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  • Raya and the Last Dragon

    Raya and the Last Dragon

    ★★★½

    This movie is the Disney formula applied on top of an East Asian version of Dungeons & Dragons. Awkwafina’s Sisu is the anachronistic hyperactive riffing comedy relief in the vein of Aladdin’s Genie and Mulan’s Mushu and she is pretty funny. Kelly Marie Tran and Gemma Chan also do strong voice work as Raya and her rival Namaari, respectively. The movie seems aimed a bit more at younger children than recent Disney and so is a bit exposition-heavy for clarity. It’s…

  • Tout Va Bien

    Tout Va Bien

    ★★★½

    Godard “sarcastically” casts Yves Montand and Jane Fonda as stars to draw an audience for this socio-political diatribe of a film about workers who usurp a sausage factory. It doesn’t work as conventional entertainment nor is it at all intended to, but as a formal work of art and artifice and a historical artifact, it’s pretty astounding. For this period of his filmmaking, it’s also as accessible as Godard gets. Characters speak directly into the camera giving various points of…

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  • Lady Bird

    Lady Bird

    ★★★

    I'm not sure why "Lady Bird" is getting so much acclaim from critics except that Greta Gerwig is an indie film darling. It's got all the clichés of the coming of age film except they're presented with quirkiness clearly derived from Noah Baumbach and Whit Stillman; only the film is trying too hard to look like it's not trying too hard. We get mother-daughter dysfunction, boyfriend problems, the yearning to get out of a bland city, the protagonist leaving the…

  • Black Panther

    Black Panther

    ★★★

    Black Panther is notable for being by far the biggest budgeted black superhero film ($200 million) up to this point in time and the first in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, its 18th film. It is thematically interesting, looking at the tug between moral duties to one's own country when it clashes with moral obligations to the rest of the world. The issues are topical, weighing isolationism against helping other countries, and the movie expectedly comes out on the anti-Trumpian side.…