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  • Detective Dee: The Four Heavenly Kings

    Detective Dee: The Four Heavenly Kings

    ★★★★

    how to give your life and heart to a regime that will destroy you

  • Artist

    Artist

    ★★★★

    unsettling chamber piece from shyamaprasad - a young couple drops out of college and gives up everything to be together, but quickly the relationship is revealed to be toxic, mostly through his entitlement and egotism (qualities she finds difficult to confront). their relationship stretches to a breaking point before outside events conspire to force them together again, and the film in its second half becomes even more claustrophobic as it moves towards a more permanent break.

    shyamaprasad's smartest decision might…

  • Laplace's Witch

    Laplace's Witch

    ★★★★

    miike in director for hire mode, with those usual pleasures - an offhand seriousness, the way that nearly every frame is at least twice as dense with detail as it needs to be. but i love the way this builds to something a little melancholy and abstract, the schematic conflict (the old murderer filmmaker who thinks he can control things, the savant molecular demons children who actually can control everything but are subject to passion and grief) subsumed by the…

  • Amar Akbar Anthony

    Amar Akbar Anthony

    ★★

    for awhile it seems like srinu vaitla's algebraic approach to masala plotting and sheer late auteur oddness (this is set mostly in the u.s. but for awhile all the white actors seem to be dubbed by eastern europeans and many of sets just studio interiors with ostentatious green screens).

    but this is sadly the weakest of vaitla's recent films by far - the two leads seemed lost in the plot mechanics, the comedy track merges with the drama well enough…

  • Nadodikkattu

    Nadodikkattu

    ★★★½

    they don't have bhagyaraj posters in dubai

  • Prayanam

    Prayanam

    ★★★★

    debut film by writing/directing team padmarajan and bharathan. a young woman, oldest of four daughters, gets married off to an aging widower in a dying brahmin village. a young man, his family long since exiled to city, comes back to his uncle's house. of course they have an affair, of course it ends badly.

    home and tradition and exile, complicated by bharathan and padmarajan with their focus on very complicated erotics, a beautifully observed mise en scene (shot by soon…

  • Naachiyaar

    Naachiyaar

    ★★★½

    bala's inspecteur lavardin; bleak knot of social dread wound around a central cop/detective figure who both provides the moral catharsis of detective fiction and a sour commentary on that genre, depending on which eye you squint at the movie with. if it feels a little rushed (both in its 98 minute runtime and as a relatively low budget, quick turnaround production) that's not really a complaint per se, there are moments and gestures of real power here and the way it manages to be both queasy and hopeful in the end is fascinating.

  • Vada Chennai

    Vada Chennai

    ★★★★½

    like getting just one verse from desperados waiting for a train; one side of a great, seething world of a neighborhood. fate turns over and there will be a justice even if it leaves lives ruined behind it.

  • Mr. India

    Mr. India

    ★★★★★

    evil is insidious, ostentatious and weird. hunger is hunger. sri devi is sri devi.

  • Thotti Jaya

    Thotti Jaya

    ★★★½

    the opening credits, in which orphaned dish washer thotti jaya goes from cringing in fear to learning that violence is his key to survival, are one of the great true masala sequences of the 2000s. at its best this film boils the form down to its elemental core. if it's all a little thin that final fight - simbu covered in blood, the wind (machine) and flying leaves, the burned out highs from the spot lights in the night photography,…

  • Bhooloham

    Bhooloham

    ★★½

    a mess, and ludicrously over-plotted during the middle third. pivots between ethnographic cartoonish (in the north chennai sections) and purely cartoonish (in the future sports network sections). but the boxing scenes are wonderful, and the way this pushes the manipulation of boxers by tv network as metaphor for manipulation of labour by global capital (explicitly called out in the final monologue) is genuinely moving.

  • Ash Is Purest White

    Ash Is Purest White

    ★★★½

    When I was a young girl well, I had me a cowboy
    He weren't much to look at, just free rambling man
    But that was a long time and no matter how I try
    The years just flow by like a broken down dam