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  • Judas and the Black Messiah

    Judas and the Black Messiah

    ★★★

    “Our job as The Black Panther Party is to heighten the contradictions.” // “Takes a thief to catch a thief.”

    Ably teases several such contradictions—that there’s no bigger gang than law enforcement and the intelligence community; that these institutions will take your lukewarm “violence doesn’t solve anything” bullshit to the bank all day in maintenance of their monopoly; revolution as oriented toward securing life yet fraught with the threat of death; the seeming injustice that justice itself demands so damn…

  • Django Unchained

    Django Unchained

    ★★★★★

    It’d be easy to say I know what y’all are talking about when you call this technically mediocre and politically disgusting and leave it at that.

    Fact is, I don’t. The transmutability of story, both forward in the Brunhilde tale’s resonance in a new time and place and backward through the revisionism that positions Django to receive it, not simply as romantic fairytale but as necessary liberation. “I know how he feel.” And not as the self-conscious leader of a…

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  • The Black Cauldron

    The Black Cauldron

    ★★½

    ONE 𝚁̶𝙸̶𝙽̶𝙶̶ PIG TO RULE THEM ALL

    A shameless attempt to cash in on the likes of Excalibur, Dragonslayer, and Bakshi’s LOTR adaptation, it feels almost like a transgressive responsibility to remember Disney’s desperate whiffs, flailing away years behind the curve rather than cravenly defining it.

    Not good but equal parts charming and pungent, reflective of a time acutely preferable to the drab, plasticine space-highway Disney’s undoubtedly constructing for us ten light-years* in advance and ends in a black hole.

    *Looked up the spelling/punctuation and learned that we’ve got a Buzz spin-off coming in ‘22 because of course we do.

  • The Mask of Zorro

    The Mask of Zorro

    ★★★★

    Maybe not the last great swashbuckler, but probably the last great classic one? Campbell doesn’t possess Verbinski’s maximalist visual flare but it’s as if that precludes him from dabbling in the latter’s commercial acerbicism, a clear asset when even the Kiwi director’s winks feel totally earnest and germane to what could easily turn into a bloated runtime. Sexy, anti-colonialist Batman-&-Robin without a lick of CGI (okay, “three cuts” of it); CZJ as principled, capable, un-compromised heroine; Matt Letscher as a sociopathic Errol Flynn.

    Antonio and Catherine’s duel is irresponsibly hot.

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  • Three Little Wolves

    Three Little Wolves

    ★★★

    I liked the part where the pigs thought they were being propositioned for a threesome.

  • Grand Illusion

    Grand Illusion

    ★★★★½

    At its best, patriotism is a game we play while we try to find and build upon more grounded modes of relating to one another. At its worst, it compels us to degrade and kill people we have no reason to believe we cannot love—people who crave freedom, need healing, play music, laugh with our children, fill chairs at tables which death has grown too large; learn our languages and teach us theirs. War corrodes decency while it co-opts sentiment,…