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  • Like Grains of Sand

    Like Grains of Sand

    ★★★½

    Establishes an inviting atmosphere right away: the erotically framed bodies in the locker room; the emphasis on ritualised repetition; the silence and heat of the shed fused to desire; and then the sun-stroked collapse, plus the eruption of white powder. Hashiguchi holds his takes for an impressively long time, often starting with silence (suffused with repressed longing), then introducing elements that add richness and detail, while redirecting the presumed focus of the scenes: e.g. the scene in Yoshida's room, which…

  • Tree of Knowledge

    Tree of Knowledge

    ★★★★½

    A remarkable film, but one whose pleasures seem beyond the realms of most narrative cinema (or most cinema in general). It's firmly rooted in character, but almost perversely resistant to any sort of narrative schema; its actions and movements often exist for their own sake, as flashes of behavioural insight and observation untethered from typical story progression or thematic payload (for which the classroom setting proves ideal). So, e.g. the central metaphor cued by the title doesn't even register as…

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  • First Reformed

    First Reformed

    ★★½

    A film built on various contradictions and oppositions: an austere, barely-populated church straight out of Bergman yoked to the behemoth prosperity gospel institution of Abundant Life; a son (Joseph, "the dreamer") sacrificed in "a war without moral justification" and a 'son' (Philip Ettinger's Michael) lost in the moral quandary of a decaying earth ("Will God forgive us?"); a Märta figure à la Winter Light (Victoria Hill's Esther) seen as a constant reminder of earthly inadequacy, placed against Amanda Seyfried's Mary,…

  • Primer

    Primer

    ★★★★½

    90/100

    Man, do you wanna watch Primer? I haven't seen it since later this afternoon.