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  • 300

    300

    ★★★★

    300

    “People who succeed at the highest level aren’t lucky; they’re doing something differently than everyone else.”
    Tony Robbins

    Zack Snyder did his undergraduate studying painting at the Heatherly School of Fine Art in England and the Art College of Design in California. In the 90s, he started out in film by working as a director and cinematographer on music videos and commercials for companies like Nike, Budweiser and BMW. He was given the Dawn of the Dead remake as…

  • The Act of Killing

    The Act of Killing

    ★★★★

    The Act Of Killing

    It is rare for a documentary on mass genocide to feature little information on or footage of the past events, and particularly rare to focus on the psychology of a murderer(s) rather than the accounts of the victims. The Act of Killing’s greatest attribute is its avoidance of judgment. Director Joshua Oppenheimer describes his approach as “an investigative technique, refined to help us understand not only what we see but also how we see and how…

  • Audition

    Audition

    ★★★★

    Audition

    Takashi Miike built his skills through direct-to-video (V-Cinema) projects, becoming versatile in different mediums and genres. Miike worked for multiple studios and producers, often directing pre-written screenplays and completing multiples films each year. Miike clarified that he prefers this, saying “I really enjoy working with limitations or restrictions. And if I find a space within the movie to express myself, I’m very happy. I am discovering myself as a director all the time.” (1) He has an incredible rate…

  • The Ascent

    The Ascent

    ★★★★★

    The Ascent

    Based on the 1970 novella “Sotnikov” by writer Vasil Bykov, The Ascent is a rare war film of the era that removed the glamour of war to explore the harsh realities that soldiers face. Shepitko shot the film in sub-zero temperatures in and around the city of Murom, describing that “[they] deliberately tried to approximate these conditions to the ones which our characters had to endure”. When writing the script, she heavily researched newsreels and audio recordings of…

  • Calvary

    Calvary

    ★★★★★

    Calvary

    “A priest should have the heart of Christ the good Shepard.” John Paul II

    Popular and sentimental portraits often depict a passive, effeminate Jesus with a herd of sheep surrounding him. Shepherding has always been a difficult and dirty business. Pope Francis noted the characteristic trait of having the “smell of your sheep”, indicating length of time spent with the animals to understand them. Calvary is an excellent depiction of a priest as a shepherd in a real and…

  • The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

    The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

    ★★★★★

    The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

    Based on Ron Hansen’s 1983 novel, Andrew Dominik’s film joins the anti-Western subgenre (containing notable films such as John Ford’s The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Robert Altman’s McCabe & Mrs. Miller or Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven) and documents the final months of the legendary outlaw while exploring the transition from the days of the cowboy into the new (modern) age.

    The film begins in 1881, when the legend of Jesse James…

  • Amour

    Amour

    ★★★★★

    Amour

    “Amour will, I believe, take its place alongside the greatest films about the confrontation of ageing and death, among them Ozu’s Tokyo Story, Kurosawa’s Living, Bergman’s Wild Strawberries, Rosi’s Three Brothers and, dare I say it, Don Siegel’s The Shootist.” Philip French

    “To find dignity in suffering is only possible through love and compassion. That is most difficult. As love is a difficult thing. It is not given to everyone.” Michael Haneke

    Few filmmakers are bold enough to choose…

  • Solaris

    Solaris

    ★★★★★

    Solaris

    In 1966, Tarkovsky’s second film (Andrei Rublev) was censored by the Soviet government (and he had no idea whether it would ever be released), and his next submitted screenplay called “A White, White Day” had also been rejected (which would later become “The Mirror” in 1975). Tarkovsky was eager to create a film that audiences could see. At the time, the science-fiction writer Stanisław Lem was having tremendous commercial and critical success, particularly he was respected by the USSR…

  • After Life

    After Life

    ★★★★★

    After Life

    "If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present." Lao Tzu

    Before he began creating feature fictional films, Hirokazu Kore-eda worked in non-fiction, creating several documentary films for Japanese television. When he began making feature films, he brought the skills he learned through documentaries, to his second feature AfterLife in 1998. Kore-eda said that he aims…

  • Arrival

    Arrival

    ★★★★★

    Arrival

    Based upon the science-fiction novella “Story Of Your Life” by Ted Chiang, Denis Villeneuve’s film Arrival explores the linguistic theory called the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, which claims that one’s perception of reality is either altered or determined by the language they speak.
    Through this premise, the film explores heavy metaphysical questions. Do our minds shape language or does language shape our minds? If we knew the future, would we make the same choices? And if so, would our choices be…

  • Stalker

    Stalker

    ★★★★★

    Stalker

    Based on the novel Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, Stalker was initially Tarkovsky’s attempt to achieve the classic Aristotelian unity of time, place and action. Departing radically from its source material, the resulting film explores the topic of faith, in order to explore the phenomenon of persistent unbelief.

    A year into the filming, the crew discovered that all of the film had been improperly developed. The footage (on which Tarkovsky had toiled to achieve the Aristotelian Unity)…

  • Ad Astra

    Ad Astra

    ★★★★

    Ad Astra

    “Every boy, in his journey to become a man, takes an arrow in the center of his heart, in the place of his strength. Because the wound is rarely discussed and even more rarely healed, every man carries a wound. And the wound is nearly always given by his father.”
    ― John Eldredge

    Through Ad Astra (“to the stars” in Latin), Grey recalls numerous works of classic literature, notably evoking the obsessive ambition of Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick.”,…