justice league

Each movie in the DCEU can be parsed by its sound. Man of Steel remains — to me, at least — the best of the DC films so far; the theme at its core is simplistic, but it aches and it soars, and speaking on a broader level, it also comes closest to synthesizing the superhero with the present climate in the way that Christopher Nolan’s Batman films did. The score for Batman v. Superman is operatic, almost gothic (“The Red Capes Are Coming” is remarkable in this regard, baroque in style and an inverse to the Man of Steel theme), impressive in its ambition even if doesn’t necessarily manage to pull it all together. Wonder Woman is bright, more “classic” in terms of the film scores it evokes, in line with its less dreary tone and how it hews closer to the usual superhero movie template.

All this is a way of saying that Justice League falls somewhere in the middle of the pack. Danny Elfman gives us notes of insanity reminiscent of his work on the Burton Batman movies, but what glimpses we get of a unique film are lost in trying to incorporate bits and pieces of the previous films, not to mention the incessant noise that comprises the fight sequences. This isn’t to say that it isn’t good. On the contrary, Zack Snyder’s latest film is fine; it’s just perhaps a little lesser than its predecessors due to how much it tries to scale back its ambitions and play by the rules.
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murder on the orient express review

If you’re going to see Murder on the Orient Express, try to catch it in 70mm. Much of the pleasure that can be derived from the movie comes from simply looking at it: director Kenneth Branagh has made a film that’s undeniably gorgeous (aside from a few miscalculated additions of CGI). It’s as sumptuous as a movie about a train line that came to be synonymous with luxury travel ought to be. The rest of the movie doesn’t quite live up to that bar, but by God, it tries.

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The Deuce Season Finale Review

(We’re going to kickstart our weekly discussion of HBO’s The Deuce by answering one simple question: who or what is the “best bet” in this week’s episode?)

As with any show in which there are so many moving pieces, it’s impossible to say that The Deuce did right by every single one of them, but it did its damnedest. This is generally true of the show — not just when it comes to the characters but when it comes to how much attention is given to each story. Some float — Eileen’s (Maggie Gyllenhaal) arc, for example — and others wobble — the “journalist sleeps with source” trope — but The Deuce is still an inimitably lovely piece of work.

The instances of casual cruelty are offset by how much George Pelecanos and David Simon (not to mention their writers) care about the characters we’re seeing. The most horrifying scene of The Deuce happens in the season finale, and the almost thoughtless way in which it happens is particularly jarring. But, for all that initially seems cold and cruel of the show and not just the characters involved, the repercussions get teased out bit by bit. The Deuce may be a hotbed of sin, but The Deuce has too big a heart to be quashed so easily. When we come back for season two, we’ll have jumped ahead in time; hopefully we’ll see most of the cast return. We’ve lost some of the best characters already, it’d be a pity not to have the whole gang back.

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The Deuce Au Reservoir Review

While cops and pimps might rule the Deuce, there’s one thing they’ve got no control over: the passage of time. Once again, The Deuce provides us with a look at the inexorable tides of change, as the sex industry continues to change and New York does, too. Some boats rise, some boats fall, but for all that the characters aren’t all experiencing the same fortunes, this is quite possibly the best episode yet.

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lady bird trailer

Love hurts. Whether it’s platonic, romantic, or familial, the relationships that we build are rarely as clean or as kind as we usually see on screen. Part of what makes Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird so remarkable is her refusal to shy away from that ugliness and how, as a result, the film becomes all the more beautiful.

Lady Bird follows Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) as she navigates her last year of high school. Her dissatisfaction with her life in the suburbs (she wants to go to college on the East Coast) is compounded by financial anxieties — her family may not be able to afford tuition to the colleges she really wants to attend, and she pretends they’re in a different income bracket in order to impress her new friends — as well as her romantic hopes and disappointments, and her fractious relationship with her mother (Laurie Metcalf).

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The Deuce Why Me Review

(We’re going to kickstart our weekly discussion of HBO’s The Deuce by answering one simple question: who or what is the “best bet” in this week’s episode?)

The times, they are a-changin’ — in both senses of the phrase. This week’s episode of The Deuce moves us forward to the most wonderful time of the year, as well as giving us a sense of the changing landscape where prostitution and pornography are concerned. For being a Christmas episode, it’s not quite as heart-warming as you might expect — it’s got one of the most harrowing scenes we’ve seen in recent weeks — but progress is still being made.

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Wonderstruck trailer 2

Todd HaynesWonderstruck is like a meal where the servings are just a little too small. There’s not enough food to properly chew on, or at least not enough to warrant the size or splendor of the plate on which it’s being served.

The film is adapted from Brian Selznick’s novel by the same name, and is relatively dense in a way that makes its literary origin obvious. There are two stories, set fifty years apart. In 1927, a deaf girl named Rose (Millicent Simmonds, who is notably also deaf) runs away from home in pursuit of actress, Lillian Mayhew (Julianne Moore). In 1977, a boy named Ben (Oakes Fegley) runs away from home in the wake of his mother’s death, in a bid to find the father he never knew.

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The Deuce What Kind of Bad review

(We’re going to kickstart our weekly discussion of HBO’s The Deuce by answering one simple question: who or what is the “best bet” in this week’s episode?)

A lot of this week’s episode of The Deuce is set-up for what’s to come later on. Luckily, The Deuce isn’t the kind of show for which that’s an indictment. We’ve spent enough time with these characters by now that even set-up is rewarding, and it helps that the cast is dynamite through and through.

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Last Flag Flying Review

There’s one thing that Richard Linklater said while attending this year’s New York Film Festival that’s stuck with me: “To me, time and cinema are so intertwined that you can’t even separate them.” It’s a sentiment that’s similarly inextricable from his latest film, Last Flag Flying. There’s no escaping time. The movie is a snapshot of a very specific moment in American history — one that we’re still recovering from — and constantly reminds us of the passage of time despite how stuck its characters seem to be. In the moment, the big picture Linklater’s getting at is hard to see, but that’s the nature of time, isn’t it? It’s only hindsight that’s 20/20.

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The Deuce I See Money review

(We’re going to kickstart our weekly discussion of HBO’s The Deuce by answering one simple question: who or what is the “best bet” in this week’s episode?)

This week’s episode of The Deuce is remarkable on two fronts: one, it’s a domestic episode in a series that’s so focused on specific lines of work, and two, it introduces the show’s queer storylines. These developments are intertwined; The Deuce is about the porn industry, but it’s not a story that can properly be told without taking its context into account. There are the ramifications of the Vietnam War, of cleaning up New York City, of the Stonewall riots — it’s testament to The Deuce that it manages to capture that scope.

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