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  • A Man There Was

    A Man There Was

    Film #3 of Film School Drop Outs 2018

    A kind of morality tale about the discovery of community, centred around one man, Terje Vigen. But A Man There Was is also a love-letter to the sea, and to the idea of a pacifist Sweden (made during WWI, when Sweden retained a policy of neutrality). Sjöström stars as the titular Terje, a sailor who feels more at home at sea than on land, until his wife has a child and he’s…

  • The Ghost of Kasane

    The Ghost of Kasane

    Both of the Nakagawa films I’ve seen (this and Ghost of Hanging in Utsunomiya) feel at times like sequels to films I haven’t seen. What I mean is that the characters have realistic, contradictory impulses and the films care more about the drama that results from these actions than setting up this conflict. In the opening scene of Kasane, there is clearly an existing relationship between the blind Soetsu and the samurai Shinzaemon, but by withholding that information from the…

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  • The Big Parade

    The Big Parade

    Film #2 of Film School Drop Outs 2018

    A war epic or a melodrama? The Big Parade is a bit (or a lot) of both, and it doesn’t seem concerned with separating the two. The Great War amplifies small-scale love and friendship, and that romance underscores the violence of war. I’m drawn to the film because of this ambivalence, because of its internal contradictions: it celebrates army camaraderie, yet it criticizes the sexism and indoctrination of the American military; it…

  • The Birds

    The Birds

    ★★★★

    The Birds: Hitchcock’s film version of the gothic romance, where female hysteria is realized by nature and the shadowy moors of England are replaced with a bright bay of California. The suspense is there, and the performances and direction are all high-grade Hitchcock, but it drags at parts and really, Hitch probably isn’t the best guy to talk about the institutional oppression of women.

    It is a fantastic film: from the brief wolf-whistle at the very start of the film…