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  • A Separation

  • Vortex

  • Mad Max: Fury Road

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  • A Separation

    A Separation

    A Separation. I was really into it at first: the people were fascinating, willful yet trying to be decent; and the layout of the apartment was great, and never shown except in pieces. Gradually I began to feel that emotional scenes were being hit hard just to amp up the drama, neglecting internal logic: I first felt it when the old father was found lying on the ground, but the pace of the dramatic punches increased as legal hassles started…

  • Vortex

    Vortex

    Vortex. (Spoilers ahead.) It quickly went to a split-screen format, more or less following each of the leads on half the screen: there were cuts, but I believe the screen halves stayed synchronized. I’m not sure that Noé got anything too amazing out of the concept: I can’t think of a moment where our attention was divided to especially powerful effect. The concept amounted to a vibe, emphasizing separateness: that’s not nothing, but it seems like a lot of effort…

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  • The Searchers

    The Searchers

    The Searchers. The critical spirit falters before the task of doing justice to John Ford’s 1956 magnum opus, one of those mysterious films that surpasses even what a great director should have been able to achieve. At first remove, The Searchers, the story of a quest to rescue a kidnapped girl from the Comanches, is about the emotional life of the adventurer, the hardened outsider, even the sociopath -- and no one who responds to John Wayne’s chilling performance as…

  • Back Street

    Back Street

    Back Street. From the beginning, total formal control, with icy tracking shots and closeups, scene transitions suspended in the emptiness of the last completed gesture, crowds, weather, everything one associates with mature Stahl. The story is classic Fannie Hurst, with a huge painful contrived coincidence ruining Dunne's life, and love as an immutable sentence condemning the heroine. Stahl and the writers push all of it to extremes: Boles in the middle section is hatefully selfish, and Stahl gazes at his…