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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…

  • The Story of Temple Drake

    The Story of Temple Drake

    ★★★★★

    Even if The Story of Temple Drake did not achieve notoriety as one the most lurid examples of pre-Code depravity, it would undoubtedly be remembered for its remarkable visual style, with cinematographer Karl Struss imagining the material in a way not unlike the horror films of the period. Watch, for example, the way in which the cast is introduced in the opening credits. Many pictures of the period utilized a roll call technique wherein scenes of the film appear with…