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  • Ash Is Purest White

    Ash Is Purest White

    ★★★★★

    NZIFF 2018: Film #10

    While I'm not sure if, from one viewing during a weekend stacked with films, I was in the best frame of mind to appreciate everything Jia had to say with Ash is Purest White, it certainly helps to view it in the context of the work that preceded it, and in doing so I feel fairly comfortable stating that I find this to be his finest film. Continuing his career-long obsession with the changing face of…

  • First Reformed

    First Reformed

    ★★★★★

    NZIFF 2018: Film #8

    Reverend Toller can no longer pray. The long shadow of alienation and depression has descended upon him and he feels coldly disconnected from most of those around him. Make no mistake, Toller is not rejecting, or even really questioning, his faith in God. But his faith in humanity is being tried, slowly and wearily. As he states in his many diary entries, which are often infused with a mixture of self-pity and self-loathing, he can no…

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  • First Man

    First Man

    ★★★★½

    Not much to add here that hasn't already been said, but this was dazzling. Linus Sandgren's intimate hand-held photography worked beautifully to accentuate the expressive but unshowy performances of Gosling and Foy. His work particularly dominates during the flight sequences, lending the three major ones - the opening, Gemini 8, and Apollo 11 - a sense of calamitous, impending doom. Love the way that, in the Gemini 8 sequence especially, Chazelle and Sandgren emphasize just how flimsy and fragile these…

  • M.I.A.: Born Free

    M.I.A.: Born Free

    ★★★★½

    In the current political climate especially, this is painfully resonant. Even though it is not especially subtle or nuanced, that is the point. There is no subtlety or nuance to genocide. It is meaningless murder. The song itself, which is one of M.I.A.'s best, pulses mechanistically, oppressed by a cavernous bass and explosive, rattling percussion. Her voice blares high in the mix, and she seethes with a justified rage and rebellious playfulness as she makes sure we know that "I…

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  • The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence)

    The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence)

    ½

    Having just sat through what is almost certainly one of the most disgusting films ever made, and arguing with one person defending it, I have mulled over The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) for much longer than it deserves. My conclusion is very simple: it is a gigantic and messy gore wank.

    About as delightful as having a chunk of dry shit stuck to the hairs on the crack of your ass, this film is an inexorable 91-minute slog through…

  • A Dangerous Method

    A Dangerous Method

    ★★★★

    Michael Fassbender spanking Keira Knightley. Cronenberg knows what his fans want.