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  • The Band's Visit

    The Band's Visit 2007

    ★★½ Watched 28 Apr, 2016

    Exactly the sort of dour absurdism told almost entirely in mid-shot I'd have lapped up if caught at 2am on a Wednesday night foreign film TV slot ten years ago; now—older, wiser, infinitely more cynical—I can see the depoliticised drama for all its facile naïveté. Right down to the shared Arabic-Hebrew credits, this is wearyingly wistful stuff whose po-faced we-are-the-world simplicity does nobody any good.

  • Louder Than Bombs

    Louder Than Bombs 2015

    ★★★½ Watched 30 Apr, 2016

    There's a lot of curious commonalities here with Blind, co-writer Eskil Vogt's own recent directorial debut, in terms of perspective and narratology—both in the sense of the film's own storytelling and the way our outlook and the information we're privy to informs the narrative we create to explain our circumstances. It's structurally invigourating—subjecting us to an emotive dramatic irony as we leap from dream to memory, past to present, scene to scene—but, as with that earlier film, never quite employed…

  • Hail, Caesar!

    Hail, Caesar! 2016

    ★★★ Watched 14 Mar, 2016

    Smatterings of sublimity, as in the superb silliness of Ralph Fiennes and Alden Ehrenreich's dialect coaching, but it's all so scattershot I can't but wish this managed the comic coherence of Burn After Reading. I know, I know, it's part of the point that it doesn't, and there's some mischievous delight in the Coens' critic-baiting hints of mid-career malaise right after all too many writers wrote all too many words about Inside Llewyn Davis' ironic interest in failure; still, it…

  • Saint

    Saint 1996

    ★★★★ Watched 05 Mar, 2016

    Bold move for Bavo, treading on turf that's so specifically Jarman's, but between the charged eroticism of his imagery and the concise clarity of it all, he's more than earned the right to give us his twist on Sebastiane. There are a couple of shots here that are just plain hot, nicely suffusing a relatively simple persecution allegory with a BDSM-esque blasphemy that's decadent good fun. No wonder the festivals loved him.

  • Bridge of Spies

    Bridge of Spies 2015

    ★★½ Watched 31 Jan, 2016

    There's classicism, in art, and then there's conservatism.

  • Tokyo Godfathers

    Tokyo Godfathers 2003

    ★★★½ Watched 19 Jan, 2016

    If I don't dream tonight of the Eiffel Tower dancing to a funky Japanese update of Beethoven's 9th, I shall feel sorely cheated. That closing credit moment, I confess, was the sole time I was truly taken with Tokyo Godfathers, swept up and away rather than sat there quietly appreciative. That's no complaint; Kon's cooked up a lot to be contemplative about here, even if I'm not so interested in the narrative games he plays en route to expressing it.

  • Adam's Rib

    Adam's Rib 1949

    ★★★½ Watched 12 Jan, 2016

    If Bogey and Bacall stand out still as one of those iconic screen couples whose courtship defined sexiness, Hepburn and Tracy endure for their endearing evidence of utter love. I thumbed through Hepburn's memoir a while back, and her unyielding affection for Tracy practically slumps out of the book into your lap. So it is with their behaviour together, put to immaculate use by Cukor here in a comedy that feeds off how much its questions of gender equality feel rhetorical with delectable vim.

  • Lotus

    Lotus 2012

    ★★★ Watched 11 Jan, 2016

    The hows and whys don't much matter, but a couple months back I found myself in Toronto perusing a cheaply-printed and poorly-bound copy of a Chinese immigrant's autobiographical first novel. You might kindly describe the rhetoric as weak, but there was a certain fervour to the fury of it all I've found hard to get out of my mind. Lotus reminded me a lot of that book: it's not a great film, nor even ever close to one, but injustice adamantly conveyed seems to speak so loudly in spite of shortcomings.

  • Creed

    Creed 2015

    ★★★★ Watched 16 Jan, 2016

    Not to add to the chorus of weep-boasting this film has oddly elicited—though not that oddly, given Coogler's tremendous turns on the ideas of masculinity the boxing film has typically offered up—but I cried four times in Creed, and I think the points at which I did so say it all about why I'm so head-over-heels about this movie. Two were inevitable blubs at Rocky character beats, partially because I love this series so much that the pains of his…

  • Room

    Room 2015

    ★★★½ Rewatched 16 Jan, 2016

    Abrahamson advocate that I am, I'm as thrilled as I am surprised to see him here earning the kind of industry and audience acknowledgement his films have long deserved; if Room's surprise slew of Oscar nods sees more people going back to Garage, you'll find few happier. That's a curious position to be in, given the direction here is one of the key things I question: Abrahamson's nomination, I suspect, is all down to the wonders he works with Jacob…

  • The Squid and the Whale

    The Squid and the Whale 2005

    ★★★★ Watched 10 Jan, 2016

    Don't know that Baumbach's excess of antics—child alcoholism! public masturbation! heart attack!—has anything near as much help as hindrance to offer, but gosh when his somewhat sprawling elements all happen to combine just right does The Squid and the Whale hit home, and hard. My own folks' splitting is recent enough still that the movie's many latent tensions are vibrantly recognisable, from the passive aggressive asides to that striking doorstep scene that had me almost in floods. But I don't…

  • The Hateful Eight

    The Hateful Eight 2015

    ★★½ Watched 10 Jan, 2016 4

    "Humour me."

    Nah, Quentin, after nigh-on two decades of that I think I'm quite done. That Tarantino's only here thinking to ask his audience's patience is an apt indictment of just how far he's fallen since he started mining the films of yesteryear for material rather than doing anything interesting of his own. Don't get me wrong, there's a perfectly fun taut thriller nestled in the avalanche of indulgence that is The Hateful Eight—even if it is called Reservoir Dogs—but…