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  • Beyond the Valley of the Dolls

    Beyond the Valley of the Dolls

    ★★★½

    It’s late-stage hippie kitsch with satire only Roger Ebert could devise. It’s a colorful, smart takedown of “Valley of the Dolls,” a film I admit I didn’t see before this, with all the gratuitous nudity and beheadings you’d want. It’s a trailblazer, with admittedly problematic attempts to get gay characters into the film. 

    Still, while it’ll take some suspension of 21st century sensibilities, it’s still a great film and worth at least one more viewing.

  • The Mist

    The Mist

    ★★★½

    The first time I watched this, I loved it. It was dark, brooding and fresh. Now, it feels a bit long, sanctimonious and outdated. It still has the twist ending that makes you wonder if M. Night Shyamalan didn’t direct it, but at more than two hours, it’s hard to stay engaged with a film that’s becoming more reflective of society — especially the David Koresh-like character Marcia Gay Harden plays. Ignorance and tribalism spread like a flash flood while their worlds crumble. 

    This is a Frank Darabont/Stephen King mashup that doesn’t rise to The Shawshank Redemption level, but it’s certainly worth a first look.

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  • Fantastic Planet

    Fantastic Planet

    ★★★★

    It’s weird, it’s trippy, and it’s unabashedly French. It’s an overlooked gem with stunning imagination and imagery. The soundtrack was funky and brilliant, as well.

  • Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum

    Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum

    ★★★½

    It plays like a cautionary tale for the TikTok generation, but it’s creepy enough to make it worth your while. It avoids the horror trope of personally unpleasant college-age kids who make being vacuous an olympic event. You almost sympathize with them. But it makes due with the found footage aesthetic, so expect camera jiggling enough to give you motion sickness and jilted camera shots showing you god-knows-what. But it’s ultimately a fun take on the Blair Witch idea.