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  • I Am Not Your Negro

    I Am Not Your Negro 2016

    ★★★½ Watched 01 Dec, 2016

    The further we get from the 20th century, the more James Baldwin seems like its most important public American intellectual. His television appearances present an erudite, unassuming figure whose natural wit is visibly suppressed as collateral damage of his attempt to tamp down his rage. The Baldwin of interviews and debates is disarming in his clarity, presenting stark, strident analyses with such carefully worded poise, rendering the subjectivity of black life in almost clinically observant tones. Disgust creeps around the…

  • 13th

    13th 2016

    ★★★½ Watched 30 Nov, 2016

    The material itself is fairly basic for anyone who has even modestly attempted to track the US carceral state, but what I found so compelling about DuVernay's film was the skill of its assembly. Barring the repetitive hip-hop and soul transitions, which are, of course, culturally relevant as expressions of anguish and fury but do start to feel like padding, the film otherwise deftly stitches together outrages old and new. It weaves such a dense web of interconnected horrors and…

  • Doctor Strange
  • The Handmaiden

    The Handmaiden 2016

    ★★★★ Watched 21 Oct, 2016

    Just when I thought this was going to lapse into the usual arty emptiness of Park Chan-wook's filmography, all titillation and shock value rendered flat by overemphasis, the film takes a turn, then another, then three more, then back to the top to trickle down more twists and upheavals. Instead of plodding on about his simplistic, half-assed moralism about revenge, Park just lets loose, and for one of the few times in his career he is genuinely thrilling. Sometimes in…

  • Shin Godzilla

    Shin Godzilla 2016

    ★★★★ Watched 13 Oct, 2016 2

    Godzilla, having long ago become a cartoon character whose political importance faded away in the face of kaiju battles, returns to terrifying flesh, ironically, at the hands of an anime master. Anno's conception of the creature is well in line with the monsters of his Neon Genesis Evangelion: this is not a static being but a creature in constant evolutionary flux, responding to its energy intake and any threats by morphing and growing. As the nature of the nuclear threat…

  • Blind Detective

    Blind Detective 2013

    ★★★★ Rewatched 08 Oct, 2016

    I'm not quite as high on this as I was when I saw it in a packed house at TIFF13 and it brought the place down, but I'd still rank this in the upper tier of To's comedies. A neo-screwball procedural that swaps forensic for quasi-paranormal intuition and the loopy stage direction of Johnston dictating Ho's role-play to help him get into character of killers. The rambling narrative structure would be better served at To's usual ~90 minute running lengths…

  • Nat Turner: A Troublesome Property

    Nat Turner: A Troublesome Property 2003

    ★★★★ Watched 06 Oct, 2016

    Made 13 years ago, Charles Burnett's documentary is not only a daring piece of nonfiction more in line with contemporary works in true/false experimentation than typical PBS fare, it is also a preemptive antidote for the self-aggrandization of Nate Parker's film. In casting seven actors as Turner, Burnett foregrounds the manner in which the rebel, or maybe any historical figure (and certainly any figure like Turner), ceases to exist as an actual person and instead exists at the whims of…

  • Certain Women

    Certain Women 2016

    ★★★★½ Watched 05 Oct, 2016 2

    A film of uncommon grace, redolent of Paterson in no serious way save for a shared confidence to be about nothing in particular but to suggest gulfs of meaning. Fuses the listless drifting and scanning personal portraits of Reichardt's early work with the increasing formalism of Night Moves and Meek's Cutoff. Foregrounds the director's love of half-told stories by divvying up the running time to three half-told stories, each of which nonetheless feels more complete than anything she's told to date. Maybe her best?

  • Paterson

    Paterson 2016

    ★★★★½ Watched 14 Sep, 2016

    Linking to my full review. I cannot stop thinking about this film and desperately longing to see it again www.slantmagazine.com/film/review/paterson

  • Matinee

    Matinee 1993

    ★★★★½ Rewatched 02 Oct, 2016

    Joe Dante is just about the only satirist worth a damn whose work is ultimately chooses optimism and affection over cynicism. Matinee initially separates his two impulses—its depiction of the farce of nuclear drills, of a world without dietary mania ("eat red meat three times a day!"), of the existential dread underpinning a young generation supposedly living in their country's golden age" is occasionally terrifying. Meanwhile, its attention to the B-movies of the atomic age, produced by benign, if still…

  • Femme Fatale

    Femme Fatale 2002

    ★★★★½ Rewatched 01 Oct, 2016

    A freewheeling picture, one redolent of Holy Motors in the way its characters are actors, not the actors playing them but figures whose identities are blank canvasses. They try on archetypes as if they were wigs or jewelry, with even Banderas' strung-along photographer in a constant state of flux between hopeless attraction, smug condescension and vicious hatred. When I mentioned I'd rewatched this film on Twitter someone said that the movie is good up until the first time Rebecca Romijn…

  • American Honey

    American Honey 2016

    Watched 29 Sep, 2016

    Andrea Arnold has the most remarkable ability to extract lies from truth, to dabble in kitchen sink realism only as a pretext for her meaningless formal exercises. Fish Tank was clumsy and obvious but at least showed a potential for shedding bad impulses and building good, but American Honey is that film pushed into the grotesque. Arnold loves close-ups that testify only to her own eye for capturing images, never any deeper insight into either characters or themes. AH is…