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  • Ticket of No Return

    Ticket of No Return

    ★★★½

    I found myself rather charmed by this early Ulrike Ottinger film, although perhaps "charmed" isn't quite the right word. It's about a woman, never named and played by her collaborator Tabea Blumenschein (with whom she'd worked and co-directed a few films earlier in the 70s), an impossibly glamorous lady who comes to Berlin in order to drink herself to death. It never quite coheres as a narrative though, presenting instead a series of episodes, tableaux staged to accentuate her glamorous…

  • I Was Born, But...

    I Was Born, But...

    ★★★★

    Ostensibly this is a sweet comedic film about two young kids and the trouble they get up to, but like the greatest films it operates on plenty of other levels. Not least among them is its dissection of the operation of class in Japanese society -- these two kids are from quite a humble family, and respect their father, but slowly get a sense of how subservient he is in his work and with his boss, whose son they are…

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  • Vice

    Vice

    ★½

    In some ways, when I watch something like Vice (or indeed, writer/director Adam McKay's last film The Big Short), I think of David O. Russell's American Hustle or even the flashier Martin Scorsese of, say, Wolf of Wall Street, both of which films I broadly liked (although I'm cooling on the Russell over time). I think there's a lot of common ground, as comedic renderings of modern society in all its gaudiness and compromised politics, and perhaps there's a fine…

  • Viva

    Viva

    ★★★

    I suppose I can at least say that this film is stylish, evoking with some uncanny quality a low-budget sexploitation flick of the 1970s. I don't know if one would call it pastiche, since it's unclear to what extent irony is being deployed here (and a general lack of irony is something that feels almost refreshing at times), but it's certainly going for its aesthetic, given the stilted delivery of the actors, and the leering laughter of the men, pitched…