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  • The Assassin

    The Assassin

    ★★★★

    A deeply gorgeous film, meditative and ethereal. The story is gossamer thin - it's vague to the point of almost non-existence, and often seemingly intentionally oblique. At one point, some wuxia action even hilariously takes place just off camera, fwip-fwip sword sound effects floating in from out of view. Most of all, the film is infused in every frame with nature: sifting wind through leaves, the glow of clenching embers, a drifting mist, singing insects, the dark immensity of the mountains. It's like taking a long breath in and out.

  • Taipei Story

    Taipei Story

    ★★★½

    A fuzzy, mood-infused portrait of lives that are struggling to move forward in a rapidly-changing city. Yang's direction is a joy, and everything in this film looks incredibly gorgeous (with the exception of Tsai Chin's perm - then again, it was a rough decade for everyone). The story I thought was a little clunky, though, a sort of half hearted flap of the wings that had to have either a stronger or fainter presence.

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  • Parasite

    Parasite

    ★★★★½

    Playful, assured, with just about every step along the way unexpected. As usual Bong positively pirouettes with his film's tone, and at times my face wasn't sure what expression it was supposed to be making. Cho Yeo-jeong, as the angelically gullible mother, stands out among the solid cast. It's interesting that this film won the Palme d'Or in the year after Koreeda's Shoplifters - both capture something in the air of this strange part of history.

  • The Florida Project

    The Florida Project

    ★★★★½

    There's a strange magic to Sean Baker's depiction of desparate lives in budget motels near Disneyland. While the underlying story is undeniably depressing, the film is somehow also brimming with joy: it's bright, charming, and popping with energy and colour - a thick lick of tropical paint glooped over a dismal facade. Just about everything about the film is magnificent, with wonderful performances across the board (including a surprising cameo from Sandy Kane).