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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 Happening

    The Happening

    ★★

    Terrorists ain’t got shit on what we’re already doing to each other.

    I’d surmised the overwhelming negative reaction at release was just the result of a mid-aughts obsession with plot mechanics, but as it happens the execution is actually worse. Still way too interesting to dismiss altogether. Thinking of it as a colorized, ill-advisedly expanded Twilight Zone episode helps. Gives the premise its due consideration and reframes the truly terrible performances from Wahlberg and Deschanel. The disparity between them and Bruce and Haley Joel is hard to comprehend.

  • The Big Gundown

    The Big Gundown

    ★★★★

    Despite your noblest intentions, you’ll always be constrained by your orders and, more broadly, your function. You’re not a hero, you’re a tool.

    News broke this past week that the LA Sheriff’s Department has set aside 2,000 jail-beds in order to sweep Venice Beach of its unhoused residents ahead of the 4th of July. (As someone who works in homelessness services, it’s both an inhumane and ineffective method of addressing homelessness, but I digress.) Of all the personnel involved in a…

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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,…