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  • Outskirts

    Outskirts

    ★★★★½

    Although active as a director until his death by suicide in 1965, Boris Barnet is probably best known for his silent film work (e.g., The Girl with the Hatbox and Miss Mend). Outskirts (AKA The Patriots) was Barnet’s first sound movie and remains an unjustly underseen masterpiece of its era. The film is a comedy/drama about the residents of an unnamed town in rural Russia in the days leading up to World War I. It starts off as a comedy…

  • Mr. Thank You

    Mr. Thank You

    ★★★★★

    Like Yasujiro Ozu, Hiroshi Shimizu was one of the top directors at Shochiku Studios in the 1930s – although his work was virtually unknown in the West until the 21st century. Mr. Thank You is an astonishing film about a bus driver known for his politeness who travels from town to town through rural Japan. It takes place virtually in real time and was shot on a real bus traveling through the countryside (no rear projection was used), which makes…

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  • Like Someone in Love

    Like Someone in Love

    ★★★★★

    The late Chilean director Raul Ruiz’s indispensable book Poetics of Cinema argues against the necessity of “central conflict theory” that has long dominated commercial narrative filmmaking in the western world. If Abbas Kiarostami, one of the world’s greatest living directors, ever wrote a comparable book on film theory, one suspects he might similarly challenge the notion of the “three-act structure.” The Japanese-set Like Someone in Love may well be the Iranian master’s most provocative work; his extremely unconventional handling of…

  • Wild at Heart

    Wild at Heart

    ★★★★

    True story: I convinced my mother to take me to see this at the Manor Theatre in Charlotte, NC in the fall of 1990 when I was just 15-years-old (I had to be accompanied by a parent because it was an R-rated movie). My mom, a fairly conservative, southern, Christian woman, had never seen a David Lynch movie before but she vaguely knew him as the creator of TWIN PEAKS, a new television show that my younger brother and I…