Promising Young Woman (2020)

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A young woman haunted by a tragedy in her past takes revenge on the predatory men unlucky enough to cross her path. (Letterboxd)
A fascinating mix of (butt)cheeky feminist satire, incredibly tense vigilante thrills, and complex character drama (Mulligan chews licorice and scenery). Questions of justice and forgiveness are tackled at each level within an unpredictable, detailed narrative (see the contrast in address-procuring between Jordan and Ryan). Not everything works (Ryan’s turn felt a bit unfounded; just the “happy” wedding would have been a more impactful ending) but the whole remains compelling. Great soundtrack.
7.5/10 (Really Good)

Private Life (2018)

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An author is undergoing multiple fertility therapies to get pregnant, putting her relationship with her husband on edge. (IMDb)
Almost perfectly crafted (the titles were unnecessary), with thoughtful music and camerawork (the handheld sequences were a nice touch), great turns (the main trio is magnetic), and a beautiful script (see the many beginning/end parallels) that naturally capture all the awkwardness, beauty, and pain not just of fertility treatments but of family, marriage, and growing up/old. Some threads are left hanging (see Sadie’s “our baby” comment), but that’s the way life goes (see the cliffhanger end).
8.5/10 (Amazing)

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

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On the outskirts of Whoville lives a green, revenge-seeking Grinch (Jim Carrey) who plans to ruin Christmas for all of the citizens of the town. (IMDb)
Giving the Grinch a backstory and making the Whos materialistic and snobby creates an interesting new dynamic but it means the mountaintop climax where the Grinch learns the meaning of Christmas misses the mark entirely: it was the Whos alone who needed redemption for their consumerism and fear-mongering; the Grinch just needed some love (and speaking of, the Cindy-Lou/Grinch relationship is a cute one). The film looks pretty bad, but Carrey’s wisecracking, slapstick schtick is fun as always.
6.5/10 (Alright)

 

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015)

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High schooler Greg, who spends most of his time making parodies of classic movies with his co-worker Earl, finds his outlook forever altered after befriending a classmate who has just been diagnosed with cancer. (IMDb)
Beautiful and uniquely shot cinematography (with good music) and an engaging narrated story set-up (with its fair share of quirky characters–see Offerman’s oddball dad) set a nice tone for this indie flick that does falter slightly in its storytelling (see Greg’s weakly justified narration lie, him and Earl’s unfounded fallout, the slightly dragged out ending), but some poignant time-passing montages and climactic scenes (the hospital film viewing, Greg exploring Rachel’s room) do wonders.
7.5/10 (Really Good)