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Film

Review: Minari

Appropriately enough for a film set in the past and during a formative moment in life, Minari begins with a look in the rear-view mirror. The looker is David (Alan Kim), a seven-year-old boy enroute to a new life in 1980s Arkansas with parents Monica (Han Ye-ri) and Jacob (Steven Yeun), and sister Ann (Noel […]

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Film

Review: Cenote

A cenote is a sinkhole, but the term originates from Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, where the Maya would draw water from them. Water, and the spaces in which it’s found, are often linked to a civilisation’s rituals (the Maya also used the cenotes for ceremonies of sacrifice), and Oda Kaori’s documentary-sensorium immerses itself in the cenotes […]

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Film

Review: Saint Maud

One thing that’s worse than having a new Mica Levi score to put up with is the prospect of new work by one of their imitators. In the case of Rose Glass’s Saint Maud, Adam Janota Bzowski’s choral phrases battle against discordant strings and resounding, heavy honks, mirroring the way the film pulls in two […]

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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 […]

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Film

Review: The Woman Who Ran

I was flustered the first time I saw The Woman Who Ran, the newest film (but, given his prolificity, not for long) by Hong Sang-soo. I couldn’t get a full sense of the game the film plays, though I was pleased by the performances, an equable sound design, and its amiable mood. This last property […]

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Film

Review: Days

After being told that the film is “intentionally unsubtitled,” the first thing available to a viewer’s senses of Days is a sound, and at that a sound often heard in the work of Tsai Ming-liang: the patter of falling rain. But then a shot completes it: it’s of Kang (Lee Kang-sheng), sitting in his home, […]