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  • The Misfits

    The Misfits

    ★★★★

    The Misfits (1961) is a beautiful (if hard-to-watch) elegy, not only for the American West it depicts in a slow fade into obsolescence, but also for three of its actors. Plotwise, Roslyn Tabor (Marilyn Monroe) goes through a dismissively quick divorce (for which Reno was already famous by 1931) at the start of the film. Through a divorcee friend Isabelle Steers (Thelma Ritter) she meets Guido (Eli Wallach) and then Gay Langland (Clark Gable); Steers disappears without fanfare about halfway…

  • 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…

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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…