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Reader critic John Rubio has the Captain's chair today, and our first destination is...France! Land of wine, food, and conservative politicians in the middle of simultaneous messy divorces and political campaigns! Rubio says the film creates a "thematic paradox that is impressive to witness — the pith and spirit of the campaign tempered by the worry and conceit of the election itself." Whereupon the French take a long drag on their Gauloises and say, "But of course, monsieur - what deed you expect from zee French eef not paradox?" Two stars for The Conquest!

Next stop, CW-land: Beneath the Darkness (not to be confused with Nearby the Twilight) is a bad high-school horror flick with a script that "aims for juvenile banality and falls short of even that mark. At least everyone is pretty? Black spot!

Then it's back to France - maybe we never should have left? - for Tomboy, "a French meditation on the complexities of life for a gender-questioning youth." Our man is impressed. "It takes only a few minutes of running time to reveal that [the] initial shot is no fluke. We are in the hands of a masterful director, a craftsman of intriguing images and adroit angles. Note the double-frame shot through a doorway leading into a moment of family bonding, flanked with a vanishing effect of doorknob holes — visual genius, reminiscent of Yasujirô Ozu. There are too many impressive shots to mention." Four stars!

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