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  • Portrait of a Lady on Fire

    Portrait of a Lady on Fire

    ★★★★

    As much about the power art can possess as it is about love. Its first half, which ends with the film getting rather uncomfortably didactic, is put to great use in its second half to sneak up on you. A very affecting film that's not at all shy about doing some meta-commentary along the way. All being said, the necessary byproduct of such a film is the tendency to make look every frame a painting, which, while beautiful to look at, tends to break the illusion at times. (This was particularly bothersome in some of the most intimate moments.)

  • The Apartment

    The Apartment

    ★★★★½

    The Apartment is certainly not without its faults. The second act drags a tad, the melodramatic tones can sometimes feel overbearing, but Wilder's juggling of numerous emotions feels nothing but masterful — not only that, but I feel there's a philosophical undertone to this film that doesn't get enough attention. I consider this film to be Wilder's rebuke of rising individualism and cutthroat capitalism, which are vital components to achieve the so-called American Dream. Whether you're a Baxter, or a…

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  • The Wild Pear Tree

    The Wild Pear Tree

    ★★★

    I traveled 5 hours to see The Wild Pear Tree in the city it was shot in, but I was simply underwhelmed with it.

    If you're familiar with Ceylan’s works, the film can simply be summed up as a mixture of Clouds of May and Winter Sleep. The film tries to achieve the earnestness of Clouds of May with the impeccable execution (both in dialogue and direction) of Winter Sleep but it ends up achieving neither. This feels like Ceylan’s…

  • Rebels of the Neon God

    Rebels of the Neon God

    ★★★★

    I can't stop thinking about Rebels of the Neon God's opening sequence.

    Hsiao-Kang notices a cockroach aimlessly wandering into his room. He then walks up to it and traps this worthless creature in the most cruelest way possible, and after he's had his fun, he throws it out the window. But it being a cockroach, comes back and sticks on the closed window while it's raining outside — eager to make the same mistake it initially did by entering the room.

    If that's not the perfect metaphor of youth, I don't know what is.

    Great start to my journey into Tsai Ming-liang's filmography.