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  • The Blob

    The Blob

    ★★★

    Of course this works on a surface level, in terms of visual style/effects and Chuck Russell’s efficient direction, but as an idea it’s wholly of its time, placing smart-assed characters within a gruesome hostile takeover of both human and non-human proportions. The last third, in particular, is merely decent John Carpenter karaoke. In retrospect, Joe Dante’s Matinee, released five years later, is much funnier and subversive in how it considers the purpose and allure of silver-screen schlock rather than being a glossier version of it.

  • Exterminate All the Brutes

    Exterminate All the Brutes

    I take no pleasure in reporting that Raoul Peck’s globetrotting, centuries-spanning associational documentary is one of the worst “serious” films made in recent years. Shockingly, and with increasing intensity, nearly each aesthetic decision Peck makes has the opposite of its intended effect. Part of the four hours’ failure comes from wanting to be a significant work, all at once, of film theory, film history, postcolonial theory, intellectual history, media history, media theory, and rhetorical analysis. It falters with all these…

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  • La La Land

    La La Land

    Please allow the candor of my passions a forum without preemptive judgment.

    The “post-racial mystique”, as Catherine Squires calls it, need not be found in cases where racial recognition unexpectedly springs to the surface. On the contrary, the very concept of being “post-racial” means that race does not factor into discussions regarding politics or the polity, because the urgency of those conversations have been lessened or even permanently quelled. Accordingly, depictions of history, especially those guided by nostalgia and longing…

  • Crazy Rich Asians

    Crazy Rich Asians

    ★★

    Tenure-track NYU Professors make like $100,000 a year. Econ professors, probably more. The film treats Dr. Chu’s profession like she’s a manager at P.F. Chang’s. With the New York Times publishing articles like “Is $200,000 the New $100,000?” (almost a decade ago at this point), we have some serious work to do untangling these noxious delusions (“fantasy” seems too generous) of obscene wealth pursual, including ones like these that come from (supposedly) socially progressive launching pads.