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Penguin Bloom

It sounds painfully mawkish if not downright implausible on the page: a woman, paralyzed from the chest down in a freak accident, finds hope and determination in caring for an injured bird. The parallels would be too forced; the symbolism, too obvious. But despite its feel-good formula, “Penguin Bloom” still manages to inspire and impress,…

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Sundance 2021: 12 Films We Can’t Wait to See

This year’s Sundance Film Festival (running January 28 – February 3) is a little bittersweet, as you might imagine. The good: Bathrooms have never been more accessible during festival time, and every viewer has a better shot at getting a good seat, instead of scurrying for the ones on the aisle inside the festival’s “cozy” Library Theater (sigh, I already miss…

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The Little Things

Movies like “The Little Things” feel like a vanishing breed. In the wake of the success of “The Silence of the Lambs,” there seemed to be a dark, brooding thriller adaptation every week with titles like “Kiss the Girls” and “The Bone Collector,” and it felt like half of them starred Denzel Washington. In recent…

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Caged

The claustrophobic prison movie “Caged” begins with its most original and upsetting scene: wrongfully convicted prisoner Harlow Reid (Edi Gathegi) calls and fails to get through to his lawyer right before he’s forced into solitary confinement. The camera pushes in on Harlow slowly as he, standing between two sets of guard doors, learns that his…

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Outlines: A Queer Reading of Some Silhouettes

The women behind the murderesses of the Cook County Jail are both strikingly nondescript and yet embody an easily recognizable archetype. Almost costumes of femininity, exaggerated like a drag queen, a siren-like light illuminating them from behind, outlining the bars behind which they stand and pose, these ladies’ aesthetics of gender are heightened despite the…

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Resident Alien Blends Humor, Heart into Effective Escapism

At its best, SyFy’s “Resident Alien” reminded me of the folksy charm of “Northern Exposure,” one of my favorite dramedies of all time. The writing isn’t quite of that caliber—it too often goes for easy character beats instead of nuanced storytelling—but this is a consistently likable show at a time when people could use something…

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