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Maggie Gyllenhaal shines in The Kindergarten Teacher, even as the script hobbles her efforts Maggie Gyllenhaal shines in The Kindergarten Teacher, even as the script hobbles her efforts

In The Kindergarten Teacher, Maggie Gyllenhaal stars as Lisa Spinelli, attentive educator by day, wannabe artist by night. She has a nice house in the suburbs, a loving husband (Michael Chernus), two kids in high school (Daisy Tahan and Sam Jules) who are thriving despite their teenage ambivalence toward everything,…

In Free Solo, thrilling climb footage fights for time with pat psychologizing In Free Solo, thrilling climb footage fights for time with pat psychologizing

Alex Honnold is a climber, but not the ordinary kind: He free solo climbs extremely high, very dangerous big walls. Free soloing is a form of climbing that entails scaling a surface alone and without the assistance of any protective equipment. There is essentially no margin of error in free solo ascents; any mistake…

Keira Knightley’s charms fail to save the timely, tepid biopic Colette Keira Knightley’s charms fail to save the timely, tepid biopic Colette

The life of French novelist Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, better known as simply Colette, feels tailor-made for a biopic in 2018. Her first four novels—the Claudine series, about a French girl’s coming-of-age—were released at the turn of the century to acclaim and mild scandal, especially among the Parisian elite. Yet…

Peter Dinklage and Elle Fanning spin their wheels in the hollow post-apocalyptic drama I Think We’re Alone Now Peter Dinklage and Elle Fanning spin their wheels in the hollow post-apocalyptic drama I Think We’re Alone Now

For the first 15 or so minutes of I Think We’re Alone Now, the sophomore feature from acclaimed The Handmaid’s Tale director Reed Morano, Peter Dinklage walks around a desolate small town cleaning up after the apocalypse. He enters abandoned homes, collects batteries and family pictures, disposes of skeletal remains,…

Disenchantment closes out its first season with a major betrayal and a destructive cliffhanger Disenchantment closes out its first season with a major betrayal and a destructive cliffhanger

“Chapter X: Dreamland Falls” is an episode whose power derives from the knowledge that Disenchantment is playing a card that can only be dealt once. It’s not just an “all hope is lost” finale, but it’s also an “every character is either dead, doomed, or lost” finale. Disenchantment exists in a world where death isn’t…

Disenchantment returns to Elfwood and reveals Zøg's true motives in a muted episode Disenchantment returns to Elfwood and reveals Zøg's true motives in a muted episode

“Chapter IX: To Thine Own Elf Be True” takes place immediately after the events of “Chapter VIII” with Bean, Elfo, Luci, and Sorcerio returning to Dreamland with the Eternity Pendant. The one problem, because of course there’s one problem? It doesn’t work. Sorcerio takes a drop of Elfo’s blood and places it in the…

Bean embarks on adventure for immortality (and Elfo) on a rollicking Disenchantment Bean embarks on adventure for immortality (and Elfo) on a rollicking Disenchantment

This season, Disenchantment has done a good job of introducing macro serialized elements without much labored narrative table setting. First, there’s Zøg’s quest to drain Elfo of blood for the Elixir of Life, which the show has mostly treated as a background gag but now has returned for a full-fledged storyline. Then,…

Elfo's fake giant girlfriend attends the Royal Ball on a love-themed Disenchantment Elfo's fake giant girlfriend attends the Royal Ball on a love-themed Disenchantment

If there’s one major problem with “Chapter VII: Love’s Tender Rampage,” it’s that the central premise has been done to death. It’s a sitcom staple as old as time: The resident loser lies about having a girlfriend to avoid feeling embarrassed in front of his friends only to feel more embarrassed, yet humbled, when the…

Disenchantment tells a sweet father-daughter story set against shaky diplomatic relations  Disenchantment tells a sweet father-daughter story set against shaky diplomatic relations 

“Chapter VI: Swamp and Circumstance” finally explores the mythology of Disenchantment by examining the relationship between Dreamland and the neighboring swamp kingdom of Dankmire. In short, Dreamland forced Dankmire to build a canal connecting the two territories, and then Dreamland and Dankmire fought a 100-year war…

A dull, inconsequential Disenchantment features a fight to the death with Hansel and Gretel A dull, inconsequential Disenchantment features a fight to the death with Hansel and Gretel

In “Chapter IV,” Disenchantment hung a lampshade on the flexibility of their fantasy world via a stranger who complains about the lack of hard-and-fast rules in Dreamland. It’s almost as if the writer were priming the audience for “Chapter V: Faster, Princess! Kill! Kill!” in which Disenchantment further breaks from…

Bean throws a party and Elfo plays "Nice Guy" on a solid Disenchantment Bean throws a party and Elfo plays "Nice Guy" on a solid Disenchantment

On Futurama, Fry’s romantic interest in Leela was a series-long arc. Though it eventually culminated in their coupling, the established pattern was Fry would hit on her or ask her out, she would reject his advances, he wouldn’t listen and continue to pursue her, rinse and repeat. Some of these storylines haven’t aged…

Disenchantment improves in its second episode with the help of Walrus Island Disenchantment improves in its second episode with the help of Walrus Island

A marked improvement on the pilot, “Chapter II: For Whom The Pig Oinks” features Disenchantment’s first great joke premise: Mermaid Island and Walrus Island are right next to each other, and since walrus calls sound eerily like a siren song, wayward sailors flock to their deaths at the hands of tusked mammals instead…

Matt Groening's new Netflix series Disenchantment gets off to a rocky start Matt Groening's new Netflix series Disenchantment gets off to a rocky start

It makes a certain amount of sense that Matt Groening’s third TV series would be Disenchantment. If The Simpsons tackles our heightened present through the eyes of a dysfunctional nuclear family, and Futurama skewered an imagined future influenced by the whims of 20th century science fiction, then Disenchantment …

Skateboarding is an escape, but not a solution, for the traumatized subjects of Minding The Gap Skateboarding is an escape, but not a solution, for the traumatized subjects of Minding The Gap

Director Bing Liu intimately understands how skateboarding represents a community and an escape. As a teen, Liu shot countless amateur skate videos with his friends, capturing how the sport bonds disparate youths together, crossing racial and social lines (but, crucially, not economic ones, at least in his hometown of…

Brockmire’s second season promised booze but delivered medicine Brockmire’s second season promised booze but delivered medicine

In television, sometimes the most daring move is not to give the people what they want. During the back run of The Sopranos, when the series netted its highest audience share, creator David Chase deliberately piled anticlimax onto anticlimax and eschewed mob mechanics for dysfunctional family drama, inevitably…

Wannabe punks meet real aliens in the vapid Neil Gaiman adaptation How To Talk To Girls At Parties Wannabe punks meet real aliens in the vapid Neil Gaiman adaptation How To Talk To Girls At Parties

How To Talk To Girls At Parties, John Cameron Mitchell’s fourth feature and first in seven years, tries to be many, many things. It’s a coming-of-age tale about wading through the murky waters of adolescent sexuality. It’s a painfully sincere love story between a sensitive boy and a mysterious girl from out of town…

Intimacy divides a young couple in the effective Ian McEwan adaptation On Chesil Beach Intimacy divides a young couple in the effective Ian McEwan adaptation On Chesil Beach

Ian McEwan’s 2007 novella On Chesil Beach, about a young couple’s disastrous honeymoon in southern England circa 1962, presents a classic adaptation problem: The book runs less than 40,000 words, the prose largely examines the characters’ interiority, and the majority of the action takes place over the course of an…

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