One of the good ones.
Babe 2 is a dark, unflinching, at times almost sadistic little fairytale—if that sounds like an anti-recommendation, consider two things. The first is that storytelling for kids traditionally had this weird, gothic streak; it’s probably a cultural way to process real traumas of life, and a mechanism for pumping up the drama of classic tales. Some would say we have moved on from this, but for my money we’ve mostly just blanded it out, and a dose of the old…
The Card Counter is a Paul Schrader movie, so you know it’s going to be revisiting his old concerns and motifs—a regretful loner looks for a way toward redemption. Here, this is rendered as a blend of Schrader’s last two outings, First Reformed (a masterpiece) and The Dying of The Light/Dark (a clumsy failure). The post-9/11 politics are unavoidable, as is the self-flagellation.
My one hangup here is the inherent uncoolness of the modern American gambling scene—like the sponsor shirt…
It's as good an action/sci-fi movie as has ever been made, and on top of it, it's a subversive, complex, yet highly entertaining examination of the cost of social order. It has held up beautifully over the past 15 years, and in retrospect, it's one of the best movies of the 1990s.
Deeply sad, very funny, and real to the bone.
Rewatching Dog Day Afternoon in 2020, the political and cultural details give you whiplash. This is 50 years ago, but look at the movie’s concerns: the two-Americas problem, instant fame, transgender people, police overkill. All of these are handled by Lumet with his usual gentle, humanist touch, so the portrayal has aged without much issue.