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Film Friday Essay

On “Uncut Gems.”

That Uncut Gems is first-person, present-tense, active-voice cinema shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who’s seen Heaven Knows What or Good Time, the Safdie brothers’ last two films: but what should be surprising, or at least is to me, is the plantiveness of their newest. It’s most obviously detectable in the score, by Daniel Lopatin, […]

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Film

Is the Man Who is Tall Happy?

There’s an honest pleasure at work in Michel Gondry’s diverting animated documentary, the subject of which is a series of conversations with the linguist, political activist, and philosopher Noam Chomsky. Gondry’s doodles and figures are representations, or visualisations, of Chomsky’s ideas: occasionally the director gets in something of a muddle, but he’s unfailingly self-deprecating, and […]

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Film Friday Essay

Why not continue?: On the many stories of “Syndromes and a Century.”

The cinema of Apichatpong Weerasethakul is one of stories growing out from and intruding upon other stories. In his debut, Mysterious Object at Noon, the director combines fiction and documentary to indulge in a Surrealist exercise, an exquisite corpse game, in which one story is appended to the end of another without attention being paid […]

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Film

Streaming Recommendations: January 2020

MUBI: —Leviathan: I remember being cratered by Andrey Zvyagintsev’s film, its helpless and hopeless story of a family displaced and destroyed by a confluence of church and state corruption. The director’s self-seriousness serves the material (and its attendant Book of Job underscoring) better than it does his subsequent Loveless. —Vertigo: Hitchcock’s essential document about the […]

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Film

Little Women

Greta Gerwig’s adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s novel is, among many things, a superb act of criticism. Where the novel itself and its previous adaptations (cinematic, televisual) begin with Meet Me In St. Louis-style familial contentment, with ironies and arguments to be contended with along the way, eventually succumb to life’s dissolutions and separations until […]

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Film

Jojo Rabbit

A movie which labels itself an ‘anti-hate satire’ is already not starting on the best of terms—but there was no way of knowing the depths of awfulness it would plumb. Taika Waititi’s mirthless and mawkish sixth film tries to tell the story of ten-year-old Johannes Betzler (Roman Griffin Davies), a fanatical Hiter youth initiate, nicknamed […]

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Film Friday Essay

On Elaine May’s “Mikey and Nicky.”

The film begins with Nicky (John Cassavetes) in a hotel room, panicking. The room is airless, he’s sweating through his white shirt and he looks like he’s thrown-up half his stomach lining. He calls for his pal Mikey (Peter Falk) to help him out. The pair work for the mob, but Nicky has stolen from […]