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  • Lotus

    Lotus

    ★★★

    The hows and whys don't much matter, but a couple months back I found myself in Toronto perusing a cheaply-printed and poorly-bound copy of a Chinese immigrant's autobiographical first novel. You might kindly describe the rhetoric as weak, but there was a certain fervour to the fury of it all I've found hard to get out of my mind. Lotus reminded me a lot of that book: it's not a great film, nor even ever close to one, but injustice adamantly conveyed seems to speak so loudly in spite of shortcomings.

  • Creed

    Creed

    ★★★★

    Not to add to the chorus of weep-boasting this film has oddly elicited—though not that oddly, given Coogler's tremendous turns on the ideas of masculinity the boxing film has typically offered up—but I cried four times in Creed, and I think the points at which I did so say it all about why I'm so head-over-heels about this movie. Two were inevitable blubs at Rocky character beats, partially because I love this series so much that the pains of his…

  • Room

    Room

    ★★★½

    Abrahamson advocate that I am, I'm as thrilled as I am surprised to see him here earning the kind of industry and audience acknowledgement his films have long deserved; if Room's surprise slew of Oscar nods sees more people going back to Garage, you'll find few happier. That's a curious position to be in, given the direction here is one of the key things I question: Abrahamson's nomination, I suspect, is all down to the wonders he works with Jacob…

  • The Squid and the Whale

    The Squid and the Whale

    ★★★★

    Don't know that Baumbach's excess of antics—child alcoholism! public masturbation! heart attack!—has anything near as much help as hindrance to offer, but gosh when his somewhat sprawling elements all happen to combine just right does The Squid and the Whale hit home, and hard. My own folks' splitting is recent enough still that the movie's many latent tensions are vibrantly recognisable, from the passive aggressive asides to that striking doorstep scene that had me almost in floods. But I don't…

  • The Hateful Eight

    The Hateful Eight

    ★★½

    "Humour me."

    Nah, Quentin, after nigh-on two decades of that I think I'm quite done. That Tarantino's only here thinking to ask his audience's patience is an apt indictment of just how far he's fallen since he started mining the films of yesteryear for material rather than doing anything interesting of his own. Don't get me wrong, there's a perfectly fun taut thriller nestled in the avalanche of indulgence that is The Hateful Eight—even if it is called Reservoir Dogs—but…

  • The Milky Way

    The Milky Way

    ★★★

    Distraught, dismayed, and downright cross to find the Milky Way advertised to Irish Mubi subscribers was not that shown. It's not a contest of quality to say McCarey's no Buñuel, but one in the mood for the latter is scarcely best-equipped to adjust to the former instead... Would you scoff if I said it's my first Lloyd? Probably you ought to. Liked it enough to add urgency to my ongoing shame at still not having seen Safety Last!

  • Children of Heaven

    Children of Heaven

    ★★★½

    Has to go stumbling off in all directions, rarely terribly effectively, to find the material to justify being more than a short, but there is such dreadful depth of sadness to the kids' ever-overflowing eyes that I can't but be won over, for all the unfulfilled ambition of the piece. Majidi's no master of his medium—not here, at any rate—but his overripe imagery and sustained sense of consciousness meet clear allusions to The Bicycle Thieves and its tradition of tragic realism for a film whose prevailing ingenuousness is nothing if not charming.

  • A Town Called Panic

    A Town Called Panic

    ★★★★

    Watched with m'little sister, whose oh-do-we-have-to eye-rolling on learning I was about to show her a subtitled Belgian animation soon gave way to more guffawing then I've heard from her in an age. It might be the funniest film of the new millennium, a free-wheeling fabulist fantasy whose hyper-caffeinated hysterics reduce me to a breathless wreck each and every time. And there have been many, and there shall still many more be.

  • Funny Face

    Funny Face

    ★★★

    Deeeeeeeeply distrustful of the way in which the film's irreverent anti-intellectualism basically belies the sordid stance that women should be seen—ideally pretty, pink, and in Paris—and not heard, either objects of attraction or, when it suits, consumers of the means to make them so. Think Pygmalion sans satire*, as queasily clueless of its own ickiness as the quinquagenarian Astaire locking lips with Hepburn. But it's less a particular reflection of any among the production than The Way It Was writ…

  • The Adventures of Baron Munchausen

    The Adventures of Baron Munchausen

    ★★★½

    Even if Gilliam's playful penchant for slapstick and silliness might jar a touch with my own sense of humour, I'm enthralled by and enamoured of any artist so wholly, heartily inextricable from their chosen medium. In the dynamic depth of his compositions, the to-ing and fro-ing of his craning camerawork, and oneiric embellishment of each and every shot, Gilliam envisions the screen as a four-dimensional surrealist's canvas onto which he gleefully slathers no shortage of paint. For all the mess…

  • Synecdoche, New York

    Synecdoche, New York

    ★★★★★

    I've had this experience where people say that I'm depressing, or "so sad" and why am I so sad--my experience in the world is that when someone has written something or articulated something that is close to me but hasn't been articulated or written and I recognize it, I feel a common humanity that's overpowering to me. It's actually a time where I feel less alienated from the human race and I feel actually, in a way, pleased to be…

  • Tenebre

    Tenebre

    ★★★

    Positively fixated on the character of Gianni, not just cos his blond-and-blue beauty and sublime sartorial choices hogged this male's gaze, but also because his disturbance at the horror of all happening around him is so markedly in contrast to his fellow characters, and the vast majority among Argento's oeuvre in my experience. The practical Psycho-esque images of blades entering bodies and flesh rent asunder always carries, of course, a physical weight; here Gianni's horror—while largely, eventually, an agent of…