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  • The Birth of a Nation

    The Birth of a Nation

    ★★½

    In terms of criticism, The Birth of a Nation is one of the great reflecting pools in film history: read someone's critique, and see how feeble or strong they are a critic. The perfunctory gesture which reveals a perfunctory critic is to single out the overt racism and pseudohistory at work, and to declare that it fails as art because of its moral failings. On the opposing shore, we have the more sturdy criticasters deifying this film as a masterwork,…

  • Uncut Gems

    Uncut Gems

    ★★★

    The prevalence of reflective surfaces, prismatic arrangements of frames-within-frames, and the opalescent streaks which flit across the screen, recalling the gem which is the film's talisman and centerpiece, make for a more interesting visual schema than what I saw in Good Time. An enjoyable enough film.

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  • Ugetsu

    Ugetsu

    ★★★★★

    I could gush all day about this film. I could talk of the aerial shots of Kutsuki manor, the gnarled branches in the foreground reflecting the ensnaring presence that haunts the castle. I could talk of the lakeside fog, at once eerie, at once evocative of its travelers' myopia and misgivings. I could talk of the fluidity with which Mizoguchi inserts the preternatural into his world, done so adeptly that even the viewer is uncertain of what is real and…

  • Nostos: The Return

    Nostos: The Return

    ★★★★★

    Erich Auerbach conceived of The Odyssey's (and Homer's epics in general) mimetic configuration as a "procession of phenomena," i.e., every object that captures the focus of the narrative is foregrounded and then explicated before being superseded by the next. Piavoli captures this approach visually, lingering over the the physical material -- the moon, the sun, the shadows and sea and the forests and metal -- that constitute and direct Odysseus' journey -- made more relevant in their preponderance as it…