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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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  • Hard to Be a God

    Hard to Be a God

    ★★★★

    One of the most atmospherically oppressive films I have ever seen. A sprawling trudge through scenes of sickening depravity that is as weirdly mesmerizing as it is disgusting. Perhaps the most remarkable achievement here is the cinematography; German's camera lingers so claustrophobically close to faces, surfaces, bodies all throughout that watching the film can be anxiety-inducing, and yet this is countered and complemented by a consciousness of space and an expansiveness to the sets of the film, such that the…

  • Burning

    Burning

    ★★★★★

    NZIFF 2018: Film #14

    However good you've heard this is, it's actually even better. Lee Chang-dong's second consecutive perfect film, and an absolute masterclass in subtle tension, with a supremely unsettling off-centre feel that permeates its second half and is never explicitly resolved. The film centres around the mysterious L'Avventura-esque disappearance of a central character, and while one particular explanation for what happened to this person is heavily hinted at, my interpretation was entirely different from those of the people…

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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.