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  • The Killing of a Chinese Bookie

    The Killing of a Chinese Bookie

    ★★★★★

    With the exception of Mabel in 'A Woman Under the Influence,' I don’t know if Cassavetes ever gave us a better "self-portrait" — with so many of his personal insecurities and struggles on display, as well as his singular drive for creative freedom — than he did through the characters of Cosmo and Mr. Sophistication in 'Killing of a Chinese Bookie.' Cosmo finds freedom through putting on his act. As he says, he only feels like himself when he is…

  • Meek's Cutoff

    Meek's Cutoff

    ★★★★★

    For all practical purposes, 'Meek’s Cutoff' is a Western. But for many viewers, here lies the problem, for at its heart 'Meek’s Cutoff' doesn’t function like a genre film. It certainly revises and challenges traditional elements of the Western genre — accentuating the females’ perspective, avoiding an action-centric narrative for something more explorative — but 'Meek’s Cutoff' is the type of film that shows a weakness in words like “subversive." Reichardt isn’t just toying with conventions, she is leading us…

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  • Exhibition

    Exhibition

    ★★★★½

    Joanna Hogg's 'Exhibition' explores the marriage of two artists (named simply H and D, played by Liam Gillick and Viv Albertine) during the process of selling the home they have lived in for two decades. They both have different ideas about moving, which reflect a great deal about how they envision their relationship. With both being creatives — she a performance artist, he working more in a conceptual vein — the film spends a lot of time on how they…

  • Bloomin Mud Shuffle

    Bloomin Mud Shuffle

    ★★★★★

    After years of work, I finally published the final chapter of my essay series on Frank V. Ross today. It's on this film, 'Bloomin Mud Shuffle,' which is his most recent feature. Like all of Ross' work, it is a compassionate and complex film that challenges us to follow its imperfect characters through their daily grinds. It avoids the usual crescendos of life-altering crises and problem-solving that most films are built around. Instead, it creates drama in the space where…

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  • Safe

    Safe

    ★★★★★

    There is an interview with Guy Maddin on the ‘My Winnipeg’ Criterion disc in which he compares melodrama to Werner Herzog's ecstatic truths. Maddin defines melodrama as "life uninhibited,” a style where characters can turn their insides out by articulating their deepest emotions in their fullest and most expressive forms. In ‘Safe,’ Haynes does something unique with melodrama, because he treats the film’s most ecstatic moments like they are being yelled through gritted teeth. There is a disharmony between the…

  • The Texas Chain Saw Massacre

    The Texas Chain Saw Massacre

    ★★★★★

    I’ve already watched this film twice in 2020. I’ve held off on reviewing it, but today I felt compelled to jot down some thoughts about watching 'Texas Chainsaw' on the 4th of July this year. The experience has really stuck with me. I remember nothing felt right about a holiday taking place at the time, especially one that celebrates a country that remains so undeserving of praise at the moment. Instead of the traditional BBQ, some friends and I did…