Javier

Writer. Literary translator. Coffee lover.

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  • Into the Inferno

    Into the Inferno

    ★★★★

    Werner Herzog's warm reminder that ash and magma shall engulf us all. Volcanoes are the excuse; impermanence the theme. But what a gloriously shot excuse, lava flowing like a heraclitean acid trip. Begins in Vanuatu with the crew worried Herzog will try and launch them inside the volcano. (They have reason to worry). I've always loved Herzog's nonfiction more than his fiction—his Bavarian demons are more endearing in this format (they truly do run free). Here he's after the demonology,…

  • Mrs. America

    Mrs. America

    ★★★

    Cate Blanchett as conservative anti-feminist Phyllis Schlafly in a shocking antihero performance—at times you root for her on the basis of sheer willpower and force alone. There's pleasure in demolition and she makes an art out of it. It's a very actorly turn and it needs to be—Phyllis is masklike, a parody of femininity, chronically overqualified—but she makes ample use of her natural strengths too. Those cheekbones and that smile go from proud to terrorizing at will. Blanchett hints at…

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  • Parasite

    Parasite

    ★★★★

    Spectacular shape-shifting satire on modern-day capitalism. (Poetic that it should not come from the West). Trespassing isn’t just the film’s delicious central concept: it’s Bong Joon-ho’s defining gift as an artist. Genre rules assume different functions in his films: events that pass for “plot twists” are actually jolts in tone revealing underlying truths.

    Sliding from the cramped to the spacious, PARASITE has been architecturally thought out. This isn't some Marxist class war: it's a struggle for vital breathing space. Astutely,…

  • Joker

    Joker

    ★★★

    A strange film oscillating between self-absorption and frankness. If the filmmaking is often cynical, the actor holding it together is most definitely not. Joaquin Phoenix gives a thrilling, major performance that turns ‘joy’ into a kind of macabre performance art: the depressed, mentally ill social misfit unable to experience “a single moment of happiness” in his life as our clown, our stand-up comedian. He exists in a total state of discomfort that in turn makes us uncomfortable. Faking happiness becomes…