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  • Painted Skin

    Painted Skin 2008

    Watched 30 Aug, 2015

    This review reportedly contains spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    Painted Skin doesn't always put its best foot forward. There are a number of clumsy moments: The most egregious being an attempt to create drama by cutting around the moment a character suddenly turns to face another. The absence of the turning movement is intended to shock but instead it just jars. That said, as The Bride with White Hair showed, I'm more than capable of overlooking some oddities (both films share an extreme fondness for Dutch angles) if the…

  • Of Horses and Men

    Of Horses and Men 2013

    Watched 27 Aug, 2015

    Tonally similar to Imamura's work in that it is both bawdily humorous and startlingly tragic. The animals are active participants here though rather than just metaphors deployed via inserts (although to be fair the fish in The Pornographers isn't exactly passive). Like Imamura's work Of Horses and Men does effectively balance its tonal shifts - transitioning from levity to grief with uncommon grace. It's also cleverly structured in a way that takes full advantaged of its small town setting.

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  • Leviathan

    Leviathan 2014

    Watched 27 Aug, 2015

    Leviathan feels like Zvyagintsev gathered up The Return's study of authoritarian masculinity and Elena's class portraits and wove them together. In that regard it feels like a full stop or a culmination and I'm not sure where he goes from here. His perspective feels new though: as though he's shifted from being a mostly detached observer to a bitter commentator.

  • 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…