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  • Jeannette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc

    Jeannette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc

    ★★★½

    For a film that plays like an extended music video (or a rock opera in limbo), Jeannette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc is full of hefty religious questions. The title character, seen in two different phases of her youth, bears the spiritual weight of her nation, and the interrogation she receives from many a constituent revolves around her sureness and her ability to lead a population as a young girl. Instead of tackling these ideas with any particular complex…

  • Marseille

    Marseille

    ★★★½

    Angela Schanelec's talent lies in the Bressonian tradition, though not in the overtly visual manner in which many cited The Dreamed Path as being a representative. While her performers are not exactly Bressonian models, they are not emotive, and just as in everyday life, one cannot typically understand their thoughts or emotional states by telegraphed clues. Here, laughter might indicate a character's sadness, and though we understand the emotional resonance that is conveyed, it is not always easy to realize…

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  • Birdman

    Birdman

    ★★★★½

    Visually, Birdman is a beautiful film whose appearance as one unbroken take allows us to understand the complexity of life behind the Broadway stage and the fast-paced nature of the world of theatre. It is this world where we find Riggan Thomson, a washed-up actor who is about to star in a stage adaptation of What We Talk About When We Talk About Love that he both wrote and directed but who struggles with his own descent from fame. Despite…

  • 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…