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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-

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The Top 25 Albums of 2018

2 Jan

25. serpentwithfeet, “soil”

24. Adrianne Lenker, “abysskiss”

23. Blood Orange, “Negro Swan”

22. Lucy Dacus, “Historian”

21. Superorganism, “Superorganism”

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The Top 10 Television Episodes of 2018

31 Dec

10. Better Call Saul, “Winner”

9. Pose, “Love Is the Message”

8. Homecoming, “Protocol”

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The Top Television Performances of 2018

30 Dec

And we’re back for another round of year end lists! To kick it off, we have the top television performances of 2018:

15. Brian Tyree Henry, “Atlanta”

14. Elizabeth Olsen, “Sorry for Your Loss”

13. Bill Hader, “Barry”

12. Elisabeth Moss and Yvonne Strahovski, “The Handmaid’s Tale”

11. Hayley Atwell, “Howards End”

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Black Mirror: Bandersnatch Review

28 Dec

This is a middling episode of Black Mirror elevated by the Choose Your Own Adventure framework, one that can only really work on a one off basis before its inventiveness wears off. This applies to the episode itself as well; on the first go around, I was thoroughly enjoying the ability to make choices, but when I revisited the choices to gain a better understanding of the full picture, I found myself thoroughly bored and occasionally frustrated. I’m being a bit generous due to the time and skill that must have gone into the crafting of this episode, but repeat viewings further uncover a flimsiness in character and plot that lead to an underwhelming conclusion no matter what.

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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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