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  • Vertigo

    Vertigo

    "Judy, it can't matter to you."

    For someone like myself, who values visual form and style as much as narrative, writing about this movie presents a real challenge. The story and plotting of Vertigo are perhaps the finest in all of movies: there's the slam-bang intro; the languorous first movement, with the development of mystery and the growing romance joined as one; the violent rupture; and then a new love, a new mystery, with us one crucial step ahead of…

  • Boyz n the Hood

    Boyz n the Hood

    For me, this has lost none of its power; in fact, this viewing brought out my most emotional response to the film yet. Singleton's debut is strong stuff, and while it's probably not a masterpiece, I'd count it as one of the most important American films ever made. Seriously: it helped jump-start the second wave of black American cinema; relatedly, it did a lot to push hip-hop, particularly West Coast rap, into mainstream culture; it helped introduce the post-Reagan form…

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  • Manchester by the Sea

    Manchester by the Sea

    Here's a film that, for me, is as fun to talk around as it is to talk about. While watching, and enjoying, it I kept thinking about how so much value in cinephilic discourse is placed on the foregrounding of artifice. Classical Hollywood is loved for its lack of realism, and for the way standardized production served to throw personal style into relief; and with nearly every major auteur besides, what's admired is heavy formal intervention. What we cinephiles seem…

  • In a Year with 13 Moons

    In a Year with 13 Moons

    So much to praise about this film, and most of its virtues are common in Fassbinder's work: the unbridled negativity; the rigorous framing of actors within their surroundings; the intellectualized approach to melodrama; the combination of sarcasm and deep, sincere feeling, to the negation of neither. But while works like Fear Eats the Soul, say, or Love is Colder then Death put forward simple, tightly focused narratives, this movie is dense, novelistic, and thickly populated. Fassbinder's Brechtian directness is there,…