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  • New York Stories 1989

    ★★★ Rewatched 04 Sep, 2014

    (only watched Oedipus Wrecks, sssshhhh)

  • Mindscape 2013

    ★★ Watched 15 Jun, 2014

    When the memory-detective protagonist of Anna informs his eponymous charge, the sixteen year-old daughter of a wealthy family who’s suddenly refused to eat, that the movie’s chief technological conceit “doesn’t work like that”, it’s telling that he never offers an explanation as to how it does work. Don’t let the plot hole brigade fool you: all the average viewer asks of a film is that it follow some interior logic of its own; in resolutely refusing to set one out,…

  • Rigor Mortis 2013

    ★★★ Watched 15 Jun, 2014

    “We will use crow’s blood instead of chicken blood” is one of the less weird lines casually uttered in the course of Rigor Mortis, a movie as mad as any we’re likely to see this year. There is a suicide scene that becomes a mental montage of otherworldly imagery; there is a glut of glutinous rice and there may be a vampire hunter; there is a rotting body being kept fresh in a bath; there is a building that could…

  • A Coffee in Berlin 2012

    ★★★★ Rewatched 16 Jun, 2014

    As if itself inviting the assured Allen comparisons that equally abounded in considerations of its close cousin Frances Ha, A Coffee in Berlin concludes with a montage of city sights that’s straight out of Manhattan. But it’s not only to acknowledge inspirations that debut director Jan Ole Gerster gives the German capital the same treatment Woody reserved for New York: it’s telling that his equivalent occurs at the end of the film, and if Allen’s movie was staked on a…

  • I'll Follow You Down 2013

    ★★ Watched 14 Jun, 2014

    Gillian Anderson deserves an Oscar for the restraint she shows in not turning to the camera and winking into the lens as she tells her on-screen husband in I’ll Follow You Down to call her when he lands. As she and their son fade into a soft-focus background blur, the score soaring with emotions it urges you to feel, you will earn no points for knowing he won’t. Richie Mehta’s new movie is predictable in a way no time-travel story…

  • Jersey Boys 2014

    ★★★½ Watched 16 Jun, 2014

    “That’s a nice colour for you,” smiles Frankie Valli at his wife-to-be, “you should always wear that.” If you tune your ear just right, you can hear the Eastwood detractors’ pencils sharpening. With Jersey Boys, his thirty-third feature film as director, he has made a Clint Eastwood movie, and it’s a fool that takes that for a bad thing. In that unmistakeable piano-tinkling and the underlit aesthetic that thrives in the shadows, there is the authorial mark of a master…

  • Trust Me 2013

    ★★½ Watched 12 Jun, 2014

    His hand extended out enticingly from the Trust Me poster, no matter the battered state of his face, few could fault you for obliging Clark Gregg. He’s one of those affable independent filmmakers who’s smartly taken the MCU blockbuster bosom as a springboard; here he’s used his Coulson cachet to follow-up his directorial debut, 2008’s Chuck Palahniuk adaptation Choke, with another satirically-streaked pseudo-comedy satire. But if the conceit of sex addiction felt slightly beyond Gregg’s grasp, the machinations of the…

  • Poarta Alba

    ★★★ Added

    It’s the great pleasure of the festival experience to see the unfiltered idealism of movies that may never make it beyond the circuit hand-in-hand with the ironclad assurance of yesteryear’s classics. And just as Structure of Crystal offered an old-school corrective to the (minor) misgivings of Quod Erat Demonstrandum, so too was prison camp drama Poarta Albă showed up by the similar and superior The Boxer and Death. The point, of course, isn’t to diminish the worth of contemporary efforts—it’s…

  • The Structure of Crystals 1969

    ★★★★ Watched 07 Jun, 2014

    Capsule review from my Transylvania Film Fest coverage at Next Projection

    But if Solan started the final day with a bang, it was Krzysztof Zanussi who ensured it, and the fest, didn’t end with a whimper. He had the benefit of being here in person, of course, and oh what a presence he is: the Polish master, whose The Illumination and The Constant Factor were highlights for me in the currently-touring Scorsese-curated series—not to mention a sure influence on the…

  • The Boxer and Death 1963

    ★★★★ Watched 07 Jun, 2014

    Capsule review from my Transylvania Film Fest coverage at Next Projection

    Competition screenings concluded and the Romanian Days efforts reliably covered by my colleagues (read their ongoing work here), I jumped at the chance to seek out more Solan on the festival’s penultimate day, and alas my last. To The Boxer and Death it was, then, a curious combination of the concentration camp and sporting films that finds a rhythm in the latter’s generic beats before hitting below the belt—did…

  • Quod erat demonstrandum 2013

    ★★★½ Added

    Capsule review from my Transylvania Film Fest coverage at Next Projection

    Staying with both black and white and Romanian Days for the section’s sole competition crossover Quod Erat Demonstrandum, the day’s third film to tackle the communist legacy—what a triple bill!—and inarguably the most distinctive in how. Symmetry and shadow are par for the course in Andrei Gruzsniczki’s aesthetic, which implies both age and oppression with its colour-drained imagery. It’s impressive the drama he mines from the piece, given its…

  • Poarta Alba

    ★★★ Watched 06 Jun, 2014

    Capsule review from my Transylvania Film Fest coverage at Next Projection

    Less commercially viable, if no great deal less worthy of the attention, was another Romanian Days offering to deal with the past: Poarta Albă, from veteran helmer Nicolae Mărgineanu, delves into the largely forgotten tale of the Danube-Black Sea canal’s construction by labour camp detainees, often imprisoned for no great crime at all. It’s two such men we meet in the film’s opening scene, aiming to flee the country…