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  • Aliens

    Aliens

    ★★★½

    I really have no idea why Aliens is so highly regarded. It’s the cheesy, typical blockbuster sequel to the true master work, featuring potentially the most punchable characters I’ve ever seen in a movie. It only even gets this rating because of the final half hour.

  • Alien

    Alien

    ★★★★½

    Alien may be slow paced, but don’t let that fool you. It’s a relentless nightmare - mounting suspense in measured, incremental steps as the creature’s lifecycle unfolds. Just as the film appears to let up, it escalates some more. Kane seems completely fine after the face hugger detaches, yet we all know what happens shortly thereafter. The alien that emerges is tiny and unassuming, but that doesn’t last very long. Even at the end - Ripley has escaped via the shuttle and all is well. Surprise!

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  • Reservoir Dogs

    Reservoir Dogs

    ★★★★★

    I get completely absorbed in Reservoir Dogs every time I watch it, which speaks not only to the strength of the script, but to the interesting nonlinear narrative structure deployed by Tarantino. As Mr. Orange lies in a pool of blood, trying to convince Nice Guy Eddie that Mr. Blonde went rogue, he has no knowledge of the bond between the characters and Blonde’s display of fierce loyalty in the past. But we do. It makes Penn’s classic reaction that much more fun to watch. I wish Quentin still made movies like this. Sigh.

  • Mank

    Mank

    ★★½

    I don’t want to call the script bad because there’s some really clever dialogue for the characters to toy with in Mank, but from a pure storytelling perspective, it was... not good. The film unfolds in scattered fragments of Mank’s life that characterize the man but ultimately feel untethered to the larger story at play - that is, his endeavor to finish the screenplay for Citizen Kane, bedridden and consumed by alcohol in 1940. It feels jumbled, anemic and without…