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  • Planetarium

    Planetarium

    ★★½

    A film so structurally scattershot that it fails to form a coherent whole. It tries to explore many things all at once, experimenting constantly with themes and narrative tricks, but the end result is just a jumbled mess of ideas. One minute it’s a melodrama about two sisters trying their luck at performing staged seances in pre-WWII France; the next it’s a quasi-sci fi tale about spirits, precognition, and the power of cinema... I think. But on a positive note, Natalie Portman stars and she’s always worth your time. Love her French!

  • Memoir of a Murderer

    Memoir of a Murderer

    ★★½

    Save for Sol Kyung-gu’s flashes of acting prowess and, of course, that sweet, sweet reference to Peppermint Candy, I find this crime thriller to be pretty unremarkable on most fronts. The story revolves around a dangerous cat-and-mouse game between two serial killers, one of whom, the protagonist, suffers from dementia—and that’s where the problem starts. The filmmakers treat disability like a cheap plot device. The character’s condition is a simple storytelling gimmick. Dementia is not even realistically portrayed. We’re then forced to endure an unreliable narrator ambiguity, and it’s just so off-putting. Call this the poor man's I Saw the Devil.

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  • Upstream Color

    Upstream Color

    ★★★★★

    Shane Carruth’s alluring Upstream Color is Invasion of the Body Snatchers for the art house crowd, with hogs replacing pods and identity crisis substituting for McCarthyism. That may be an awfully crude comparison but it’s the overall gist I got as I watched this beguiling, beautiful film. One thing’s for sure, the plot’s mind-control science fiction aspect plays only second fiddle to the transcendent yet universal overarching theme of emotional resonance in people in the vein of Henry David Thoreau’s…

  • Post Tenebras Lux

    Post Tenebras Lux

    ★★★★½

    Contemplative cinema can be a bitch. This most elusive of art house varieties has repeatedly rendered me awestruck, but at the same time hopelessly nonplussed all at once. With that said, the sensory experience waiting in store for viewers in Post Tenebras Lux, perhaps the most idiosyncratic and abstract work to date from Mexican, transcendental filmmaker Carlos Reygadas, can be quite overwhelming and intimidating. If one is unfamiliar with the director’s influences—namely Robert Bresson, Carl Theodore Dreyer, Roberto Rossellini, and…