In Review!: “Blade Runner 2049”

Much has changed in the futuristic world of replicants and blade runners, but as ever in the real world, destructive forces remain the same. Blade Runner 2049 takes up decades after Ridley Scott’s influential vision and gives us something glossier and just as morally intricate. Ryan Gosling’s Officer K discovers a mystery than ultimately puts him on the search for Harrison Ford’s Deckard, with the potential for earth-shattering consequences. This time, in the hands of director Denis Villeneuve, the epic elements are also a bit glacial.


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Hit Me With Your Best Shot!: “Working Girl”


You can see why Working Girl was a hit in its day – its emotional arc satisfies like a machine built to crank out warm fuzzies. It may not have the visual gravitas of Mike Nichols’s The Graduate, but similarly Nichols elevates the material to its full potential (even if Working Girl‘s ceiling is substantially lower). Melanie Griffith’s role is well suited to her unique balance of blue collar modesty and understated drive, playing directly to her natural abilities to star-making effect. Sigourney Weaver’s expressive subtlety is a great contrast, her directness merely a facade hiding deep insecurity and lack of self-awareness.

However, the film doesn’t hold up to contemporary scrutiny for its feminist intentions. Griffith’s Tess may be our hero, but the script is hell bent on treating her with pity rather than sympathy, defining her more by her foolishness than the gumption that makes her achieve her goals. As the villain, Weaver’s Katherine doesn’t fare much better. The actress is measured in making Katherine vapid, hilarious without tipping into farce. That lack of self-awareness is her downfall, for she’s as blind to her own patriarchal subjugation as she is to her ability for cruelty. The film is all too pleased to punish her when Weaver reveals her to be most vulnerable and human.

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In Review!: “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

With a crowd-rousing ferocity, Star Wars: The Force Awakens has arrived to the masses hopeful for its potential after a prequel trilogy has diminished the reputation of the long-beloved franchise, wanting to forget how creator George Lucas has driven his namesake into the ground. By the end of Awakens, that betrayal feels felt anew due to all that director JJ Abrams and his screenwriting crew of Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt have done to successfully right the ship, and also bucking disheartening trends in populist entertainment. If you’ve heard that this one is great, you haven’t been misled.


Bursting with spirit and emphasis on character, Awakens is remarkably satisfying entertainment – to those waiting for those massive crowds to die down: you simply must see this with a crowd. Enough to stir conversation in even the most typically ambivalent audience, we have here a crowd-pleaser aiming more for our hearts than our heartrates, and becomes all the more thrilling for its ability to invest us in its particulars. In an age where character and stakes take a further backseat to increasingly absurd, conxtext-free bombast (for which the Star Wars prequels take massive flak, with current examples like Jurassic World even more guilty than those lackluster films), Abrams’ film feels almost subversive in its steadfast focus on character to get us cheering. For a director often teased for his forcing his aesthetic unnecessarily, here he is sharply attuned to the needs of the narrative – unquestionably, his best work.

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