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  • Abou Leila

    Abou Leila

    ★★★★½

    A headtrip of a crime thriller that blurs reality and hallucination. Perhaps it’s more of a parable on violence and its toll on the psyche. The meanings accrue slowly as the film stays in the immediate reality of two old friends on a road trip, their mission and political affiliations kept deliberately vague. 

    The disorientation starts from the first scene, with unknown assailants targeting a man for assassination. The camera moves in fast on the man so that it’s not…

  • Poly Styrene: I am a Cliché

    Poly Styrene: I am a Cliché

    ★★★★

    A doc that’s remarkable for the many stories that it tells and for the how it tells them. 

    Co-directed by Poly Styrene’s daughter, it’s about their relationship as much as her mom’s punk band — which was whatever the nonsexist version of “seminal” is — mental illness, and spiritual awakening. (Curiously, that last transition started with a mysterious vision of pink light, the same radiant color that led to Philip K. Dick’s breakdown/breakthrough.)

    Visually there are no talking heads, just…

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  • The Surrogate

    The Surrogate

    ★★★★½

    Jasmine Batchelor reminded me of Sally Hawkins in Happy-Go-Lucky through much of this movie. Her Jess remains breezily optimistic through circumstances that have those around her folding into themselves, and the movie functions partly as a morality tale, at least for me, as I found myself wanting to approach life more like she does. As her options narrow, her fierce fighting side emerges; so do some insecurities. It’s a tremendous feature debut. 

    The movie around her is layered with complicated…

  • Us

    Us

    ★★★★

    The first time I saw this, I’d avoided the trailer and knew next to nothing about the plot going in. A few things I appreciated more this time around:

    - How cohesive the script is, laying so much groundwork early on, and how easily this can be read as a movie about class revolt. 

    - The excellent ensemble work, all of them doing double duty, including the extras playing normal carnival-goers and their spastic, funhouse-mirror inverses. 

    - Elisabeth Moss and…