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  • Naked Childhood

    Naked Childhood

    ★★★★

    A foster kid, François, intentionally spills his soup onto the floor. He’s locked in his room as punishment. He kicks out a panel of the door and crawls into the hallway, where his foster father and brother, having just come up the stairs, grab hold of him, and carry him back into the room and onto the bed. The foster mother brings a rag and hands it to the father, telling him to use it to slap François, which he…

  • Sunset Song

    Sunset Song

    ★★★★★

    It’s not improper to describe Sunset Song as austere, but that seems to me like too severe a word, too close to puritanical. A better word would be patient. This is a film that embraces beauty, even loves it, yet doesn’t hold tight to it. It exalts in a person’s capacity to be still in an otherwise fleeting world—a world that was constantly at war even before humans intervened—and it dwells on the possibility of peace built not by privilege…

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  • The Revenant

    The Revenant

    ★★★

    Lubezki’s wide-angle proximity to the action has (mostly) the desired visceral effect, which may even be further heightened by the reminders that we’re watching Leo et al really freeze their asses off, though the same is partially responsible for distancing the audience from the story’s emotional currency. The one-on-one combat scenes are impressively choreographed and edited: their rhythms remind me of the black & white prologue of Casino Royale, which is good company to keep. Some of the dialogue is nicely…

  • Only Lovers Left Alive

    Only Lovers Left Alive

    ★★★★½

    Impressive for its obsessive focus on character—really, the only thing that it has going on—which manages to avoid devolving into explanation or even adoration, retaining an observational distance that perfectly amplifies its mood of optimistic discord. Most of the vampire lore takes the form of creative allusion, which makes it quite fun—down to the proposition that Shakespeare’s plays were all written by Christopher Marlowe, who is really a vampire.

    Hiddleston and Swinton play Adam and Eve with an appropriate pall,…