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  • The Graceful Brute

    The Graceful Brute

    ★★★★

    Shown as part of the Shohei Imamura career retrospective making the Cinemateque rounds. Director Yuzo Kawashima was one of Imamura's mentors and a central influence on the tone and style of his films. This is one of Kawashima's last features (he died prematurely at age 45), a rarely seen in North America claustrophobia inducing pitch black comedy. A sort of grifter chamber drama almost entirely set within the tight confines of the small apartment in a shabby tenement, where an…

  • Kiss Me Goodbye

    Kiss Me Goodbye

    ★★

    Despite being a complete misfire, I found this Robert Mulligan loose remake of the 1976 smash Brazillian hit Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands (which once held a 35 year long box office record for a Brazilian film in its home market) sort of fascinating exercise in American morality on film. A rom-com menage a trois of sorts - the story is about a woman’s erotic longing for her ne’er do well carpe diem embracing deceased husband while being in…

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  • A Few Days with Me

    A Few Days with Me

    ★★★½

    After a few corker Lino Ventura genre flics (the Criterion collection approved Classe tous risques and the less talked about and seen but equally cool L'Arme à gauche) director Claude Sautet in the 70s settled into a series of elegant relationship dramas with complex character dynamics, ultimately creating a sort of intimate realism that suggests anti-melodrama. His final stretch of films, particularly the lauded Un Coeur en hiver and Nelly & Monsieur Arnaud, were even more carefully measured and languid than…

  • Crazy Mama

    Crazy Mama

    ★★½

    The hang-out film moniker is typically meant as a compliment but it occurred to me (in a blinding flash of the obvious) it’s equally applicable to the roaming amiable flicks that you don’t really have to pay attention to - check in for 10 minutes here 10 minutes there, no problem ignoring the pause button when you’re hitting the restroom or making a mid-film popcorn run at the drive-in; you’ll catch the bits you missed the next time you half…

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  • Mank

    Mank

    ★★★

    Was lead to believe this was all about the film buff authorship bun fight (this element is really only specifically and awkwardly shoehorned in at the end) but it felt more like both a partisan election year film (with a too late release date) and a belated apology by proxy to the talented Marion Davies (put me on team Amanda Seyfried for MVP). Uneven (the first portion expository dialogue is like bad Sorkin) but pretty impressive once it settles in.…

  • The Last Wagon

    The Last Wagon

    ★★★★

    If you watch enough CinemaScope films that were released by 20th Century-Fox during the mid-fifties you start to realize that the camera typically seemed imprisoned. While the pretty vistas became more awe inspiring as the result of the wide frame the filmmaking became more staid, with little but static shots and minimal cuts (an occasional pan, but few tracking shots). As the filmmakers technical tools became more cumbersome montage took a back seat, and even exotic location shot scenes could…