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  • Two Days, One Night

    Two Days, One Night 2014

    ★★★★½ Rewatched 24 Aug, 2015

    The Dardenne brothers’ heart-wrenching Oscar nominee doesn’t exactly have the cheeriest of premises; it concerns a depressed mother who’s downsized out of her menial job, so in desperation, she seeks out her co-workers and asks them to turn down the bonus that her dismissal allowed. But cinema (here or elsewhere) seldom dares to dramatize such a ground-level portrayal of living paycheck to paycheck, and the Dardennes’ micro-storytelling style creates a surprising amount of suspense and tension. Marion Cotillard is just plain astonishing in the leading role; she’s breathing and bleeding up there, and you’re with her every step of the way

  • Iris

    Iris 2014

    ★★★★ Rewatched 23 Aug, 2015

    The great Albert Maysles’ penultimate documentary feature is a loose, funky, engaging profile of Iris Apfel, a charming, brassy clotheshorse who became an unlikely style icon. The 93-year-old sparkplug has a fascinating biography — how she went from textiles to clothes, how she accumulated her massive collection, her decades-long marriage to husband Carl — but, as per his usual style of cinematic conversation, Maysles is more interested in just hanging out with these interesting people, soaking up their lives, tagging along as she shops and chats and haggles. Charming, stylish, and a lot of fun.

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  • Under the Skin

    Under the Skin 2013

    ★★★★ Watched 21 Mar, 2014

    A beautiful, bizarre, and occasionally troubling bit of abstract art-house sci-fi in the Beyond the Black Rainbow vein from director Jonathan Glazer (Sexy Beast, Birth). Scarlett Johansson (who appears in just about every frame) plays a well-disguised alien creature who picks up men and devours them; some have dismissed the picture as an indie riff on Species, but if the narrative is derivative and a tad monotonous, there’s something intoxicating about the fluidity of Glazer’s striking images and the mood he manages to sustain throughout the peculiar tale.

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  • Reality

    Reality 2014

    ★★★½ Watched 29 Apr, 2015

    Look, Quetin Dupieux is either your brand of vodka or he isn’t, and he’s certainly not going to talk you into anything at this point. His latest is a particularly bizarre intermingling of strange characters and peculiar situations, constantly reframing itself as Dupieux toggles between dream, reality, nightmare, and fiction within fiction, frequently intermingling his planes and characters. Dream movies are usually annoying because they end up obliterating their own narrative credibility; no such worries here, because he’s less telling…