisher this year as hopefully the Next Big Thing.

GRADE: B

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