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  • Hannah

    Hannah

    ★★★½

    Proof positive of Charlotte Rampling's ability to carry a movie on her performance alone. There's a plot here, but it's exceptionally elliptical—I had to follow up with some other reviews just to make sure that my Day Eleven fatigue had not left me completely insensate. Andrea Pallaoro's dialed-down drama is in the vein of 45 Years, patiently depicting the crushing loneliness of a woman who didn't know her husband as well as she thought she did. Unlike Hannah's Oscar-nominated counterpart,…

  • Vampire Clay

    Vampire Clay

    ★★★

    Goodness knows why I thought the title might be a metaphor. The very literal blood-slurping and bone-dissolving mound of clay at the center of this film is the brainchild of FX-makeup artist-turned-director Soichi Umezawa. His creation, borne of a cheated and frustrated artist, ultimately manifests in the form of Katare, a bald boylike figure who bears a refreshing lack of resemblance to a long-haired ghost. The real stroke of inspiration is to set the film at a podunk art school,…

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  • The Assignment

    The Assignment

    ★★★½

    I am captivated by the idea that, were this film made in 1978 (when the script was written, per Walter Hill), a pre-Alien Sigourney Weaver could well have become famous not as Ellen Ripley but as Frank Kitchen, a professional assassin who undergoes the titular involuntary sex change at the hands of a vengeful surgeon. Four decades later, Weaver instead kicks ass in the latter role, the imperious, institutionalized Dr. Rachel Kay, serenely recounting the tall tale that led her…

  • The Red Turtle

    The Red Turtle

    ★★★★½

    As with almost anything touched—however lightly—by Studio Ghibli, Michael Dudok de Wit's first feature film is a thing of wonder. If one prefers, it is a simple parable about life and the elements. However, it is also a daunting enigma, a mystery play concerning the spirit world that stands, unseen, beyond the veil of nature. The film can be divided into two parts: the first about a shipwrecked man's survival on a desert island, the second about an encounter that…