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  • Rise and Fall of a Small Film Company

    Rise and Fall of a Small Film Company

    ★★★★

    There's a scene where Jean-Pierre Leaud (one of my all-time favorite actors: up there with Grant and Stewart and Rowlands and Wayne and Setsuko Hara and Tatsuya Nakadai) sits at table shrouded in darkness rifling through a collection of noir paperbacks listening to the stereo, initially to Leonard Cohen, then leaping up spasmodically now and then as if his body's on fire to play and replay and replay again the same five seconds or so of Bob Dylan animalistically bellowing.…

  • Return to the 36th Chamber

    Return to the 36th Chamber

    ★★★★

    This was the only part of the Lau Kar-leung series at MOMA I was able to catch, unfortunately, cause I've been traveling a lot lately. But this one was pretty awesome. Director Lau Kar-leung (aka Liu Chia-Liang) revisits the Shaolin series with actor Gordon Liu. It twists the original for comedic purposes, making Gordon Liu a goofball fuck-up who learns the Shaolin system by spying on the training sessions while being forced to construct some bamboo scaffolding around the temple.…

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  • Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives

    Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives

    ★★★★

    I just finished teaching a class on the contemporary international art cinema and I was struck how closely my students' ratings of the films that we watched tracked the movies' IMDb ratings. And I was struck how stridently -- perhaps unthinkingly -- my own tastes seemed to have veered in the opposite direction. For instance, my students' favorite film (and the most highly rated on IMDb (8.4) of those I included) was Asghar Farhadi's A SEPARATION; my students' least favorite…

  • I Accuse

    I Accuse

    ★★★★

    It's funny that so much of the dominant discourse about silent cinema these days is about "modernity" -- every new academic book about silent film recently feels obligated to link movies from the 1920s to the railroad, the telegraph, advertising, the consumer economy, etc. -- as if the use of the root "modern" will somehow legitimate the films for an audience that might not appreciate them if it thought of them as merely melodramatic entertainments. But my experience with silent…