In Review: Incredibles 2

Time has not diminished Pixar’s beloved superhero family. Fourteen years after their debut, Incredibles 2 arrives as spry and genuinely thrilling as to suggest they never left. As superhero stories have begun to feel strained and perfunctory, this is not to be underestimated. Proving anew why the first installment is one of the most exciting superhero films of the modern era, this sequel is why we show up to these movies. It’s not just like The Incredibles ever left, but we forget how dull these movies have become while we watch it.

Picking up shortly after the first film, we’re also spared the now-common narrative of watching a group we’re familiar with deal with later stages. Instead, this chapter is more of a reversal of the first but with the characters as they already were. Elastigirl is now rightfully, as she always truly was, the best and coolest damn hero of the family.

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In Review: The Seagull

What happens when you truncate a classic in both narrative and spirit? In the case of Michael Mayer’s adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull, the result is a rather meddlesome inertia. One of the foundational pieces for the modern global theatre, Chekhov’s play has resonated throughout the past century for its depth in depicting the ultimately tragic myopias of its large ensemble of characters. While this version is often lovely, it’s more of a revisit than a fresh take.

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In Review: First Reformed

In a year where so many films have plumbed the depths of dire mental health to visceral effect – Annihilation, Tully, and even Hereditary – perhaps the most punishing of them all is Paul Schrader’s First Reformed. Placing us squarely into the devolving headspace of Ethan Hawke’s tormented priest, Schrader’s film is a battering ram to the body and the spirit. But where those other films gaze into the abyss and find some semblance of an answer, First Reformed finds only deeper and deeper emptiness. It’s grim stuff, but it’s also convincingly profound.

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In Review: Disobedience

The saying “you can never go home again” means something different for queer folks. At best, our formative communities and family units still carry the feeling of before and after we became someone else. For those of harsher reality, a return brings it’s own consequences, a reckoning of lingering past, anxious present, and uncertain future. If this person is permitted to return at all.

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In Disobedience, the latter is closer to the truth for Ronit, a photographer and former member of an enclosed conservative Jewish community, played with tense reserve by Rachel Weisz. Her return is prompted by the funeral of her strict father to which she was estranged, but the real coming home is to her former trio unit with the doting Dovid (Alessandro Nivola) and Esti (Rachel McAdams). Dovid has risen in the ranks of the Orthodoxy as a rabbi and Esti is now his wife, creating odd maneuverability around what their group has been and how it has changed.

But the meaningful glances between Ronit and Esti tell us all we need to know about this repressed shared past. And yet the palpability of the unspoken brews questions upon questions for us until they can now more stifle themselves behind their darting eyes and hesitant sentences.

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In Review: Terminal

“Margot Robbie. Your pulp didn’t pop, and your Sin City femme fatale was not a sin-sation. You’re safe.”

Several things are certain with the Margot Robbie-starring pulp thriller Terminal. First, Robbie and the film are largely in drag – as a femme fatale for the star, and the movie itself as a hyper-designed genre piece. Second, it’s not always good drag but a hoot nonetheless. Third, it’s essentially only Robbie that emerges unscathed. RuPaul and Frank Miller wouldn’t be upset, just disappointed.

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