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  • Fires on the Plain

    Fires on the Plain

    ★★★★★

    There are so many shocking and striking scenes that it's a whole separate kind of wonder that these brutal set pieces also make up a narrative. The strafing, the bit with the boots, the revelation that it's not monkey... Holy shit, this film.

  • Europa

    Europa

    ★★★★

    This visually striking, often beautiful, film opened my eyes to a situation I'd never really given much thought to -- what life was like in Germany immediately following WWII. The sense of shock and of guilt, the material deprivation and devastation... It's all thrown into sharp relief here as our hero, a German-American pacifist, returns to Germany to work as, of all things, a train conductor. His travels being him into the orbit of a prominent industrial family as well…

  • Love Affair, or the Case of the Missing Switchboard Operator

    Love Affair, or the Case of the Missing Switchboard Operator

    ★★★★

    The intervals with sexologists, criminologists and coroners will make it hard not to think of Rocky Horror at times, but this earthy, off-kilter case study of the " modern" (1967) city girl in, maybe Sarajevo?, is very much its own thing. Eva Ras is so adorable that today they'd cast her as Supergirl, while Slobodan Aligrudnic has a sweet, undernourished charm of his own. What stole the film for me, though, was the setting, a city beyond the Iron Curtain…

  • The Element of Crime

    The Element of Crime

    ★★★★★

    Some of the most elegant and imaginative super - impositions and transitions grace this dreamy, sepia -toned mystery of a film. Combine this with the quiet and turgid narration from a main character recalling events under hypnosis and you have a compulsively watchable movie. The plot is beside the point, or could be if it weren't so intriguing.

    The occasional flashes of blue-green light throw it all into hyper- reality.

    And then there's the sort of Greek chorus commentary of the Egyptian hypnotist's remarks...

    The only film I can compare it to is Hearts of Glass. Fantastic. Six out of five stars.

  • The Legend Floyd: The Dark Side of the Rainbow

    The Legend Floyd: The Dark Side of the Rainbow

    ★★★★

    Excuse me, now I have to go read Philip K. Dick's VALIS trilogy and listen to OK Computer now 8)

  • Arrival

    Arrival

    ★★½

    There were a lot of neat ideas in this but they got better play in China Mieville's novel Embassytown. The leads were boring and the big surprise was no surprise and really on the nose. I was ready to love this film but wound up pretty disappointed.

  • The Rite

    The Rite

    ★★★★½

    An intimate, at times claustrophobic work, full of tight close-ups on nervous faces, often beaded with sweat or smeared with disintegrating stage make-up, this film is designed to mess with your head even as it distracts you with titillating but irrelevant questions. Why are these actors in trouble? Who is this judge? What are the stakes? Why is Sebastian always wearing sunglasses, when he has Anders Ek's eyes behind them?

    We expect Ingrid Thulin to steal the show in her…

  • Passengers

    Passengers

    ★★★

    Predictable but pretty.

  • Swiss Army Man

    Swiss Army Man

    ★★★★

    For a film whose central message seems to be that it's easier to fantasize a whole bizarre yet fulfilling relationship with a corpse that washed up on a beach than to talk to a lady, this is surprisingly enjoyable. Even if you don't think farts are especially funny on the whole. They are here, brothers and sisters. They are here.

    Except when they're kind of tragic?

  • The Last Bolshevik

    The Last Bolshevik

    ★★★★½

    I came for the title and stayed for the extraordinary story of a filmmaker I now want to know even more about!!!

  • There Will Be Blood

    There Will Be Blood

    ★★★★

    I always forget how long this film runs before there's any actual dialogue. We even manage to learn the lesson character's name without anyone speaking. It could be a silent film.

  • High-Rise

    High-Rise

    ★★★★½

    I'm a big Ballard fan, and I dig what I've seen of Ben Wheatley, so my expectations going into this were very high. They were met. This is an excellent adaptation of the novel, one that manages to make the story both darker and funnier (mostly with ironic juxtapositions that should have seemed tired, but, strangely, didn't), and the cast is Of the supporting cast I especially enjoyed James Purefoy add the quintessential 1970s toff gone right off the rails.…