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  • Blithe Spirit

    Blithe Spirit

    ★★★

    "The disconnect in this adaptation is a bit more noticeable than any manner of faithfulness to the play or to the 1945 feature. Much of its comic energy is burned off on elevating the back and forth between Charles and Elvira off the written page where it would’ve reluctantly languished. Not much is left to keep the other two-thirds as elastic and lively. A mild shame, where Hall cannot make heads or tails of the material presented, aside from the supernatural angle, the barn-burning filmmakers impatient with bated breath, and the flapping romance element."

    Full review: 989bull.com/review-blithe-spirit-introducing-a-new-generation-to-coward-with-mixed-results/

  • Raya and the Last Dragon

    Raya and the Last Dragon

    ★★★★

    "Where Raya and the Last Dragon wins out best is with Miss Tran, whose vindication after a trying time in the Star Wars saga is all but assured. She’s very much the real deal, focused but never lacking in energy as this adventure plays out. Quite possibly a new Disney favorite in the making, it’s as whimsical as it is grownup. Affirming as it is comical. Rousing as it is narrowly solemn. Slight story stumbles aside, the film’s idea of reunion and healing against sustained issues of situational control, that’s where it pulls itself back together, cautiously."

    Full review: 989bull.com/review-raya-and-the-last-dragon-refreshing-disney-adventure-is-2021s-first-theatrical-triumph/

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  • The Letter Room

    The Letter Room

    ★★★½

    My preferred pick for live action short. Oscar Isaac manages to elevate its narrowminded plot on raw charisma alone. We attain enough closure with the points it prepares, but it’s also a rather missed opportunity to dive a little deeper on the subjects it recognizes. Particularly flaws and inequities within prison hierarchy. Not enough in play to flesh it out to a feature, but still needing more contextual evidence to round out its journey.

  • Two Distant Strangers

    Two Distant Strangers

    ★★½

    I went into this expecting it just to be a straightforward comedy. Going in completely blind, the dramatic swing in tone left me a bit cold. It has its touching moments; heck, the one-off fantasy surprise in this time loop had me in tears. Where mistrust clouds judgment, that’s what impacted me most on a human level, not just on a level of police appreciation. That doesn’t mean its execution still wasn’t painfully flawed. Still, its urgent relevancy will probably be its deciding factor with Academy voters.

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  • Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

    Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

    ★★★★

    What we have here is the lighter side of Quentin: not too dark, not overly violent, not one to rely so heavily on the motifs he has built over his previous films. It’s uncannily funny, nearly autobiographical, a poignant self-reflection of why film mattered back in the day. However, it’s a little easy to forget the whole Manson connection, and that’s fine. It’s nothing more than a mere footnote in a thick, hazy Los Angelenean backdrop. As such, Leo and…

  • Avengers: Endgame

    Avengers: Endgame

    ★★★★

    Now this... this is how you honor a legacy well built. With compassion for great characters, a story for the ages, an epic final battle, a musical score destined to nest in the ears, and an honest reminder of exactly why we cared for this universe in the first place. It’s all here, it’s a bit overwhelming at times, unashamedly fanservicey, but a magnificent feat that doesn’t much surpass its predecessors as it does paving the course for the future.…