Author: Olivia Rutigliano

Film Review: If Beale Street Could Talk

Barry Jenkins’s If Beale Street Could Talk is a gorgeous, devastating watercolor of a film, so simultaneously ethereal and tangible that it will ache inside you long after you leave the theater. It is the swelling of your heart, but also the lump in your throat. It is about memory and dreams, as they encounter a reality that sometimes feels so hopeful but is revealed to be uncompromisingly unfair and skewed. It is about being black and young in America; feeling so full of potential and ambitions, but caught inside an antiquated and violent system of racist restriction. The...

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Film Review: Vice

Vice is a loud, long, exhausting movie about the political career and aggressive corruption of Dick Cheney, a Lord of Misrule in American government so unbelievably, boundlessly, cartoonishly evil in real life that history might always be in danger of fielding accusations that it has embellished or fictionalized him in retrospect. The canyons of Cheney’s wickedness are well-suited for satirical condemnation, and Adam McKay, the filmmaker behind The Big Short, the recent frenetic and didactic portrait of the 2008 financial crisis, seems enthusiastic about taking Cheney to task. McKay certainly pulls no punches in his indictment, but there are...

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Film Review: Roma

Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, which is available to stream on Netflix, is a striking, painstaking panorama of life during one year or so in a wealthy Mexico City household, from 1970 to 1971. I say “panorama” to describe a film whose narrative structure emphasizes length, because the film itself is about space rather than time. It is about community, confinement, freedom, proximity, distance, class, districts, family, strangers, staircases, oceans, sky, travel, home, movement, stillness, change, stasis, walls, plains, city and country. It is about where we are from and why we have left. It is about how far we go...

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Film Review: The Old Man and the Gun

The Old Man and the Gun, a winsome, sometimes-sepia-tinted fable about a kindly, elderly bank robber, is apparently based on a true story, but it’s also an homage to the cinematic career of its star, Robert Redford. Like Forrest Tucker (the film’s eponymous Old Man, a serial prison-escapee who keeps returning to a life of politely-executed hold-ups), Redford has been deep in his own racket for a long time. The film enjoys reminding you of these parallels between the character and the actor. In one charming, archival-ish montage, the not-bored-anymore detective on Forrest’s trail, John Hunt (a groggy Casey...

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Film Review: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

The new film from Joel and Ethan Coen, called The Ballad of Buster Scruggs and available to stream on Netflix, is an anthology of six vignettes about life in the Old West. Each story stands alone—the only apparent link between them is that they are presented as the different parts of an antique compendium of the same name: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, and Other Tales of the American Frontier, with Color Plates. The film’s first shot is this worn volume, and each tale begins and ends with the camera’s fading back to the book, whose pages have been...

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