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  • Surface Tension

    Surface Tension

    This is one of those movies where the art is almost its own alibi: the frustration and dissatisfaction you might feel could be part of the very intent. I liked the movie overall, but I find the first section overextended (but hey, that's the point, right?); the German-language voiceover in the second section obfuscatory (but that's the point, right?); and the text in the third section thematically obtuse to the detriment of understanding (but that's... anyway).

    I don't mean to…

  • Beach Rats

    Beach Rats

    Good but not great, I guess. The sensuality and the sense of dread are mutually reinforcing, which is partly down to the story and partly down to the style. The filmmaker uses fragmentation, minimalism and a simultaneous sense of psychological distance and physical intimacy; the mixture is a bit too familiar to me at this point. The way the character burrows his way deeper and deeper into an untenable situation is very well sketched. Maintaining even a half-assed level of…

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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…

  • Boogie Nights

    Boogie Nights

    I first saw this during its theatrical run--on my birthday, if I remember right--and today I feel the same way about it as I did then, a lifetime ago. That's rare for me: I've been through so many phases as a cinephile, each one involving much rethinking and visceral rewiring, that very few movies carry the feel of my first viewing of them.

    I imagine that every serious, active, critical movie lover has films that they cherish without ignoring their…