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  • The Oyster Princess

    The Oyster Princess

    ★★★★

    "Ernst Lubitsch had a nose for class, an ear for wealth, and an eye for sex – so why do we only ever talk about his touch? More than any other in Hollywood, the Berlin-born director was in full command of his senses, and above all, the man had taste. Always chewing a long cigar and sporting a pointed pocket square, he seemed possessed of a cool, urbane mien and ticklish wit, and there’s not a single Lubitsch-themed anecdote that…

  • Insiang

    Insiang

    ★★★★

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    Shot in a seven-day Fullerian blitz in the miasmic Manila slums, Insiang is a genre film like none that I've seen outside of the exploitation realm. It's also, for my money, a more accomplished fusion of documentary realism and melodrama than Claws of Light - both are rather didactic, deck-stacking narratives, but Insiang benefits being pared to the sinew, boxing Hilda Koronel's hero deeper and deeper into the nooks of the house/frame until we expect her to burst, only for…

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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,…