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  • Heli 2013

    ★★★★ Watched 14 Mar, 2014

    In Amat Escalante’s Heli, the horrific images emanating from Mexico we see on American broadcast TV are regarded as child’s play, replaced with some of the most gruesome sights I’ve seen in a movie in years. The penis-on-fire that became a topic of endless publicity when the film played at Cannes—which I slightly regret mentioning again here, because pigeonholing this as the “penis-on-fire movie” is an insult to a major work of cinema—is only the tip of the iceberg. Some…

  • We Are Mari Pepa 2013

    ★★★★ Watched 13 Mar, 2014

    Samuel Kishi’s Somos Mari Pepa poetically captures the fleeting nature of youth, mixing a tender, dreamlike filmmaking style that clearly establishes the film as a collection of Kishi’s own personal memories with the crude playfulness of its teenage male characters. It’s no small feat that a movie featuring a garage-band whose only “hit” involves the refrain “I wanna cum on your face!” comes across as heartfelt. Somos Mari Pepa is a welcome blend of both the now—after all, you couldn’t…

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  • Compliance 2012

    ½ Watched 11 Jan, 2013 25

    There are two reasons that Craig Zobel could have decided to make Compliance, both equally wrongheaded:

    1) Zobel simply wanted to expose this case (and, by extension, the others like it) to the world, without any sort of greater message. While I don't buy this as the filmmaker's motivation for a second, some people have argued such, so I'll address it...

    Put simply: text-based reporting, as had already been done extensively in this case (meaning, no further examination was really…

  • Take Shelter 2011

    ★★★★★ Added 1

    The best film of 2011 is also the most criminally under-seen. Blue-collar, Midwestern father Curtis LaForche is either developing paranoid schizophrenia or accurately prophesizing the apocalypse — a binary that could have all too easily become fodder for hokey metaphor. But with writer/director Jeff Nichols and actor Michael Shannon at the helm (their second film together, following 2007’s Shotgun Stories), Curtis becomes one of the most authentically human characters in the history of cinema. He may be the symbolic fulcrum…