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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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  • Zombieland: Double Tap

    Zombieland: Double Tap

    ★★

    I don't remember the first one too well, but wasn't there an underlying sadness to the humor that gave it a little heft? This one is just a lazy, unfunny comedy with caricatured humans making tons of video game-like zombie splatter. What little credit I give it is mainly for the Miller's Crossing homage and for the few times these likable performers managed to ad lib an amusing, out-of-character line or two.

    I wanted to like this thing, I swear, but I was ready to leave after ten minutes.

  • The Priest and the Girl

    The Priest and the Girl

    ★★★★½

    Wow, wow, wow! I love it when I stumble on an old film I've never heard anybody talk about and it turns out to be this electrifying! I've been watching every single Brazilian film from the '60s I can get my hands on for an upcoming Cinema60 episode on Cinema Novo, and all I knew about this one was that it's an earlier film from the director of Macunaíma. A beautiful recent restoration and some gorgeous cinematography make it a…

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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…