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  • Victoria

    Victoria 2015

    Watched 11 Jun, 2015

    Victoria is a decent enough heist film. Its one shot gimmick forces some subtly (can't cut to close-ups) and it's de rigueur documentary-like shooting is effectively claustrophobic. It has some narrative strengths too: a sticky door is an effective piece of misdirection. Make no mistake though: Victoria's single continuous take is a gimmick. At one point the camera operator "cuts" in camera by letting the shot drift slowly out of focus and then snapping it back into focus. Maybe now that Sebastian Schipper's gotten some attention he'll let himself use his full toolbox.

  • Far from the Madding Crowd

    Far from the Madding Crowd 2015

    Watched 19 Jul, 2015

    Far from the Madding Crowd starts off on the wrong foot with an opening that doesn't compress time so much as awkwardly paste discreet (albeit often lovely) moments together. Thereafter it's competent enough but lacks the spark of more successful - or at least more engaging - costume dramas. It doesn't have the energy Joe Wright brings to his films or the boldness Andrea Arnold brought to Wuthering Heights. (Gosh I hope those who carped at Arnold's nature close-ups spent…

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  • Birdman

    Birdman 2014

    Watched 10 Jan, 2015

    Birdman is so in your face that it makes a motif out of characters speaking directly to the camera. It's a manic, propulsive, eager little thing driven by a relentless drum score, a swooping camera and restless actors who talk as though they could burst into flames at any moment. It's populated by caricatures and filled with the kind of passionate nonsense that regularly fills columns exclaiming that Hollywood has run out of ideas, or that theater is a dying…

  • When Animals Dream

    When Animals Dream 2014

    Watched 08 Jan, 2015

    There's a long history of feminist werewolf stories and it's easy to see why: Aside from the terror of big, nasty dogs the horror of the werewolf lies in a loss of control over one's own body. When Animals Dream gets great of mileage out of this subtext. Before the protagonist, Marie, has even begun to wolf out she's subjected to an intrusive doctor's examination and the unwanted attentions of a local boy.

    By the time she's asserting pride in…