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  • Still Life

    Still Life

    ★★★★½

    The newsworthy construction of the Three Gorges Dam in 2005 - 2006 understandably drew director Jia Zhangke’s attention — a filmmaker with a keen interest in the lived effects of social and political change (as well as a keen eye for scenery and landscape), Jia was not likely to miss an opportunity to document the Chinese government’s attempt to change the face of the Yangtze River. Still Life is thus as much a carefully pieced-together documentary about a large-scale construction…

  • Platform

    Platform

    ★★★★

    Written for an in-class essay assignment:
    ---
    An aspect of Jia Zhangke’s work not often remarked upon is the almost off-handed way he treats sexual relationships between characters. In Platform, the larger narrative of which is about the progression of the People’s Republic of China into modernity, there are nested within the film’s narrative structure many brilliant, though rather pessimistic observations about sexual relationships. Two of the depictions especially stand out: the fraught, decades-long courtship between Minliang (Wang Hongwei) and…

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  • The Day After

    The Day After

    ★★★★½

    For the past two years I've been finding it strange that Hong has gone from an auteurist curiosity to a full-fledged arthouse celebrity. Of course, he's been in the news, his films have opened up a bit... But to me, he's still a guy with really quite challenging and uncompromising notions about filmmaking as art, who is always dreaming up ways to sabotage established practices.

    But I think to myself some more, and maybe it's not so strange that he's…

  • Mad Max: Fury Road

    Mad Max: Fury Road

    ★★★★½

    82.

    I don't believe in action for action's sake--that capturing movement is somehow an ontological virtue regardless of context, that it's a cinematic effect somehow worth more than other effects. But I loved this film which never stops moving and which never fails to direct the camera to a movement. A few notes:

    1). I don't know if spatial coherence is really George Miller's jam. There are stunning compositions, of course, where a plan is laid out for where each…