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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The Deuce The Principle is All 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?)

In its third episode, The Deuce feels like it’s starting to settle into a rhythm. This episode is slow — there’s no rush to get anywhere now that all the pieces and players have been set into motion — but at the risk of getting into innuendos, it’s a good time. The pleasure is in seeing how these pieces come together, not how quickly it happens.

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Kingsman The Golden Circle Review

Before going any further, let’s get this out of the way: I loved the first Kingsman movie. On a purely visual, gets-your-adrenaline-going level, Matthew Vaughn has achieved the platonic ideal of the comic book movie. The Kingsman movies spectacles of bright colors, stylish costumes, outlandish violence, and a complete lack of attention to the laws of physics, all scored to pop songs that are immediately recognizable. To be sure, I loved the physical act of watching Kingsman: The Golden Circle. More than a few sequences got me to clap in delight. But beyond that, there’s something about this second installment that doesn’t quite click.

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

There’s a curious kind of romanticism attached to 1970s New York City. The Deuce, created by David Simon and George Pelecanos, delves straight into it, setting a tone that’s just as delightfully pulpy, and introducing a cast of pimps, sex workers, gangsters, and cops (including twins played by James Franco) that rivals Game of Thrones in sheer scope. In its first two episodes, we get a glimpse of each of their lives, as well as the first inklings of where the whole enterprise is headed.

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Stephen King's It

There’s a level of artifice inherent in acting. A great performance lets us forget that. Generally speaking, it’s a more difficult task when it comes to child actors, which is what makes Andy Muschietti’s It so remarkable. The Losers’ Club he’s assembled is stellar across the board; there’s nothing about these kids that seems fake or affected, to the point that even when the film starts to fly off into more extreme flights of fancy, they manage to keep it firmly grounded.

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Logan Lucky

The Logan family is cursed with bad luck. Jimmy (Channing Tatum) can’t hold down a job due to the injury that derailed his future prospects as a football star, Clyde (Adam Driver) lost his hand in the process of returning home from Iraq, and there’s a history of mishaps and misfortunes in their family that seem too bad to just be coincidence. They’re stolid folk, too, to the point that they’re known amongst the locals for being simple. But, as we grow to learn over the course of Logan Lucky, the Logans aren’t idiots. They’re just earnest.

The entire film is built on that kind of earnestness. For the most part, Steven Soderbergh’s return from retirement runs at a handsome clip, as breezy as the NASCAR race from under which the Logan clan is about to steal an untold sum of money. In any other heist movie, that’d be enough, and an impressive feat in and of itself, but Logan Lucky takes it one step further by stopping to smell the roses, too. Jokes run on without wearing out, their punch lines more the scenario that we’re witnessing than any single witticism, and scenes take all the time they need instead of simply making way for the next gag. The best sequences are those that linger; they’re the grounding influence in a movie that could otherwise easily fly away on how ingenious it is.

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Dunkirk score

The sheer amount of space in Dunkirk is overwhelming. There are three vast swaths of it: air, land, and sea, rendered in stark whites and blacks, and blues in-between. Men and boats alike come across as matchstick figures, just as dominated by negative space as any J.M.W. Turner painting. Warmer colors come in the form of the soldiers and civilians whose fight to stay alive forms the backbone of the film’s narrative, and as the tick-tick-tick of Hans Zimmer’s score kicks in and the three main storylines intercut, it becomes apparent that we’re not just looking at empty space; we’re seeing triple forces, slowly threatening to crush the men stranded at Dunkirk.

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The Strain Season 4

This Sunday, The Strain heads into its fourth and final season. Created by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan, it’s a horror drama with enviable pedigree and made waves at the time of its premiere in 2014 with its unsettling ad campaign (most of the promo images for the first season featured a worm making its way into an unfortunate victim’s eye, which was eventually taken out of circulation due to complaints) and its new take on vampires. Since then, the show — much like the vampires on it — has mutated and changed. This has been equal parts good and bad news; the show’s inconsistencies haven’t really been ironed out, but the heights it reaches make up for the valleys.

Spoilers for the first three seasons of The Strain follow.

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the vulture best marvel villain

Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) is the very first character we meet in Spider-Man: Homecoming. If this were any other movie (i.e. were the movie’s title not Spider-Man), it wouldn’t be hard to imagine him as a protagonist. But as the saying goes, a story is only as good as its villain. Spider-Man has always felt particularly human in a genre filled with superhumans; luckily, the Vulture is similarly grounded (despite having a custom-built set of wings), and Homecoming is all the better for it.

Major spoilers follow.

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better call saul season finale review 2

(Every week, we’re going to kick off discussion about Better Call Saul season 3 by answering one simple question: who came out on top when the credits rolled?)

In its season finale, “Lantern,” the slow burn of Better Call Saul becomes a conflagration. It’s a stunning, bleak episode, with each thread hammering home the problem that’s plagued the characters from the very beginning: It’s not business. It’s personal.
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