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  • The Rules of the Game

    The Rules of the Game


    When you’re starting out on your cinephile journey, Jean Renoir’s The Rules of the Game* is one of the first experiences you’re likely to have where a film’s lofty reputation confuses you. I say this as someone who had such an experience. I first saw the film at age 16, when my knowledge of world cinema and filmmaking in general was still developing - to give you some sense of where it was, I was confident enough to say that…

  • Three Colors: Red

    Three Colors: Red


    So let me get this straight: Krzysztof Kieślowski is responsible for two of the absolute greatest films of the 1990s, Blue and Red (a number that, if I was feeling generous, I’d stretch to three to include The Double Life of Véronique - but only if I was feeling generous, mind you), and yet I’m still supposed to believe that neither of these magnificent works constitutes his by-consensus masterpiece? It really is a crazy world we live in.

    That, as…

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  • 35 Shots of Rum

    35 Shots of Rum


    Claire Denis's interest in textures, impressions and the contrast between movement and tranquility will likely never be my thing, but 35 Shots of Rum is probably the closest I've come to actually loving one of her films. It helps that the cues she takes from Yasujirō Ozu's Late Spring are stylistic as well as narrative: it's a film that revels in moments of peaceful stillness much in the manner of Ozu, but with Denis's trademark elliptical yet lingering pacing. A…

  • The Devil Is a Woman

    The Devil Is a Woman


    The plotting here is an issue for me: it's too threadbare for the film to make any kind of real impact as a story, but there's too much of it for it not to be a distraction. It's tied with Shanghai Express as the shortest Dietrich-von Sternberg film, and yet it's also easily their most tedious. Nevertheless, there's plenty here to admire: Dietrich's natural charisma radiates off the screen as much as ever, and even though I wasn't as impressed…

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