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  • Duelle (une quarantaine) 1976

    ★★★★★ Watched 20 Nov, 2014 1

    For me, simply one of The Truly Great Movies. A work that starts out as ordinary and slowly inundates us into first a movie world and then a fantasy world, all while using documentary technique to keep us centered in the streets of Paris. The battle for the Fate of Earth isn't above us—it's right in front of us. Considered lesser Rivette in some circles, but it's adoration and attachment to noir and B-movies is what elevates this beyond anything…

  • Gone in 60 Seconds 1974

    ★★★★ Watched 22 Jan, 2015 2

    Thom Andersen wasn't joking when he referred to this film as "Dziga Vertov's Dream." The only cast member noted in the opening credits is Eleanor, the 1973 Ford Mustang that gets more screen time and characterization than any of the human characters. The plot is paper thin, often explained in ADR—we rarely even hear the characters speak from their mouths as much as see images of their hands and bodies working on the cars themselves. And until the big chase…

  • The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant 1972

    ★★★★ Watched 08 Jan, 2015

    "Petra can easily recite her thesis of her unemotional detached lifestyle, but when chance enters the picture — first in terms of desire, later in terms of mourning — these little pockets of emotion called humanity slip through like lightning in a bottle. And simply watch for a small, not-entirely-casual drop of a gun into a suitcase in the film’s excitingly brutal final shot. A minimalist approach to acting does not concede it to be without expression."

    More here for…

  • Blackhat 2015

    ★★★★ Watched 19 Jan, 2015 4

    "Michael Mann has finally made a film about idealist individuals. Or at least a film about those who break the patterns of the streams they live in, as opposed to accept the inexplicable systems that form their societies. Clouds form abstract shapes above cities, where rigid and jagged materials form distinct lines. Even the streets of Hong Kong and its endless bazaars simply look like a grid from above. There is complex theory and there is chaos theory. Mann knows the world is the former, but he can’t help but shoot his camera up toward the latter—searching the heavens for freedom."

    More here.

  • Hard to Be a God 2013

    ★★★★½ Watched 19 May, 2014

    Still kind of shocked this is getting any sort of release at all, which from what I've heard under the radar is more of the fault of its producers than a lack of interest from various parties. Here's my review from Cannes to help convince you to go see it.

    I've recently read the book it's based on, which is kind of like the Soviet Communist version of Dumas's The Three Musketeers. German was obviously going to make a loose…

  • Leviathan 2014

    ★★★ Watched 22 May, 2014

    This came and went I guess, so here was my review from Cannes, which I was a little kinder to than my memory of it now (also my opening graf is laughably silly). Still think Zvyagintsev finds a way to do master shot / slow cinema that actually is more plot and narrative focused, but the grand pretensions of this movie are pretty silly.

  • Mandingo 1975

    ★★★★ Watched 15 Jan, 2015

    "Because everyone acts like they're in a bad version of Masterpiece Theater (just watch James Mason chomp up every line), the parts where their artifice often breaks feels more in tuned with ideological frameworks as a form of performativity, and thus a the film's sense of psychological nuance becomes a realism. The confrontation between Made and Blanche is full of very careful performance moments where they're intellectual desires slowly fall, and thanks to his zoom lenses, Fleischer captures the psychology…

  • A Most Violent Year 2014

    ★½ Watched 17 Dec, 2014 1

    I'm sympathetic to those who scourge against Foxcatcher as a Dumb Movie About America (see Carson Lund's biting satirical take), but for me, what saves that movie is A) It's a film about people who use the language of American ideology (Tatum is essentially a blank slate who is given a cause by Carrel that he doesn't understand but feels compelled to follow) and B) Miller seems actually interested in telling this story, trying to investigate what happened here. There's…

  • Two Days, One Night 2014

    ★★★★½ Rewatched 16 Dec, 2014 2

    Listen to it discussed on The Top 10 of 2014 Cinephiliacs with Keith Uhlich. Warning: my emotional response while talking about it may be discomforting for some.

    Capsule below for In Review Online's Top 20 of 2014 poll:

    A profoundly simple truth—that each individual life has value — is made infinitely complex in this latest masterpiece by the Dardennes brothers. Two Days, One Night follows one woman’s depression as she must physically confront her own self-worth in this world by…

  • The Grand Budapest Hotel 2014

    ★★★★½ Rewatched 24 Dec, 2014 1

    Listen to it discussed on the Top 10 of 2014 Cinephiliacs with Keith Uhlich. Capsule below from In Review Online's Top 20 of the Year poll:

    “There are still faint glimmers of civilization left in this barbaric slaughterhouse that was once known as humanity.” Art in the age of unprecedented violence: Wes Anderson’s self-conscious opus builds a Russian-doll narrative centered around Monsieur Gustav (Ralph Fiennes, giving a boldly intricate performance) as the last defense against brutality on the eve of…

  • Nightcrawler 2014

    ★★★ Watched 27 Dec, 2014

    This is fun. Crisply edited, gorgeously shot, and designed to be 80s Cable Affair ("If it bleeds, it leads!" Bill Paxton scruffily shouts). I'm with Keith Uhlich, who discusses this for his Top 10 list, that its most fascinating elements are its appropriation of corporate speech into criminal affairs, which reminded me of the gangsters in Killing Them Softly using political rhetoric for their own affairs. The news satire thing did feel more pronounced to me while Keith felt more…

  • The Congress 2013

    ★★★ Watched 04 Jan, 2015

    Watched after this appeared on Keith Uhlich's Top 10 list (listen at 1:41:40), and I love his description of it. What's wonderful here is that the film stays centered in the emotional longing it creates, and uses it as the driving force of to animate its world (call it Heavy Metalcholia). Folman is uninterested in ever explaining much of the rules of the radically changing world, often abandoning one scifi world for the next, but uses Wright's stakes to keep…