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  • The Intruder 2004

    ★★★★ Watched 31 Jan, 2009

    With the films of Claire Denis describing the plot isn’t the best way to get an idea of what they are about. Much more important than plot are the characters and the settings that they are in. With The Intruder Denis establishes the characters in a leisurely and beautiful way while leaving large gaps in what we see that the viewer needs to fill in for themselves. We’re left to make the connections between what we see and hear in…

  • Things We Lost in the Fire 2007

    ★★★★ Watched 03 Feb, 2009

    I’m not really a fan of Hollywood “issue” dramas that take a serious look at things like drug addiction or other topics, but when I saw that Susanne Bier was directing Halle Barry and Benicio del Toro, I was intrigued. In her previous film “After the Wedding”, she told a melodramatic story in a completely compelling and moving way, so this seemed as though it would be a great fit and it was. while many films feel the need to…

  • Marathon Man 1976

    ★★★★ Watched 08 Mar, 2009

    Dustin Hoffman is great as a grad student caught up in a world of intrigue that he hadn’t suspected. John Schlesinger’s taut, paranoid thriller Marathon Man, is filled with twists and great acting as the film adds more information and draws the hero into the story. Taking time to establish the characters before filling in plot details creates a more compelling world that draws you in. It’s great to see an intelligent thriller that balances action, character and plot perfectly.

  • I've Loved You So Long 2008

    ★★★★ Watched 29 Mar, 2009

    With a powerful (but subtle) performance by Kristin Scott Thomas at the core of the French film, I’ve Loved You So Long we watch a woman who tries to restart her life after 15 years in prison. The details are revealed slowly and carefully in Philippe Claudel’s directorial debut. Most of the film is built around the relationship between the sister who was estranged from the family (Thomas) and her sister who was then raised as an only child. The…

  • Second Breath 1966

    ★★★★ Watched 04 Apr, 2009

    Jean-Pierre Melville brings his understated and very cinematic touch to the crime drama “Le Deuxième Souffle”. With a taught and nearly wordless opening sequence of a jailbreak he raises the stakes and establishes the character of Gu (played by Lino Ventura) who wants to get away from his life of crime, but of course it isn’t quite as simple as it seems as one last caper becomes possible. As with every film that I’ve seen by Jean-Pierre Melville, he depicts…

  • Doppelganger 2003

    ★★★ Watched 23 Aug, 2009

    Kioshi Kurosawa’s films are fascinating as he moves through different genres and creates interesting stories all that have an uneasy and ambiguous quality to them. In Doppelganger he starts off in the creepy / horror mode and then moves into a more comedic tone all while keeping things uneasy. The idea of Doppelganger is “what would happen if you met your double”. Kurosawa cleverly plays with the convention of having an evil version of yourself and does some innovative things…

  • Moon 2009

    ★★★★½ Watched 23 Aug, 2009

    In Duncan Jones’ Moon we follow the journey of self-discovery of Sam Bell, the only inhabitant of the moon in the 70s sci-fi influenced story that is constructed around a great performance from Sam Rockwell. The film is deliberately paced and filled with references to many of the great, intellectual science fiction films that have preceded it. In the claustrophobic atmosphere, Jones creates a story about identity in an uneasy way that allows the audience to figure things out slightly…

  • The Limits of Control 2009

    ★★★★ Rewatched 13 Mar, 2010

    Jim Jarmusch creates a dreamy, beautiful and understated character study in The Limits of Control. While it is thin on plot, it’s heavy on beautiful and meditative imagery. Images and dialogue are repeated and modified in a musical way. The core of the film is Isaach de Bankolé who barely says anything and quite wonderful to watch. I really enjoyed the film for the look and the casual attitude and the clever film allusions which were almost done in a Godardian style. If you’re in the right mood it will be delightful to coast along on the journey.

  • The Grand Budapest Hotel 2014

    ★★★★½ Rewatched 23 Jul, 2014

    Elaborately and beautifully constructed, The Grand Budapest Hotel is filled with lovely little touches. While a dark humour runs through the entire film, it's also a melancholy look at a vanished world and those that inhabited it. With stunning sets, costumes, props, and virtuoso performances by the entire cast, it's a delightful confection with a bittersweet centre that fully utilizes all of Wes Anderson's strengths.

  • Top Secret! 1984

    ★★★★ Rewatched 18 Jun, 2014

    While some of the jokes may be a bit dated, Top Secret is filled with some amazing, elaborate sight gags and the usual array of non sequiturs that you would expect from the team of Jim Abrams, David Zucker, and Jerry Zucker. It's also the film debut of Val Kilmer and he plays it straight as well as singing, dancing, diving, and combining all of those things underwater. There is even a great scene all shot backwards. Instead of coasting…

  • Winter Vacation 2010

    ★★★½ Watched 14 Feb, 2014

    A very deadpan comedy from China that is a bit like Bela Tarr meets Aki Kaurismaki. Winter Vacation looks at school kids and other people in a town during a boring winter vacation in a film that builds slowly, but then becomes strangely funny.

  • A Hijacking 2012

    ★★★★½ Watched 12 Feb, 2014

    Many of the Scandinavian films I love have a cool detachment to them as they deal with difficult dramatic situations. Shot in a naturalistic, almost documentary style, A Hijacking moves between the ship and the Danish corporation that is negotiating for the release of the ship. The story is told through the ship's cook and the CEO of the company that owns the ship and this structure allows for a selective withholding of information as the film moves between the two locations. Understated, tense, and with great acting all around, it's a great film.