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  • A Cure for Wellness

    A Cure for Wellness

    An uncanny hybridization of gothic romanticism and capitalist critique which allows Verbinski to burrow into the aesthetic molds of decayed Hollywood horror tropes with reckless abandonment. Like in his previous films, water is exploited as a weapon of control and unresolved myths (both thematic & formal) bubble restlessly beneath the surfaces of baroque compositions. The moment where Dane DeHaan breaks apart the picture frame to reveal a hidden, folded over section of the photograph inside is a redressing of the scene…

  • Kiss of the Dragon

    Kiss of the Dragon

    Destined to be remembered (or not) as one of Jet Li's better U.S. studio films set accordingly to largely forgotten 2000s hip-hop acts like Mystikal and N.E.R.D. Immediately the film opens with a question and refuses to answer it (why is there a dead rabbit?) as Jet Li flies overhead and lands in Paris. Indeed the film is at its most potent when it suggests an exterior world just beyond its narrative. Moments like when the shopkeeper tells Li that…

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  • Joe Dakota

    Joe Dakota

    A subdued B-western that slipped between the cracks underneath comparable films like Bad Day at Black Rock (1955). The film follows Jack Mahoney as a mysterious stranger who rides into an isolated town in search of his friend Joe Dakota but instead uncovers a dark secret behind the citizens and their local oil well. Mahoney saunters around the townsfolk with a calm aloofness. Even as he’s still learning everything, his reserved exterior keeps the villains guessing exactly how much he…

  • Deep Valley

    Deep Valley

    A backwoods romance-noir in which repressed Ida Lupino harbors escaped convict Dane Clark while running away from home. Negulesco dutifully flourishes the script’s central themes, contrasting dark decrepit interiors with bright sunny exteriors and occasionally peppering the foreground with metaphorical scythes and wheel spokes. The film’s most beautiful sequences fittingly occur in the woods where Lupino’s Libby feels most at home. A shot of her walking along a fallen tree trunk sports a strong backlight to cast an angelic aura…