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  • Dirty Gertie from Harlem U.S.A.

    Dirty Gertie from Harlem U.S.A.

    ★★★

    It's not perhaps the most polished film (as one of the so-called "race films" which were made by and for a black audience, largely outside the mainstream of film production, it doesn't exactly most an immense budget). However, for all that it shows plenty of flair, not least in the sheer exuberance and glamour of star Francine Everett, who's an entertainer from Harlem come to perform on the island nation of Rinidad. Sure, things move towards an ending in which…

  • Cry Me a River

    Cry Me a River

    ★★★

    This short by Jia Zhangke is beautifully shot in a canal-side city (Suzhou I guess?), and it nicely sets up its four central characters, old school friends reunited for a dinner to celebrate their teacher. However, as I think other commentators have written here, it does feel a little truncated, as if having done this exposition it feels like we could have followed them for a feature length film. I think it's a nicely done exercise in fitting characterisation into a brief time and hinting at a larger story, using the canals as a sort of melancholy framing device, an in-built sense of nostalgia and regret.

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  • Arrival

    Arrival

    ★★★

    There's a sort of sweet hopeful belief in the unifying power of language at work here, and Amy Adams is exactly the face for that, but there's also a mind-bending take on temporal awareness that reminds me of the WTF-ness of Interstellar and which I don't really find quite as fulfilling as the film evidently does. It's all very nice, though muted in its colours and uncluttered in mise en scene, and I sort of want to like it more than I did.

  • Baden Baden

    Baden Baden

    ★★★★

    Trading on all those classic elements of the cinema of self-indulgent continental introspection -- a young woman returns home to her ailing grandmother to tidy up shattered plans, creating new messes to tidy, and reopening some fresh wounds -- but it's done with such verve, such control of the medium, and such fine performances in the lead roles that what initially sounds like it might be drab and unengaging is really compelling. Sure, Ana's life may or may not be…