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  • Three Resurrected Drunkards

    Three Resurrected Drunkards

    ★★★½

    "It'd be nice if a couple bodies fell from the sky."

    Perhaps the most overtly absurdist of the Oshima films I've viewed so far, Three Resurrected Drunkards sets the stage for an unpredictable comedy from its opening sequence. This sequence on the beach, which is later repeated throughout the film, includes ironically-upbeat music and the bizarre hand-in-the-sand visual gag.

    From these opening shots, I felt invited into a different mode of satire than previous encounters with the director's work. Many…

  • The Plough and the Stars

    The Plough and the Stars

    ★★★½

    Far from the best work of Stanwyck or Ford – yet clearly underrated – The Plough and the Stars illustrates many qualities that make each of these artists’ films so complex. On the surface, this is a familiar (and sexist) tale about an ungrateful woman weeping at home, waiting for her noble husband to return from war, and eventually learning the value of sacrificing her lover for her country.

    But this film – like many films by Ford or Stanwyck…

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  • Early Summer

    Early Summer

    ★★★★★

    Few (read: no) filmmakers have ever matched Yasujiro Ozu's ability to portray the multiple stages of familial struggles, and Early Summer is one of the most successful explorations of what it means to relate to family members across generational lines.

    Tokyo Twilight is the most immediate entry in his filmography for me today, because its probing of the difficult balance of 20-something life with familial expectations is unparalleled. Now that I'm a dad to a little boy, the male childhood…

  • Quintet

    Quintet

    ★★★★½

    "Has it occurred to you that what you are doing is disruptive? You will never understand the scheme until you're part of the scheme."

    From its opening shot, hypnotically and slowly tracking across a desolate landscape of snow, Quintet commits to its much-maligned style.

    As our culture becomes more eager to speak about movies as "so bad they're good," ambitious films like Quintet are lost in the shuffle. Those who do take the time to watch this universally panned film…