Daniel Kieckhefer
Daniel Kieckhefer

Daniel Kieckhefer

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  • Stalker

    Stalker

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    The big question mark in Stalker is its cryptic ending, where the Stalker's daughter Monkey pushes three glasses across a table telekinetically, dropping one to the floor. Until this point the film has been a strange fantasy, full of philosophical asides but never quite confusing the viewer. The ending, however, is a direct challenge. How does it fit into the movie?

    The answer is simple, but it depends on perceiving and accepting a fact which the movie appears to deny:…

  • Vertigo

    Vertigo

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    At the height of his career, Alfred Hitchcock made a film that to this day few people have ever seen. It flopped at the box office and was shelved for decades. The plot was strange - after a boy's father dies in a terrible accident, he starts following his mother obsessively. She returns his love, but he clings too hard, and she abandons him. Time passes, and he keeps looking for his mother in other women. One day he finds…

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  • Ornamental Hairpin

    Ornamental Hairpin

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    The last two minutes of Ornamental Hairpin are wordless, yet the ending bursts with specificity. Everything in the movie builds up to this final statement, but it's invisible if you watch casually or ignore the movie's historical context. And there's good reason for this subtlety, considering the aggressive war Japan was waging in 1941.

    It would be easy to assume that Ornamental Hairpin was a distraction from the stress of war. Set in a mountain spa with hot springs and…

  • Enemy

    Enemy

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    It's widely understood by now that Jake Gyllenhaal's two characters in Enemy, Adam and Anthony, are two sides of the same man. Plenty of reviewers have carefully threaded the movie's enigmas together to reach this conclusion. They are surely right... but this doesn't go far enough. An interpretation shouldn't be satisfied with making sense of the plot; it should also try to identify a movie's purpose. (Mulholland Drive is similar to Enemy this way - most people have figured out…

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  • The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

    The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

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    Perceptive viewers sometimes notice that Alan is missing from the asylum in the framing story at the end of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, and from this fact it's a short leap to conclude that Francis may have killed his best friend out of jealousy. This would account for Francis' placement in a madhouse, and likewise for Jane's as well - or is the young woman on the throne a surrogate for the real Jane?

    But this is only a…

  • Alphaville

    Alphaville

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    During his final interview with Alpha 60, Lemmy Caution poses a riddle to the computer:

    Something which never changes, day or night
    The past represents its future
    It advances in a straight line
    Yet it ends by coming full circle.

    What is there in these four lines that would destroy a supercomputer powerful enough to govern a galaxy? Most critics brush this question aside, choosing to worry instead about Alphaville's genre classification or its superficial style. But the movie is…