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  • Eraserhead

    Eraserhead

    ★★★★★

    But having rated it five stars, I'm not sure if I ever want to do this to myself again. It was my first time in the theater, and I forgot that on my previous viewing at home I paused a couple times (toilet break, water). In the theater, there is no escape, and I seriously contemplated fleeing a couple times, just because I found the film so effectively anxiety-inducing.

    ERASERHEAD is a miracle of sound design, of no-budget imagination, of…

  • The Long Day Closes

    The Long Day Closes

    ★★★★½

    Perhaps you're like me, and haven't seen much Davies, but you've seen enough Loach and Leigh to feel like you've got the measure of things when it comes to British kitchen-sink miserablism, and autobiographical coming of age stories have no special appeal for you, and you saw THE HOUSE OF MIRTH sixteen years ago and it quickly faded into a miasma of costume dramas, bubbling between THE END OF THE AFFAIR and AN IDEAL HUSBAND and a passel of Austen…

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  • Nimic

    Nimic

    ★★★

    A friend emailed me the other day to ask if I'd seen NIMIC, noting tersely: "heavy JAKE influence". And while I won't assume influence, particularly given that ALPS (shot after but released before JAKE) milks not dissimilar terrain, it relies on a core conceit that's startlingly similar and rarely seen in other doppleganger cinema which I won't spoil but will be obvious to the like six people who wind up seeing both.

    But it's a mix of that and Kiyoshi…

  • The Towering Inferno

    The Towering Inferno

    ★★★

    Officially at the point where my "I get to go to the cinemas and see movies safely, I'm so lucky" feelings are completely washed away by my "oh my god I have to share cinemas with chatty weirdos and cellphone abusing assholes" feelings. I'd probably feel more like I had to check my privilege if this film didn't force me to spend my time in the company of one of the grade-A craven assholes of motion picture history (played by…

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  • A Hidden Life

    A Hidden Life

    ★★★★★

    Speculation has abounded about Terrence Malick's latest, that it might be something "more conventional". It is, and it isn't. Here's how it is: it has its clearest dramatic structure since BADLANDS, possibly even more clear. An Austrian couple during the outbreak of WWII gradually discover that the man will be required to make an oath of loyalty to Adolf Hitler. He believes, because of his Christian morality, he cannot do so. This dilemma drives the entire film, and the relationship…

  • At Eternity's Gate

    At Eternity's Gate

    ★½

    Five runner-ups for my least favourite aesthetic decisions in this film (no order):

    1) Shooting a shot like a POV handheld, but then having the person in frame look off camera to talk, and then doing the opposite
    2) Bottom of frame blur-o-vision applied arbitrarily
    3) Going black and white for literally two shots
    4) Going piss-filter for any number of shots
    5) Repeating audio we've heard like twenty seconds ago

    ... all of which pale in offensiveness to the…