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  • Primate

    Primate

    ★★★★

    “Fred likes institutions like Fellini likes the circus.”
    - Errol Morris

    Among Wiseman’s funniest films - “a riot,” he deadpanned - Primate is also one of his most chilling, sitting in sober attendance at the point between a total lack of empathy (the humans) and absence of agency (apes), with seemingly no ethical comment on the dilemma of that position. The line on Wiseman is that he never intrudes on his work, never builds a polemic into his montage, but…

  • Gaman

    Gaman

    ★★★½

    Adjust accordingly, vis-à-vis your exposure to Indian cinema of the period, but it occurred to me about an hour into Gaman that I was watching a different kind of realism than I'm typically used to. It's possibly budgetary/environmental limitations/conditions bleeding into Ali's intended texture, but I've rarely seen such a stark, pragmatic view of poverty in cinema, and to experience it through bursts of rhythmic montage - incorporating a stunning score and the thrumming diegetic percussion of street bustle -…

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  • Hard to Be a God

    Hard to Be a God

    ★★★★

    With more farts than Blazing Saddles and enough vomit to rival Bad Taste, Aleksej German's final film is so vivid that you'd think it had revived smell-o-vision.

    Like František Vláčil's Marketa Lazarová, this medievil epic - set on the planet Arkanar, which in its 13th Century is experiencing its Renaissance - is influenced little by plot, and instead cocoons the viewer into its primitive speck of the macrocosm. The idea is time travel - not so much evoking a period…

  • Inherent Vice

    Inherent Vice

    ★★★★

    Strange Rhythms...

    - Best opening/closing title of 2015 (so far, but it'll be hard to beat).

    - It's a fruitless comparison, but the opening image, of a Pacific vista sandwiched between two beach huts, and focalized by their gates closed back-to-back, reminds me of the second shot of Ozu's Floating Weeds, where the view of a vast ocean is hemmed by two boats, and a lighthouse in the far background offers a centre (I couldn't find screencaps of those shots,…