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  • Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese

    Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese

    ★★★★

    I loved this movie so much. In the concert footage, Dylan is a more vicious, more primitive singer than ever before: he's somehow turned himself into the uncouth and untutored garage band howler and Old Testament prophet at the same time: in his ghost-white painted clown's face, he does "A Hard Rain's a Gonna Fall" like a punk band from the suburbs of Cleveland, "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll" like he's delivering the closing soliloquy in the prosecution of…

  • The Last Black Man in San Francisco

    The Last Black Man in San Francisco

    ★★★★

    I veered back and forth while watching the movie. It has the luscious, poetic intensity -- wind-blown drapes, saturated colors, fish-eye lenses -- I often associate with amateurish artiness, and all the secondary characters are grotesque caricatures that I wasn't convinced the director was aware of. And yet the strangeness of it all -- who's ever seen a movie about a man obsessed with the architectural details of a home that doesn't belong to him? I liked the character of…

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  • Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives

    Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives

    ★★★★

    I just finished teaching a class on the contemporary international art cinema and I was struck how closely my students' ratings of the films that we watched tracked the movies' IMDb ratings. And I was struck how stridently -- perhaps unthinkingly -- my own tastes seemed to have veered in the opposite direction. For instance, my students' favorite film (and the most highly rated on IMDb (8.4) of those I included) was Asghar Farhadi's A SEPARATION; my students' least favorite…

  • I Accuse

    I Accuse

    ★★★★

    It's funny that so much of the dominant discourse about silent cinema these days is about "modernity" -- every new academic book about silent film recently feels obligated to link movies from the 1920s to the railroad, the telegraph, advertising, the consumer economy, etc. -- as if the use of the root "modern" will somehow legitimate the films for an audience that might not appreciate them if it thought of them as merely melodramatic entertainments. But my experience with silent…