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  • The Scythian

    The Scythian

    ★★★★

    It's always a tricky business to mix ancient or medieval settings with modern sensibilities, even when one knows it is necessary (the elegant prose that survives from those ages almost certainly doesn't match how people actually spoke, but making things too simple and modern also often sounds wrong). "The Scythian" seems to handle that better than most, but not necessarily because it seems particularly realistic. Some mix of its roots in Russian legend and straight-ahead action plotting makes it click,…

  • Neomanila

    Neomanila

    ★★★★

    I wonder just how this crime flick plays in its native country, where the sort of vigilante killing at the center is a Thing That Happens rather than something as far outside the norm as it seems in North America. Is it just piercing rather than shocking?

    Regardless, it's sharp as can be, setting up its loose-seeming but tight in actuality plot, filling it with memorable side characters, and playing its violence completely straight rather than making it fun.

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  • Killing Ground

    Killing Ground

    ★½

    When people who don't like horror movies in general ask those who do how they can enjoy that sort of garbage, they're talking about movies like "Killing Ground". With the good stuff, you can talk about nightmare imagery, stories which allow you to confront fears directly or metaphorically, or just admiring the staging and choreography of a suspenseful scene and the catharsis that comes afterward with the good ones, but sometimes, even with good intentions, a movie is just serving…

  • November

    November

    ★★★★½

    Rainer Sarnet's Estonian fantasy opens with some familiar, but beautifully-lensed, stark images of life in and around a poor, pre-industrial village, and just as you're starting to form an image of what this movie will be like, it drops some utterly bizarre fantasy elements into the mix as a family's "kratt" goes berserk from lack of work, stealing the cow and trying to lift it like a helicopter before having its mind blown after being told to make a ladder…