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  • Letters from Iwo Jima

    Letters from Iwo Jima

    ★★★½

    It struck me while watching this that maybe Truffaut was wrong about war films because he never considered that defending a military objective is vastly different from attacking it - how many other war movies have there been about the full, infantry-based defence of a non-urban objective?

    The historian-scientists entering the Iwo Jima caves ask, "How did those soldiers ever manage to dig out these tunnels?" This is exactly the same question every soldier will ask himself after he has…

  • Faust

    Faust

    ★★★★★

    Murnau, in full command of light and shadow, films the only truly convincing cinematic representation of the powers of heaven and hell. Mephisto in his full satanic form and the Archangel are alien and terrible, standing starkly outside and beyond the realm of the human. Their figures seem untouchable; they transfix and dominate. "Awe-inspiring" comes to mind here in the precise sense that awe is a combination, in equal parts, of terror and wonder; awe freezes fast the awe-inspired.

    The…

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  • Edvard Munch

    Edvard Munch

    ★★★★★

    There is no establishing shot for the most tormented depths of the soul. Instead, only sideways glances into the camera, and zooms.

  • Daughters of the Dust

    Daughters of the Dust

    ★★★★★

    The filmmakers of the L.A. Rebellion were unequivocal: "Our task is to reconstruct cultural memory, not slavishly imitate white models."

    Julie Dash films with intensity, empathy, and, above all, that ~certain something~ that might be called "lyricism," or maybe "poeticism," or even "sensualism." These are all words that I'd associate closely with Malick and that tender, dreamlike grandiosity he tends to shoot for. But I would hesitate to apply these words to Dash; she's on a different level entirely.

    If…