Favorite films

  • Inland Empire
  • Three Times
  • Memoria
  • All That Heaven Allows

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  • Memoria

    ★★★★½

  • Café Lumière

    ★★★½

  • Les Carabiniers

    ★★★

  • Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

    ★★★

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  • Muriel, or the Time of Return

    Muriel, or the Time of Return

    ★★★½

    Muriel plays like Luis Buñuel's version of Last Year at Marienbad, by which I mean that delirium (rather than visually surreal evocations of a memory space) drives the film's confusion amid an otherwise realistic appearing film about the upper-ish class working through their pasts and their relationships with one another. Everyone in the film is moving on his or her own track, and while these often run parallel to each other, there is the sense that no one can truly…

  • In the City of Sylvia

    In the City of Sylvia

    ★★★★½

    In the City of Sylvia is a triptych. In the film's first third, we watch a man at a café patio as he stares at the women around him, occasionally sketching them, otherwise simply admiring their beauty from a distance. The camera flits around the patio, wondering what these brief glimpses might reveal, if anything, about the lives of these people, and cutting on occasion to reverse shots of the man as he asks himself the same thing. These shots…

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  • Memoria

    Memoria

    ★★★★½

    Many films use visual or narrative means to combine past, present, future, dream, desire, and reality into one diegesis, but Memoria is the only one I have seen that does so primarily using its sound design. From the opening scene, where the first crashing sound is just too loud and just too crisp to be real, the film is an ode to the power of sound and the beauty of what we hear. Jess's chance encounter with a musical performance…

  • Café Lumière

    Café Lumière

    ★★★½

    Café Lumière is a more environmental film than most of Hou Hsiao-hsien's filmography, focusing on the unique experience of being in a city for the first time. As Yoko explores new locations, the city around her becomes something of a character, in turn seeming either welcoming or étranger. For all its beauty and tranquility, the film feels a bit less emotionally pointed than the character studies that Hou is so adept at making, as its qualities lie more in impressionistic discovery.

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  • Licorice Pizza

    Licorice Pizza

    ★★

    A series of cathartic moments taken from other, more introspective movies without any of the underlying groundwork that would give those moments any heft, Licorice Pizza is the first time that Paul Thomas Anderson's cinema has seemed overtly crowd-pleasing. Take its opening scene as Exhibit A: a forced meet-cute with no chemistry and little more than knowledge of teen movies to guide the drama forward, the two protagonists' first encounter seems solely interested in getting its narrative on the road…

  • The Shape of Water

    The Shape of Water

    After having seen only three of his films, I'm starting to think that Guillermo del Toro chooses to work in a "fairy tale" register because it means that he gets to be lazy with characterization and thematic development, chalking it up to the simplicity of the form. There is little other excuse that I can think of for why the villains in his films, perhaps true for The Shape of Water even more than for Pan's Labyrinth, seem to be…