Rane has written 14 reviews for films rated ★★★½ during 2016.

  • Manchester by the Sea

    Manchester by the Sea

    I must be dead inside, because that much-adored Michelle Williams scene made me feel nothing. Everything here is solid, from accused sexual assaultant Casey Affleck's performance to Lonergan's masterful control of tone, but doesn't come close in achievement to the messy masterpiece that is MARGARET. Hoping a rewatched at a more emotionally available time will prove me wrong, because I hate to thing I'm missing something.

  • The Edge of Seventeen

    The Edge of Seventeen

    ★★★½

    Captures the hideous experience of teen years with most of the sharp edges intact, but the ending wraps up a bit too neatly for the preceding narrative. All performances are great, Steinfeld especially, and each character (teens and adults alike) feels like an actual human until the very end. Didn't care much for the handsome asshole vs. nice guy trope, but at least Hayden Szeto sells it with genuine hilarity.

  • Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

    Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

    ★★★½

    Perhaps the most heartening aspect of this very, VERY funny film is the healthy sense of humor most contemporary musicians appear to have about themselves. Except Taylor Swift, of course, but she's a murderer so who cares.

  • The Fits

    The Fits

    ★★★½

    An impressive formalist achievement, but slightly derailed by a clunky metaphor that doesn't quite reach the boiling point that the narrative obviously intends.

  • Sisters

    Sisters

    ★★★½

    Perhaps a bit too indebted to Hitchcock at times, particularly PSYCHO's unnecessary psycho-babble exposition and fetishization of mental illness, physical deformity, etc. But there's so much raw cinematic talent packed into each frame that it's difficult to come away anything but impressed. De Palma seamlessly integrates '70's-era leftist distrust of authority and tensions both racial and gendered, and in a psychological thriller no less! Combined with what's to become signature De Palma luridity and voyeurism, SISTERS proves itself a deserving entry into the New Hollywood canon.

  • Love & Friendship

    Love & Friendship

    ★★★½

    Perhaps the best misnomered film this year. Paced like a speed-read, which makes it easy to become lost among the multitude of characters introduced within a short span of each other. Portraying love and friendship as a means to an end (especially when the line between wealth and destitution for unmarried women seems precarious at best) and a sharp wit elevates what would often feel like wheel-spinning otherwise. Kate Beckinsale makes for a great anti-heroine, but Tom Bennett makes this movie, period.

  • L.A. Confidential

    L.A. Confidential

    ★★★½

    I never thought I'd find a similarity between L.A. CONFIDENTIAL and ZOOTOPIA, especially something so cynical: both movies end up normalizing police brutality as a (supposedly) legitimate means of combating internal corruption. That's an icky ethical argument to push anytime, but even more so given past couple of years. On top of that, White and Exley compromise their personal ethics (women-beating and unnecessary violence) with little to no retribution. Sure, it's a cynical film, but that's still a dark place…

  • Avengers: Age of Ultron

    Avengers: Age of Ultron

    ★★★½

    A very messy execution of some very interesting ideas. Too bad they're handled so, so much better in IM3, Cap 2 and Cap 3. Ultron's still a lot of fun, even if his character feels like it's missing a few key scenes. And overall I still like the Hulk/Black Widow stuff, though I can't make any excuses for that terrible horrible awful "we're both monsters" line. We can and should do better than that.

  • Midnight Special

    Midnight Special

    ★★★½

    A strong case for Nichols' move to big budget fare, despite weak characters and an arresting sense of mystery that's lifted far too soon (with underwhelming results).

  • The Invitation

    The Invitation

    ★★★½

    A master class in crafting suspense, even if the film's narrative follows predictable thriller beats with an unsatisfying climax.

  • Where to Invade Next

    Where to Invade Next

    ★★★½

    A solid effort with sobering examples of supposed American ideals flourishing in foreign nations, but suffers from unnecessary formal manipulation (the musical cues are just awful) and a bloated length that also feels devoid of essential information. Might have worked better as a mini-series with each country as an episode.

  • Dope

    Dope

    ★★★½

    There's a lot of shagginess and most of the film's second half doesn't work, but DOPE's refreshingly tongue-in-cheek explorations of gangland environments and cultivating identity through intersections of black subcultures make for a funny, high-energy that manages to eclipse all of the weaker (and Bitcoin-related) material.