Amir Soltani

Amir Soltani

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festival programmer and occasional writer

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  • Klute

    Klute

    ★★★★½

    It's almost as if this was tailor-made for my taste. If there's ever been a film that managed to visualize the sense of paranoia with just the framing of every shot better than Klute does, I haven't seen it. A psychological thriller with expert camera work—the light vs. shadows games it plays, especially when framing Jane Fonda against others, is brilliant—and inescapably eerie music with two god-level performances, all while subverting (through actual therapy!) our expectations of the "saviour complex" trope in narratives about sex workers. What more can you ask for?

  • The Battle of Algiers

    The Battle of Algiers

    ★★★★★

    The rarest gem of all: a work of political art in which form is as radical and revolutionary as the ideas in play, but feels neither academic, nor didactic. Pontecorvo's malleable construction of the film—image and sound dutifully take on the identity of the characters on screen, seamlessly oscillating between a guerrilla realism reflective of the revolutionary fervour of the Algerian resistance, or a chillingly methodical stillness reminiscent of the French army's disciplined brutality—is a stroke of genius. This is…

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  • Ossessione

    Ossessione

    ★★★½

    I prefer this slightly to Garnett’s adaptation.
    Whereas the American version’s harsh staccato rhythm and repeated introduction of new subplots becomes somewhat convoluted by the film’s end, Visconti’s take has a more deliberate pace and digs deep beneath the surfaces of Italian society to recontextualize the plot astutely into its new cultural surroundings.
    On the other hand, Lana Turner’s presence, the real spark in The Postman Always Rings Twice, is sorely missing. Clara Calamai, whose appearance is in theory a…

  • The Man Who Knew Too Much

    The Man Who Knew Too Much

    ★★★

    The two consecutive set-pieces that make up the finale—the concert hall and the siege—are stunning and an exciting end to this tight thriller. Yet, everything that comes before them has the tendency to feel a bit mechanical, without emotionally engaging the audience as the films moves from one plot point to another. It feels especially disappointing because the child kidnapping subplot has the potential to feel a lot more gripping than it does.

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  • Nomadland

    Nomadland

    ★★½

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    There's lots of stuff to admire in this one. Zhao's understanding of space and the interaction between people and nature is remarkable, and expands on similar strengths in The Rider. Of all the films I've seen this year, Nomadland is the one I most wish I could have seen on the big screen. Frances McDormand and David Strathairn are both excellent, and their chemistry with the amateur cast is seamless. Yet, while no filmmaker is obligated to explore every possible…

  • L'Avventura

    L'Avventura

    ★★★★★

    It's no mean feat to invent a whole new cinematic language through which bourgeois ennui and emotional detachment and existential crises can be studied by purely visual means, or to convey human emotions and psyches through landscape and architecture and, very often, without words altogether. This is a film in which the sight of a decaying monument or the sound of church bells or the smallest gesture of a hand can signify a world of meaning. I used to think…