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  • Marius

    Marius

    ★★★★

    A delicately constructed world, rich in its sense of place—sound design evocatively creating a whole community as touches of local color come through in the locations and extras—and subdued, yet, atmospherically textured direction and cinematography—touches of poetic realism lend expressive beauty to the naturalistic location footage—add an enveloping beauty to Pagnol’s elegantly humanistic writing that affords every character with a rich inner life despite their archetypal nature and invests the quaint romantic drama with the fullness of life, the lives…

  • Something in the Air

    Something in the Air

    ★★★½

    With flowing, extended takes and a swirling camera, Assayas captures the passion, vibrancy, and charged atmosphere of the post-‘68 years in the lives of a group of adolescents, inhabiting the moment rather than historicizing it, he evokes the tumultuous clash of youth and a particularly vibrant socio-political and artistic era, the attendant passions of youthful exuberance and hormonal frenzy adding desperate urgency and emphaticism to the pitched tenor of the cultural turning point. The slow progression towards adulthood comes with…

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  • Sicario

    Sicario

    ★★★★

    The strength of Villeneuve's intensely muscular direction, Deakins's gloomily gorgeous and evocatively atmospheric cinematography, and Jóhannsson's lush score set a spectacularly grim, fatalistic air of dread-soaked taut tension that lends Sheridan's overly glib, cynically nihilistic drug-war horror story a pulpy tone. The film's pulpiness helps to trim away the shallow nihilism of its moral commentary by amplifying the gruesome horrors of the film's bleakly nihilistic world and the grim amorality of its characters, overpowering Sheridan's didactic intentions and delivering a…

  • The Mermaid

    The Mermaid

    ★★★★

    Riotous, bawdy, prankish satirical, Chow's absurdist, slapstick comedy is governed by an overwhelming goodwill and empathy for his characters—extending beyond the mermaid community to embrace Chao's brash tycoon, but leaving the rest of the characters open for his cutting satirical attacks—that cuts through it all to lend this bizarre mix of fantasy rom-com and social message film an overflowing spirit of joyous acceptance and an infectious hilarity. Chow brings a fierce enthusiasm to the film's bruising critique of nouveau riche…