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  • Diary of a Country Priest

    Diary of a Country Priest

    ★★½

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

    My protracted discovery that I don’t seem to care much for Robert Bresson continues...

    Almost every outdoor shot in this is effortlessly lyrical and stunning, but the aesthetic pleasures and emotional resonance unfortunately end there for me. As in Pickpocket, I found myself feeling as if I was seeing the scenario — a youthful but sickly and alcoholic priest spends two hours in utter consternation about absolutely everything before abruptly dying of stomach cancer, whereupon Bresson presents us with the…

  • Friendly Persuasion

    Friendly Persuasion

    ★★★

    Gorgeously shot drama, with considerable levity, of a Quaker family's plight in Civil War-era Indiana demonstrates that for all his ample talents elsewhere, William Wyler wasn't much of a comedy director. Apart from a run of slapstick gags involving an angry goose (whose performance, whatever machinations it's built from, is quite remarkable), every moment that intends to land humorously is strained and artificial, while the solemn elements for the most part achieve more gravity and emotional connection. The cast is…

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  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

    Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

    ★★★★

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

    Random thoughts for the day I watched this for the first time in many years and afterward realized it's been almost exactly a decade since I saw it in the theater, which is a weird feeling:

    When this was released and my then-girlfriend and I saw it and were enchanted by it, I had never been through a breakup. Funny how getting older changes how you see a film like this so much. The scenes establishing Joel and Clementine's relationship…

  • The Black Pirate

    The Black Pirate

    ★★★

    It's hard for us as modern audience members to have a full grasp on what made a star a Star in silent-era Hollywood... then you see a performance like Douglas Fairbanks' in this, and it all becomes clear. His sheer charisma is completely ageless, his agility and comic sensibility -- mugging as he does for the invisible crowd watching -- couldn't be more engaging. The film's hackneyed action-adventure story (of a vengeful hero saving a princess from ruthless pirates who've…