chazbo

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  • The Music Room

    The Music Room

    ★★★★★

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

    Satyajit Ray’s early films brim with modernist tropes and themes. This is not surprising, as Ray’s middle-class background was steeped in literature, social progressivism, and Indian traditions. Like many modernist writers and artists, Ray soaks up these influences and examines them at a time of great change. Having grown up during the Indian nationalist movement, he began making films in a newly independent India. His early films often reflect the hopes and struggles of a nation forging its postcolonial identity.…

  • The Saphead

    The Saphead

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

    The Saphead is better than its reputation suggests, although there isn't much to recommend it apart from Buster Keaton's performance. It was his first role in a feature film after emerging from the tutelage of Fatty Arbuckle. He had already made a couple of two-reelers for his own production company, The High Sign (shelved until 1921) and the masterpiece One Week (released the previous month).

    Keaton didn't direct The Saphead, and it shows. The direction is unimaginative, the editing is…

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  • Richard III

    Richard III

    ★★★★★

    Richard III is Laurence Olivier's (ahem) crowning achievement as a producer and director of Shakespeare on film. Despite the reputation of Henry V as wartime propaganda (which is true but has also given many an easy way to unfairly dismiss it), the film is really an argument for translating Shakespearean theater to cinema. Hamlet allows Olivier to explore cinematic technique even further by incorporating elements of film noir, German Expressionism, and Universal horror into the sets and cinematography. Yet, in…

  • A Hidden Life

    A Hidden Life

    ★★★★½

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

    A Hidden Life tells the story of Franz Jägerstätter, a devout Catholic farmer from Sankt Radegund, in Upper Austria, who becomes a conscientious objector and refuses to swear an oath of loyalty to Hitler. A Nazi tribunal convicts him of undermining military morale and sentences him to death. His story was largely unknown outside Austria until the 1960s and 1970s, when books about his life and death began to appear. In 2007, the Catholic Church declared Jägerstätter to be a…