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The Top 25 Films of 2018

21 Jan

25. Cam

24. Vox Lux

23. The Miseducation of Cameron Post

22. Leave No Trace

21. Cold War

20. Skate Kitchen

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The Top 15 Film Scenes of 2018

15 Jan

15. (tie) Thoroughbreds, “The Technique”, and Searching, “Opening”

14. You Were Never Really Here, “Surveillance Cameras”

13. Wildlife, “Ending”

12. Blindspotting, “The Garage”

11. The Favourite and Suspiria, “The Dance” (yes these scenes are very different but this was my way of including both)

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On the Basis of Sex Review

13 Jan

It’s pretty basic and exactly what you’d expect going in, but it focuses on such a titan of history that it sometimes manages to overcome its repetitive blandness. Case in point is Leder’s work with the courtroom scenes toward the end, which are certainly cliche but still deliver their themes with cogency and emotion. I feel like we would’ve gotten a more interesting film had Ginsburg’s nephew not written this, but I do applaud him for only focusing on one period of time rather than losing the story while trying to cover her entire life. That’s a problem that many biopic screenwriters don’t avoid.

GRADE: B-

The Top Film Performances of 2018

9 Jan

15. (TIE) Julia Roberts, “Ben Is Back” & Joanna Kulig, “Cold War”

14. Regina King, “If Beale Street Could Talk”

13. Melissa McCarthy & Richard E. Grant, “Can You Ever Forgive Me”

12. Daveed Diggs, “Blindspotting”

11. Olivia Cooke, “Thoroughbreds”

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Vice Review

3 Jan

Obnoxious, condescending, and extremely messy, yet under all of that it’s still somehow quite watchable. I’m not sure if it’s due more to the eminently compelling real life story or to the charm in watching McKay swing for the fences (and miss more often than not, but still). As a biopic, the film, like many others, attempts to cover way too much ground in too little time, and there’s a huge disconnect between McKay’s know it all smugness and the reductive conclusions he makes throughout. As a piece of entertainment, though, there’s still a wild, unsubtle satirical energy to some of the scenes that renders the whole thing an amusing time at the theater. From the reactions you’d think that The Big Short was some sort of magnum opus relative to this, but the two films really are not too far apart. McKay’s still best when he does Anchorman though.

Also, Amy Adams deserves an Oscar or two, but probably not for this.

GRADE: B-

Vox Lux Review

25 Dec

This is slick, provocative filmmaking that manages to avoid losing its positive qualities to pretension. The first half is a legitimately intriguing depiction of celebrity, violence, and trauma and the way all can become intertwined, and the second half simply just turns on the Natalie Portman jets and lets her go. Cassidy holds her own as well, anchoring that first half with just the right amount of vulnerability and complexity.

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Shoplifters Review

23 Dec

The central point about the definitional confines of family is hardly a new one, but the film succeeds because it is so clearly passionate about what matters most: the characters. The societal structures surrounding and confining the characters are certainly present, as they must be, but they are people first before they reflect anything about their society. There’s a delicate balance here throughout that imbues every single scene with both a sense of boundless humanity and helpless unease. You get to know these characters on an intimate level, but there are layers that you know are waiting to be unpeeled, whether for good or for bad. And when it all finally hits, it hits less like a crashing wave and more like a slow, crushing embrace.

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