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  • Hard Paint

    Hard Paint

    ★★★½

    This melancholic tale about a self-loathing gay webcam performer in Porto Alegre, Brazil is incredibly specific in its depictions of sexuality and homophobia, yet universalized in its exploration of social anxieties and deep alienation. Most of the characters here seek vectors of escape, whether they take the form of geographical relocation, dancefloor abandon, or the neon-splashed cam shows that the protagonist uses to eke out a living. These scenes, which are at once sensual and sad, provide a distinct visual contrast to the flatly filmed cityscapes and functionally furnished apartments that reflect the sad holding patterns of these characters’ lives.

  • Isle of Dogs

    Isle of Dogs

    ★★★½

    Overall, this is quite charming, but it’s decidedly more successful in its throwaway gags and its grace notes than in its overall narrative structure. I suppose I’m more of a Fox person…

  • Cowards Bend the Knee

    Cowards Bend the Knee

    ★★★★½

    Ice hockey, incest, abortion, revenge, and voyeurism provide some of the elements that make up Cowards Bend the Knee, a serialized and satirical melodrama that plays out under the close scrutiny of a microscope. Created by Canadian retro-auteur Guy Maddin, it features his cheeky brand of expressionism in what might be the fullest expression of it that he’s yet achieved. A slightly more sedate version of the style utilized in his justly acclaimed short The Heart of the World is…

  • Cremaster 3

    Cremaster 3

    ★★★★½

    Matthew Barney’s extravagant new art film Cremaster 3 is at once a tough pill to swallow and a minor miracle of self-expression. Tackling many of the same themes that Cocteau did in his 1930 masterwork The Blood of a Poet, Barney ends his five film Cremaster series with a surprisingly coherent and approachable installment that obviously stands as the series’ magnum opus. I haven’t lived in New York City long enough to have seen all of Barney’s series, and he…

  • Cremaster 2

    Cremaster 2

    ★★★★

    Easily the most plot-driven in all of Matthew Barney’s Cremaster cycle, Cremaster 2 still conveys the thematic obsessions that drive the series, and stands as one of its most accessible entries. The very first image in the film is a close-up of a glass-covered saddle that’s been suspended in midair with its straps levitating above its seat. Barney films this saddle at first so that it looks like an ovular symbol, but as his camera slowly zooms out, its true…

  • Cremaster 1

    Cremaster 1

    ★★★★

    To thematically, if not chronologically, kick off his five-film Cremaster cycle, sculptor/filmmaker Matthew Barney made Cremaster 1, a forty-odd minute long look in, above, under, and around a complex visual metaphor. It’s the start of the series that, among other things, metaphorically chronicles the biological process from the sexually undifferentiated state that exists at conception to the full realization of the sexual identity, which occurs with the maturation of the gonads. Because this is the first entry in that cycle,…

  • CQ

    CQ

    ★★

    Roman Coppola’s debut feature CQ begins as a promising mod-style romp through Paris, 1969, but as it progresses, the film begins to unravel. Under the guise of an intensely personal chronicle of an aspiring filmmaker’s attempts to cope with personal and professional stresses, the movie unfortunately reveals itself to be a relatively empty exercise in some very stylish style. The accomplished opening scenes of the film establish Paul (Jeremy Davies) as an editor on the crew of a troubled campy…

  • Crazy/Beautiful

    Crazy/Beautiful

    ★★

    Crazy/Beautiful is a relatively by-the-book teen drama that gets points for its social consciousness. The film, which focuses on two young lovers (Kirsten Dunst and Jay Hernandez), is more aware than most genre entries of racial difference and class structure. The film is surprisingly bold in many of its choices and flies in the face of conventional Hollywood attitudes toward such things. Race is not an immediate issue to the successful congressman, but to a lower-class Latino family it’s a…

  • The Crime of Padre Amaro

    The Crime of Padre Amaro

    ★★

    El Crimen del Padre Amaro, Carlos Carrera’s limp attack on organized religion, is a soggy melodrama that never builds its laundry list of wild incidents into something that’s either emotionally engaging or a potent political attack. One can’t help but wonder what all of the real-world fuss, which has lead to an insane amount of controversy in the film’s native Mexico, is about, especially since the source material for the picture is a novel that was written in 1875. Though…

  • Porco Rosso

    Porco Rosso

    ★★★½

    “A pig who doesn’t fly is just an ordinary pig,” says Crimson Pig, the aviator at the center of Japanese animation master Hayao Miyazaki’s The Crimson Pig (Kurenai no buta). Rest assured that the hero of this fairy tale is no ordinary pig, and this is no ordinary animated film. Resembling in its best moments a fanciful version of Casablanca with a porcine Bogey in the lead, the movie mixes espionage, dogfights, comedy, and romance with surprising grace. Unlike most…

  • Crossroads

    Crossroads

    ★★★

    Broaching the topics of artistic creativity and self-definition with a level of symbolic intensity not seen in recent cinema outside of Matthew Barney’s brilliant Cremaster cycle, Tamra Davis’ virtuoso, vastly underrated epic Crossroads redefines the road movie by fitting it into the teen flick genre, leaving an eminently approachable film that speaks to the core of the modern American experience. At the start of the film, young Lucy Wagner (tenderly played by musical artist Britney Spears) finds herself on the…

  • Coup de Torchon

    Coup de Torchon

    ★★★½

    Set in a small town (pop. 1280, and dwindling) in French controlled West Africa during the 1930’s, Bertrand Tavernier’s Coup de Torchon is a black-hearted farce that follows Lucien (Philippe Noiret), a bumbling and corrupt police chief, as he begins to redefine what justice is in a land that’s plagued by racism and economic exploitation. The people of the town don’t respect Lucien’s authority, since he can be bribed and never seems to arrest anyone in power, despite their obvious…