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life itself roger ebert

I was a fan of Roger Ebert for about 15 years, read a few of his books (including his memoir) and followed his blog, so there isn’t much about him in Life Itself that I didn’t know already, apart from some very touching, candid scenes of him during the last four months of his life. But that’s okay.

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godzilla

As a film, Godzilla is perfectly adequate. But that’s the nicest thing I can say about it. It’s always disappointing when a breakthrough director like Gareth Edwards catches the eye of a big studio only to be hired for rote product. Big blockbusters like this tend to swallow filmmakers whole and render them more or less anonymous (see also: J.J. Abrams‘s Star Trek, Guillermo Del Toro‘s Pacific Rim). Edwards’s Monsters was a distinctive movie with real characters and story. His Godzilla is more expensive, but less of a movie. There’s nothing in it we haven’t seen a million times before.

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hobbit

Eventually I may go back to try to figure out why The Lord of the Rings trilogy works so well and this one doesn’t. Desolation of Smaug, like last year’s An Unexpected Journey, gets the job done well enough. I’m not mad at it. But by the time “The Two Towers” was over more than a decade ago I was fully enthralled. Not so much here.

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blackfish

I’m admittedly skeptical about a lot of animal-rights documentaries. I’m a meat-eater, and it feels hypocritical of me to choose to be outraged over the treatment of one animal while enjoying bacon.

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only god forgives

I knew this had poor reviews, but what I’d heard about it made me think it would at least be interesting — if not good, then at least the kind of bad that would be entertaining in its own way.

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frances ha

Very much like Girls on HBO, and while it took me a little over a season to warm up to Hannah Horvath, it only took me about an hour to come around to Frances (Greta Gerwig). Difficult for me to connect to this character early on and for similar reasons: she’s pathologically unwilling to take responsibility for herself, and it’s hard to sympathize with that because she doesn’t really have to struggle, and she knows it. As one character says, “The only people who can afford to be artists in New York are rich.” She, like a few of the others in the film, has the comfort of knowing she has a fallback position if playing the starving artist doesn’t pan out.

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ida

This film is composed entirely of beautiful shots, but boy is it slow.

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Interior.-Leather-Bar.-

I was curious, it streams instantly on Netflix, and it was only 60 minutes, so I figured, what the hell.

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strangers-by-the-lake-it-contains-real-sex

It’s refreshing to see a gay film this frankly erotic (if I could sit through Blue is the Warmest Color, straight people can sit through this), and it’s effective at creating a sinister atmosphere, but there comes a turn in the story after which I didn’t buy a moment that followed. The protagonist’s decisions ceased to make sense to me, and I kept waiting for the film to reconcile that, but it never did, so I left frustrated and unsatisfied.

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venus in fur

I was surprised by how much I liked this, especially after how much I disliked Roman Polanski‘s stage-to-screen adaptation of “Carnage.”

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