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Iron Man 2 (2010)::rating::2.5
Weak sauce sequel tries and fails to replicate the recipe of the original: Tony Stark (RDJ) is a known quantity as Iron Man, which turns out to be more blessing than curse. Crazy Russian scientist (Mickey Rourke, deploying John Malkovich's accent from Rounders) turns up for revenge. The Feds turn up for Tony's suit. Meanwhile,…
Iron Man (2008)::rating::3.5
For all the world-building and king-making done here, Marvel’s Mayflower voyage into cinematic domination is really just a pretty good movie.  And much of that is due to the strength of Downey Jr., who makes the deadlifting of a movie star look easy.  Everything else about it is engaging and well-done enough, um—serviceable, that’s the…
Iron Man (2008)::rating::3.5
Smartass billionaire Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) gets taken hostage by ISIS-type group, becomes titular superhero in order to escape. Rollicking action saga boots up the MCU, but also does just dandy on its lonesome. RDJ remakes the lead character in his own image, and keeps it that way for about twenty more movies. Director…
Pulp Fiction (1994)::rating::5
Quentin Tarantino’s masterpiece bears the off-kilter zeal of a crazed saucier–the kind of Creole kitchen-dweller who uses two teaspoons of Marsala for the recipe, then drinks the rest straight from the bottle.  From Akira Kurosawa to Arthur Penn, from Buddy Holly’s rock nerdery to James Dean’s leather-jacket cool—just about any pertinent pop culture reference gets…
Good Ol’ Freda (2013)::rating::3.5
Rock history is replete with well-intentioned superstars who chose to people their inner circle with blood-sucking sycophants.  Elvis had his Memphis Mafia, a nasty little cadre of shitkickers who strip-mined Presley’s well-known generosity and contributed heavily to his emotional and physical disintegration.  And though possessed of a greater sense of savvy, the Beatles were no less vulnerable…
Vertigo (1958)::rating::0
  Vertigo is an odd, elliptical masterpiece that manages to somehow embody Alfred Hitchcock’s cinematic eccentricities and yet stand apart from the rest of his sprawling filmography.  It covers his familiar terrain of obsession and death (and his fetish for platinum blondes with icy dispositions) but is defined and distinguished by a melancholic fog that hangs densely…
Terror in Beverly Hills (1989)::rating::0
  No sense in dancing around it:  This movie sucks deep-fried donkeys.  The cinematography makes the Zapruder film look like Trip to Bountiful.  The monotonic soundtrack conjures the image of a twitching Pomeranian in fitful sleep atop a Casio keyboard.    The performances, the editing, and the writing—they all land in the weeds, too.  Even the clouds…

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