In Review: Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

2008’s Mamma Mia! was somewhat defiant in its shrugging off of the demands of self-serious audiences, presenting an escape from the evils of mundanity, logic, and pretension. It wasn’t something to wrap your head around, for in its haphazard lunacy it delivered tenfold precisely the ecstasy that its audience requested. Now ten years later, such escapism isn’t a mere trifle but a necessary antidote to ensure our sanity and survival. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, its slightly more sedated sequel, is like a soda administered during a diabetic collapse.

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In Review: Leave No Trace

Director Debra Granik returns to narrative features with something fairly akin to her Oscar-nominated thriller Winter’s Bone with the moving family drama Leave No Trace. As she had previously, Granik examines family dynamics and the hardships of caregiving for people on the outside fringes of American society. The system doesn’t help her characters, but they still manage and maneuver around its confines. The most distinct similarity between the films is that they feature a stellar debut from a young actress, this time with Thomasin McKenzie in an understated and entirely absorbing performance.

But to just reduce this new film to overly simplistic comparisons is to misread the holistic heart of Granik’s newest effort. Leave No Trace has more emotional aims, and much more to observe about the limitations we (as individuals and as a larger society) to care for one another.

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In Review: Boundaries

There are plenty of familiar notes to Shana Feste’s Boundaries and they are all handily welcomed as an antidote to less soothing things on our movie screens. Or you know, the real world. This is a movie replenish yourself with, perhaps soak up a little vitamin D from its sunny positivity, enjoy the breeze. Even the cliched can be a comfort by delivering only what you demand of it.

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In Review: Ant-Man and The Wasp

Ant-Man and The Wasp is a return to delightful form for Marvel’s oddly dismissed micro-macro-superhero, reassembling the crew from 2015’s joyful original that was still plagued with behind the scenes turnover. The smooth sailing this time makes for a breezy ride of simple pleasures, particularly in contrast to the high-stakes of the summer’s Avengers: Infinity War extravaganza of grimness. Ant-Man and his cohorts were conspicuously missing from those events, explained here by a house arrest sentence after he took part in the mishegoss of Captain America: Civil War.

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In Review: Whitney

In a rare moment of quiet solitude in Kevin Macdonald’s Whitney, the embattled Whitney Houston sits alone at an empty bar. Normally surrounded by a large family of handlers, not to mention an aggressive press apparatus, it’s strange to see the singer alone to herself. Softly, she sings a few notes of “Run to You” under her breath. Smoking her cigarette, we sense in her body language that being alone is as unnatural to her as it is in our perception of her.

Or maybe she just feels us watching her. At once, the disquieting layers of the punishing gauntlet of our unfeeling media circus become cuttingly human.

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