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FILM / The Tale: What Fox’s Narrative Structure Can Teach Us About Writing True Stories / Laura Valeri

In one of the most brilliant and revealing moments in this exquisite use of the technique, the 13-year-old Jennifer tries to persuade her 48 years-old self that she was in control of that relationship the entire time. The 13-year old claims that breaking up with Billy, who continued to write her for years afterwards, proves that she was not a victim. She casts herself as master of her own fate.

FILM / On the 30th Anniversary of My Obsession with Midnight Run / Michael Green

In the movie’s major turning point, set on a freight train, Jack finally admits that he’s stuck in the past because he can’t let go of his loved ones, even though they let him go long before. Jack Walsh in an empty box car moving through the desert at night, confronting the enormity of his grief, regret, and loneliness, became the movie’s central moment for me.

100 WORD FILM REVIEWS / Welcome to Marwen

Buried beneath one of the most shockingly bad Hollywood movies in years is one of Steve Carell’s best performances. Welcome to Marwen has a lot of good people behind it. Co-screenwriter Caroline Thompson has a track record which includes The Nightmare Before Christmas, Edward Scissorhands, and the 1993 version of Secret Garden. Robert Zemeckis, who co-wrote and directed the movie, is justifiably considered a legend. Yet somehow, despite the odds, Welcome to Marwen is one of the most depressingly bad movies in recent memory. It’s ineptitude on virtually every level is almost surreal. This thought is made all the worse by the realization that it’s one of the dullest movies in recent memory, as well.

100 WORD FILM REVIEW / First Man

If The Revenant qualifies for “nature porn,” then First Man is the logical extension of Blade Runner 2049: “Ryan Gosling Porn—in Space!” When the camera isn’t focused on Gosling’s helmeted face, it’s on CGI constructions that suck the life out of this zero-gravity biopic. This occasionally engaging special effects extravaganza is pretty to look at, but mostly absent of the soul-stirring emotion that fueled Apollo 13 and Hidden Figures. Whereas director Damien Chazelle showed promise with his debut Whiplash, his latest feature fits into a pattern of dressed up homages to Hollywood’s past and doesn’t even qualify as revisionist history.

100 WORD FILM REVIEW / The Wailing

The Wailing (2016, dir. Hong-jin Na) has a brutal, naked approach to horror: the blundering confusion & fright in supernatural circumstances lends a realism to each actor’s performance. Hwan-hee Kim spookily portrays Hyu-jin, a sick child whose ominous illness drives her father, a detective named Jong-goo [Do-won Kwak], to desperation. Kwak shakes, scrambles, cries, & fumes as Jong-goo, whose increasingly reckless bumbles felt relatable as I grasped at theories, not knowing who to trust. The Wailing has just enough gore, tingly suspense, & and an ending that left me guessing how slight the edge is between safety & grizzly death.

100 WORD FILM REVIEWS/ A Star is Born

The best portions of A Star is Born play out more or less like the film’s well-edited trailer: fast-paced, gorgeously photographed scenes set against emotional tunes. But once past the moment in which Gaga gets her big break (a scene which is a contender for the very best of 2018) the movie settles into rote Behind the Music cliché. Cooper is better than he’s ever been, and shows great promise as a director. Gaga is, as ever, playing for the back row in every scene, whether she’s singing or acting. I’ll leave you to work out if that’s a compliment.