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Film Friday Essay

The Act of Cinematic Witness: On “Dear Comrades!” and “Quo Vadis, Aida?”

Acts of cinematic witness come close to the limits of what a film can, in all good conscience, show. After Claude Lanzmann’s Shoah, a film that, as Gilberto Perez puts it, ‘bears witness visually to the act of bearing witness verbally,’ * the terms of dramatising or representing atrocities in film changed. No repeats of […]

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Film

Review: Mayor

“I literally can’t deal with this shit,” the mayor says, as untreated sewage seeps into the valley. It’s a cute line. It’s almost as knowing as the interaction between sentence and edit earlier in that sequence, when he complains over the phone that he “can’t put out fires every day”—cut to: a small dumpster fire. […]

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Television

Review: Pretend It’s a City

In the plentiful footage showing Fran Lebowitz trudge along the pavements of New York City, she never seems more than a moment away from rolling her eyes at something—oftener still at someone—in her immediate vicinity. And that sets the tone for Pretend It’s a City, Scorsese’s follow-up to Public Speaking. Cultural figures make a skill […]

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Literary Matters

2020 Readings

(R) = reread, * = favourite. Molly Haskell: From Reverence to Rape: The Treatment of Women in the Movies. * Larissa MacFarquhar: Strangers Drowning: Voyages to the Brink of Moral Extremity. Laura Scott: So Many Rooms. Ocean Vuong: Night Sky with Exit Wounds. (R) V.F. Perkins: Film as Film: Understanding and Judging Movies. Robert Crawford: […]

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Film

2020 Favourites

Features: Dick Johnson is Dead (Kirsten Johnson) Bird Island (Maya Cosa and Sérgio da Costa) The Woman Who Ran (Hong Sang-soo) Vitalina Varela (Pedro Costa) Time (Garrett Bradley) To the Ends of the Earth (Kiyoshi Kurosawa) The Portuguese Woman (Rita Azevedo Gomes) End of the Century (Lucio Castro) Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Céline […]