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  • The Gospel According to Matthew

    The Gospel According to Matthew

    ★★★★½

    Because the only Pasolini film I had previously seen was the harrowing Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975), I began The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1963) with some trepidation. I expected it to be dark, visceral, and transgressive. It turns out to be a refreshingly straightforward adaptation of the book of Matthew, with none of the horrors of Salo, his final film.

    That’s not to say that The Gospel According to St. Matthew lacks power. On the…

  • The Place Beyond the Pines

    The Place Beyond the Pines

    ★★★★½

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    I had heard The Place Beyond the Pines (2013) compared favourably to Derek Cianfrance’s earlier film Blue Valentine (2010). I thought the latter was quite good when I saw it last year, so I wondered whether his new effort would measure up. I was especially dubious as the trailer looked like a (stunt) vehicle for capitalizing on Gosling’s success in Drive (2011). But the positive reviews were from sources I trusted, and they were right: The Place Beyond the Pines…

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  • Dancer in the Dark

    Dancer in the Dark

    ★★★★½

    I delayed in seeing this for a long time because I found The Idiots so unpalatable and so unrewarding, though I've enjoyed most of the other von Trier films I've seen. My primary thought whilst watching this is that it succeeds in doing much of what French film in the 50s and 60s failed to do; it's a European view of America via Hollywood crime films and musicals, but the difference from Godard and Demy is that this film actually…

  • Crisis

    Crisis

    ★★★★

    Although it would be difficult for this film or any film to compare to the masterpieces of Bergman's later career, Crisis remains a staggering directorial debut, showcasing many of the concerns, themes, and strengths of his later work.

    One one level it is a contrast between invidious city and innocent countryside, and therefore might superficially be compared to Sunrise. In his first film, however, Bergman has already far surpassed any such shallow morality play, diving straight into the depths of…