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  • A Quiet Passion

    A Quiet Passion

    ★★★★★

    Director Terence Davies has carved a career out of his haunting, nostalgic portraits of British pastimes. In the semi-autobiographical The Long Day Closes, a a young boy is raised by the beauty and escapism of the cinema screen. Similarly, A Quiet Passion finds Emily Dickinson (Cynthia Nixon) as a woman who comes to understand and expand her world through Brontë novels. Although Dickinson has steadfast convictions and a strong opinion regarding marriage’s deadening potential on women, the film is far…

  • Dunkirk

    Dunkirk

    ★★★

    Christopher Nolan is an unabashed formalist whose persistent focus on time is the uniting theme in all of his works. If Interstellar took the temporal to a cosmic level, Dunkirk shows Nolan’s fixation on the specificity of a singular time and place. The chaos of battle is articulated through Nolan’s puzzle-like narrative structure, with apparently disparate story threads collapsing on each other about midway through the film. If it does suggest the disorientation that one might feel on a battlefield,…

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  • The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

    The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

    ★★★★★

    That Clint Eastwood’s character in the Sergio Leone films is widely known as “the man with no name” is a perfect distillation of the mythmaking that happens in the series—it’s a moniker that is absent from the screenplays themselves, and yet it serves as the perfect articulation of the larger than life mythos of the gunslinger. From the title alone, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly associates men with ideas of what men can be—heroes and villains alike are…

  • State Fair

    State Fair

    ★★★★

    Philip Stong’s popular novel about a family making their yearly voyage to the Iowa State Fair was first adapted as this slice-of-life drama before Rodgers & Hammerstein had their way with it. Henry King directs the material as a story of juxtapositions—the leisurely pace of the country scenes and the bustle of the fair; the righteous civilians and the swindlers; the biological family and the created community at the carnival. Part of the film’s great success is the way King dramatizes…