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  • Black Narcissus

    Black Narcissus

    The insistence with which the film makes us inhabit its nuns’ coventional attitudes means that, once we see Ruth dressed up and wearing lipstick, it really is shocking, reminiscent of the moment in Vertigo when Scotty sees Judy become Madeleine. (Incidentally, both movies prominently feature missionary nuns, belltowers and falls from dizzying heights). But underneath the virtuosic cinematography etc. is a funny sort of understatement, the filmmakers holding back from going full racist: she's not in thick makeup and costume…

  • Throne of Blood

    Throne of Blood


    I've never seen anything like this, this blend of Noh theatre, ink painting, Shakespeare, the historical epic, the propaganda newsreel, and so much more besides. The outdoor sequences, so full of movement and frenzy, are almost outdone by the indoor ones, suffused with the gradated, receding light of silent cinema, with a claustrophobic minimalism and stillness reminiscent of Dreyer— but with a much more grotesque, expressionist, abstracted treatment of human faces and flaws.

    When Kurosawa deals with large-scale conflicts, often…

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