Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)

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Follows a group of high school students growing up in southern California. (Letterboxd)
Falls prey to the gross guy’s perspective a few times (see the casual homophobia, teen boobs fantasy, the “bro code” being more important than the girl’s well-being), but not as often as I feared thanks to its loose, authentic-feeling storytelling and a few moments of surprising depth (see Brad picking up Stacy). Brad’s job woes and Spicoli ordering pizza to history class are two comedic highlights (“Just what in the hell do you think you’re doing?” “Eating some food, learning about Cuba”).
6.5/10 (Alright)

Greenberg (2010)

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A man from Los Angeles, who moved to New York years ago, returns to L.A. to figure out his life while he house-sits for his brother. He soon sparks with his brother’s assistant. (IMDb)
The “slice of life”-type dramedy is nailed by everyone involved here: Achingly authentic scenarios (see Greenberg with bitter Beller; his date with Beth) are played out with perfect dialogue, strong turns from the whole cast, and smart edits (see Greenberg catching up at Beller’s party). Stiller’s uptight lead is loveably cynical (“Life is wasted on people”) and complimented perfectly by Ifans’ chill Ivan and Gerwig’s far-from-one-note-romantic interest who has her own share of issues.
7.5/10 (Really Good)

Annihilation (2018)

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A biologist signs up for a dangerous, secret expedition where the laws of nature don’t apply. (IMDb)
Ultimately unhelpful flash-forwards and -backs mar an otherwise immersive (viscerally more than intellectually–the ending didn’t satisfy) sci-fi experience initiated by the haunting homecoming scene early on: solid turns, an intense score, and monumental visuals carry the film from spooky (see the first wake-up) to grisly (see the bear attack; stomach cut) to weird (see the trippy cave scene), with just an unforgettable sense of “WTF is going on!?” (both in awe and terror) pervading it all.
7.5/10 (Really Good)

 

Anomalisa (2015)

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A man crippled by the mundanity of his life experiences something out of the ordinary. (IMDb)
Breathtaking in its combination of down-to-earth detail (see the lovingly crafted stop-motion animation, authentic dialogue) and a calm, patient pace (see the long cab ride, trip up the elevator, walk to the ice machine), which, in a marvelously ironic way, celebrate with refreshing realism (see the sex scene) the inevitability of and the beauty that can be found in the mundane while following a lead who only wants to get away from it (the repeated voice symbolized the antagonist(s) perfectly).
9/10 (Amazing)