MIDSOMMAR: Brightly lit, darkly comic horror

Ari Aster’s second feature film is no Hereditary. In fact, it has more in common with Darren Aronofsky’s Mother! than it does his feature debut. Midsommar isn’t good or bad. It’s weak on metaphor and strong on hilarious WTF moments. It’s made with the stupid confidence of a man who’s been told he’s a genius, when he’s still just working to earn the label. Should you see it? Yes. But be prepared to hate it.

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The elusive, rapturous LAST BLACK MAN IN SAN FRANCISCO

It’s rare to hear a commercial audience cheer at the end of a drama, but that’s exactly what happened at my screening of The Last Black Man in San Francisco. To be sure, the film deserves an enthusiastic reaction. It’s gorgeously shot, with the cinematic flourishes you only see from a filmmaker with an innate understanding of the medium. But it’s the smaller moments—movie night with a blind father, a chance encounter with an estranged mother, friends who grew apart briefly finding each other again—that give this film life. And it does feel wonderfully alive, while not ignoring the complexities of the story it’s trying to tell.

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MAKING A MURDERER: An Engrossing, Overlong True Crime Saga


When’s the last time you sat around for 10 hours watching phone call transcripts and courtroom video? Unless you had CourtTV during the O.J. Simpson trial, never is probably the answer. Well, Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi’s Netflix documentary series Making a Murderer might just change all that. The streaming TV service’s first foray into true crime film is engrossing and infuriating, in spite of runtime that’s more about binge watching than storytelling.

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HOT GIRLS WANTED In A Cold, Cold World

Hot Girls Wanted is about as solid a documentary on the “amateur” porn industry and sex work as we could possibly expect. But I can’t really blame the filmmakers, even though I should. That statement says more about our culture and its relationship with sex and sex work than it does about the documentary, produced by Rashida Jones of Parks & Rec and distributed by Netflix. I could hate Hot Girls Wanted, but I don’t. I could be offended by it, but I’m not. Why? Because this was an opportunity that was so easy to miss that it’s hard to hold it against one single, softball movie.

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It’s Hard to Be Optimistic About TOMORROWLAND


I’ve never hated a movie as quickly as I hated Disney’s Tomorrowland. Maybe five minutes into the film, after a clumsy but otherwise benign opening, we’re thrust into the future past of star George Clooney’s younger self. Besides the fact that the child actor in question is immediately grating, the boy’s introduction to the world of dreamers known as Tomorrowland is filled with enough saccharine 60s nostalgia to make old Walt himself roll his eyes. From this whitewashed Space Age, we jump ahead to modern times where only The Secret can save our world. And that’s not as bad as it gets.

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