Sorry to bother you (2018)

Overwhelmingly brazen, surprising, messy, and hilarious – this left-eyed social satire is anything but subtle, incessantly clobbering the viewer with class and race issues!

Entertaining political romp about choosing the right path, but too simplistic for my book of activist equisapiens. Bonus points for nice nods to other movies, though.

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Der Student von Prag (1926)

Splendidly shot with gorgeous tableaux, highly expressive faces, and suggestive cross-cutting (though sometimes also confusing, repeatedly breaking the 180° rule for no apparent reason).

The storytelling is painfully slow, however, making it quite an ordeal to sit through more than two hours of poverty, greed, fencing, manifest reflections, unhappy love, and general suffering.

Draining and rewarding, both emotionally and intellectually. Not in my book of diabolical italians with supernatural powers.

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Fruitvale Station (2013)

Hampered by past choices and trying to start anew despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles – an inevitable recipe for success in a more conventional movie. Here, however, other inevitabilities are at work: poverty, racism, and fatal amounts of bad luck.

Questions of truthfulness are also inevitable, especially in a work based on controversial real events. Ryan Cogler’s much-lauded directorial debut tries harder to honor its protagonist than to tell the story with a strong dramaturgical loop. Combined with real footage, this adds a documentary touch in stark contrast to certain events that are rather hard to believe.

Powerful and soft, tense and relaxed, true and false, clear and muddled. Not in my undecided book.

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Crazy rich Asians (2018)

Ridiculously oldfashioned romcom/melodrama in stern defense of capable women, true love, and western individualism.

Decent entertainment with flawed logic, loose ends, and pointless subplots. Probably not in my book of family gatherings.

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기생충 [Parasite] (2019)

A Korean Upstairs Downstairs – literally! Intelligent, entertaining, harsh, ironic, and full of surprises.

No bad guys and still plenty of drama. Maybe in my book of family, fraud, fallacies, and feelings.

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The greatest showman (2017)

True or false? That really is the question regarding this synthetic-looking and heavily fictionalized musical biopic about the early days of infamous circus tycoon P. T. Barnum.

Far too simplistic, and actually a bit bland despite all the glitz. Not in my book of dream-chasing.

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Von morgens bis mitternachts (1920)

Throwing it all away for lust and money. Renowned for its experimental expressionist look, this odd combination of Caligari and Dogville æsthetics offers slight explanation for its bizarre visuals.

Far too slow, and still not much of a story to talk about – only a vain search for passion. Not in my book of life and death.

»You alone have stood by me!«

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Witness for the prosecution (1957)

Clever, complex, convoluted, contrived, cruel, comic – and criminally charming – courtroom cinema.

The cast appears to have a ball with the massive amounts of wittiness and complications. Highly entertaining if not very believable – maybe in my book of twist ends.

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Side effects (2013)

Fake or real, chance or plan, friend or foe, victim or perpetrator? Rooney Mara excels as the enigmatic focal point of this aptly titled – and quite Hitchcockian – tale about unknown, unexpected, and unwanted consequences.

Neat satirical jabs at Big Pharma, but as a whole this is both too unlikely and too simplistic for my book of drug-induced, criminally inclined mental disorder.

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Elbowing (1979)

Short and to the point, even though some details are unnecessarily hard to decipher.

Nice take on herd mentality, but a bit too lightweight for my book of anarchy.

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