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  • Drifting Clouds

    Drifting Clouds

    ★★★★½

    Drifting Clouds feels like a very conscious return to form for Kaurismäki. After his goofy surprise international hit Leningrad Cowboys Go America and the more austere, heavy-hitting The Match Factory Girl, it seems like he didn't quite know which direction to head. But after a few fine but lesser films in the early 90s, he decided, like the characters in this film, that when all else fails, it's best to stick to what you're good at. So he went back…

  • The Man Without a Past

    The Man Without a Past

    ★★★★★

    With Kaurismäki it’s not so much rich vs. poor; it’s people who can exercise power over others vs. the utterly disenfranchised. It’s not the wealthy, per se, who are bad; it’s anybody whose position of authority and selfish interests allow them to callously destroy other people’s lives. The list of Kaurismaki’s four favorite scapegoats for all of society’s ills is as follows: 1) Banks, 2) Government Institutions, 3) Bosses, 4) Street Thugs. Sakari Kuosmanen (who I’ve only recently started to…

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  • Chill Factor

    Chill Factor

    ★★½

    An unjustly forgotten masterpiece of so-bad-it's-good cinema. Shoulda been called "Night Shift and Ice Cream Man."

  • Looney Tunes: Back in Action

    Looney Tunes: Back in Action

    ★★★★

    It's not a fraction as clever as Roger Rabbit, but I think it gets the "live-action cartoon" vibe more right than Zemeckis, or just about anybody else trying to do this sort of thing, does. I definitely laugh a lot more watching this than I do watching Roger Rabbit and it's clearly made by people who understand Looney Tunes logic intimately. Plus it's the closest we've come to Steve Martin reprising his The Jerk-type schtick since the '80s, so I'll…

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  • The Strange One

    The Strange One

    ★★★★½

    Playing out like an adaptation of the most sadistic play Tennessee Williams never wrote, THE STRANGE ONE is almost completely incoherent dramatically if you don't foreground the homosexual subtext. And, like most Williams adaptations, even when you decrypt most of the gay coding in the film, you still find some of the events that transpire a bit mystifying, like the depths of depravity are so unfathomable that you can't possibly comprehend what unwholesome passions lurk behind each character's actions. My…

  • The Seventh Seal

    The Seventh Seal

    ★★★★★

    Greatest artistic achievement in the history of cinema? Yeah, probably. Greatest artistic achievement in my nine years of being a father? Punishing my button-pushing son by giving him the option of watching The Seventh Seal or nothing for his screen time tonight. I'm proud of him for sticking with it 'til the end and even though he said he hated it, he could still tell me what meaningful deed the knight accomplished by playing chess with Death, so I know…