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  • Black Panther

    Black Panther

    I think it would be interesting to write a longer essay on the way the black radical is almost always positioned in mainstream Hollywood films as the villain (or, at most, the foil to the protagonist) whose outrage we are made to understand and empathize with but who we are ultimately able to disavow because of the existence of a hero who mitigates that rage in an attempt to affect change through existing systems and institutions. You see it in…

  • 24 Frames

    24 Frames

    24 Frames is a nice title and framing device, but I'm not sure all 24 were necessary for Kiarostami's project. The first and last frames are amazing, there are couple of great ones in between, but many others feel repetitive (all those birds in rainy/snowy weather) and like they aren't contributing anything to his "statement" here (reminiscent of Ken Jacobs' eternalism films, where only a few of the shots will really stand out from the rest--I appreciate the spirit of…

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  • La La Land

    La La Land

    ½

    There's a moment early on this film that nicely summarizes Damien Chazelle's approach to music and art: Ryan Gosling, sitting at his piano, puts on a jazz record, which begins with a complicated piano riff. He stops the record, plays the riff on his piano exactly as heard on the record, messes up, then spins back the record, replays the opening, and mimics it again. It's the same methodology behind the "Play one wrong note and you DIE" premise of…

  • Phantom Thread

    Phantom Thread

    ★★½

    Much like TWBB and The Master, this is a film about a deeply unhealthy co-dependent relationship, but this film lacks the socio-historical context that made the affectations and behavior of the characters in TWBB and The Master easier to accept. Phantom Thread exists in a hermetically sealed universe, in largely one location, and PTA seems to me to have chosen mid-50s London as the time period/social milieu entirely for aesthetic reasons. The clothes and production design and music and so…