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  • Ludwig

    Ludwig

    ★★★

    [alienation, anxiety, paranoia, escapism, metatheatre]

    A challenge to sit through. Explicates similar themes as in The Leopard, but by more theatrical design and far less visual urgency and weight.

  • The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

    The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

    ★★★★

    [death, violence, lore, metatheatre]

    The Coen's typically bull-headed, one-note Sisyphean nihilism is mercifully divided between multiple Gothic stories and characters to improved effect. Enjoyed the aesthetic conflict/undercurrent between theatrical design (pale blues/artificial light/props) against vast landscapes (warmer yellows/natural light).

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  • Arrival

    Arrival

    ★★★★★

    [time, memory, love, survival, language, communication, connection, metacinema]

    Perhaps the most stimulating and illuminating sci-fi film I've encountered since 2001, and not for its visual style or technical wizardry, but for its exploration of themes, narrative structure, and dedication to character subjectivity and emotion.

    Adams' emotional fidelity is deep and moving, and the flashbacks that accompany her performance could not have been realized more effectively.

    I should also note that this is the most stylistically subtle Villeneuve I've seen, and…

  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

    Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

    [identity, war, camaraderie]

    A jumble of flat characters, info dumps, tropes, plot elongation, canned dialogue, and lackluster VFX/SFX framed without intention and cut in a way that avoids all danger.

    I've always loved the Star Wars universe for its infinite potential, but these recent films make it feel so small.