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  • Queen of Earth

    Queen of Earth 2015

    ★★★★ Added 2

    If the movies have taught us anything, it’s that there is no landscape more wondrous than that of the human face. In a much-remarked upon shot in LISTEN UP PHILIP, Alex Ross Perry’s formidable previous film, the camera held on Elisabeth Moss’s visage in close-up as she silently ran through a gamut of emotions, a single long take that constituted a welcome interlude of radical empathy in a film otherwise deliberately brimming with unpleasantness. In a way, QUEEN OF EARTH,…

  • The Assassin

    The Assassin 2015

    ★★★★★ Added

    Although Hous Hsiao-Hsien's THE ASSASSIN, starring the gorgeous and charismatic Shu Qi (The Transporter), has been marketed as a martial-arts extravaganza a la Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, it can more accurately be described as a deliberately paced character study that takes place in 9th century China where the protagonist happens to be a professional killer. Nie Yin-Niang (Shu) is a young woman who has been trained from childhood to assassinate rogue politicians by a “nun princess.” When the film begins,…

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  • Like Someone in Love

    Like Someone in Love 2012

    ★★★★★ Watched 16 Oct, 2012

    The late Chilean director Raul Ruiz’s indispensable book Poetics of Cinema argues against the necessity of “central conflict theory” that has long dominated commercial narrative filmmaking in the western world. If Abbas Kiarostami, one of the world’s greatest living directors, ever wrote a comparable book on film theory, one suspects he might similarly challenge the notion of the “three-act structure.” The Japanese-set Like Someone in Love may well be the Iranian master’s most provocative work; his extremely unconventional handling of…

  • A Spell to Ward Off the Darkness

    A Spell to Ward Off the Darkness 2013

    ★★★★½ Added

    This masterful experimental film by co-directors Ben Rivers and Ben Russell begins with one of the most incredible images I’ve seen on a cinema screen in some time: an epic panning shot of a Finnish landscape, first from right to left, then from left to right, as the last traces of sunlight disappear from the night sky. As the screen grows increasingly dark, a band of hilly forest becomes nothing more than a thick, black horizontal line separating the midnight…