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  • Man of Aran

    Man of Aran

    ★★★

    Man of Aran asks how many lives you would put at risk for a good movie.

    Robert Flaherty’s answer is “at least five.” Already renowned as filmmaking pioneer and controversial for his tricky relationship with the truth, even by the flexible standards of the docudrama, Flaherty spent two years on the Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland capturing the hardships of life near the unforgiving sea. As per usual, he follows a native family consisting of a father,…

  • For Sama

    For Sama

    ★★★★★

    The immediacy of the digital age is bearing full fruit as footage from the most horrific areas of conflict arrives, much of it by the people on the inside of the conflict itself (see also this year's: Midnight Traveler). Viet Nam brought a conflict on the other side of the world into our living rooms and it (eventually) brought about the end of that conflict. We carried the siege of Aleppo around in our pockets and it did... not enough,…

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  • 1917

    1917

    ★★

    The unbroken shots in Children of Men created a deliberate cinematic effect, framing our attention and paying mind to pace, using the technique to add a unique element of choreography that complimented the goals of the story. Birdman created an atmosphere of time slipping away as doubt and self-destruction threaten to destroy a play as we hurtle toward its opening. In 1917 Sam Mendes has simply found a more difficult way to achieve something conventional. It's a cinematic lipogram.

    There…

  • The Shining

    The Shining

    ★★★★

    A movie that continues to fascinate me, even though I can't shake my impression that its unbelievable accomplishments in psychological horror are undercut in part with a desire to invite in genre signposts (yes, this cut had the spooky skeletons). Kubrick was not unconcerned with box office - it was one of the things that fascinated him about Spielberg who would turn a domestic horror movie into a blockbuster two years later. While I think Kubrick recognized the rich cinematic…