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  • Some Came Running

    Some Came Running

    ★★★★

    Better known for his musicals and colorful excesses, I find in Minnelli an ironically key precursor to a certain aesthetic the defined U.S. independent cinema of the late 80s and early 90s. In films like The Clock, this one and even frosted cakes like An American in Paris and Meet Me in St. Louis, he shows a tendency to focus on passages that favor transit, quiet presence, psychological exploration, and marginal spaces and characters. These passages are then put in…

  • Performance

    Performance

    ★★★

    In the end, it works because it cares about pleasure and pretty much abandons artistic self-seriousness early on. Throws a lot of stuff to the canvas and eventually a solid aesthetic emerges, never losing sight of the dualities that keep it together thematically: genre conventions and narrative freedom, social conventions and their subversion, masculinity and femininity, peace/love and violence… All of which seems to materialize in Mick Jagger’s fascinating and provocative screen persona. His presence is as crystallizing as Bowie’s…

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  • I Promise You Anarchy

    I Promise You Anarchy

    ★★★★

    A somewhat contemplative study bent by a morality twist, a bit Kiarostami, a bit Van Sant's Paranoid Park, but director Julio Hernández Cordón has made a film very much his own, with an assured hand in the orchestration. At first it all seems like a romanticized take on aimless, hedonist skater slackers, whose moments of recreation are framed by one monetary (or business) transaction after another, a reminder of the world we live in. But all that we've seen is…

  • La La Land

    La La Land

    ★★★

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    Enjoyable, well-made sugar rush of a pastiche that wears its references on its sleeve. This is a reworking of themes Damien Chazelle already explored in Whiplash, though here the girl (Mia) is granted an equal dose of artistic ambition as the guy (Ryan Gosling). Tellingly, though, we don’t really get to see her art, as we do him—only her ambition. This is symptomatic of a problem that keeps this film from reaching heaven and leaves it at the level of…