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  • Asako I & II

    Asako I & II

    Less Rohmer or Rivette, more Chabrol if he made commercial romantic melodramas instead of Hitchcock riffs. Anyway, all three comparisons are probably reductive of Hamaguchi's specific aesthetic. But I really like how he plays with expected beats in unexpected ways, which is something I always associate with Chabrol.

    The rewatch really clarified how precise his storytelling is—knowing what's coming, it's much easier to see how every scene has a very clear purpose in terms of building toward Asako's climactic decision.…

  • Man's Favorite Sport?

    Man's Favorite Sport?

    Seeing this after rewatching both Bringing Up Baby and Some Like It Hot clarified why Hawks' brand of madcap, irrevent comedy works for me whereas Wilder's (in the case of that film, anyway) doesn't. As with Bringing Up Baby, the humor in Man's Favorite Sport comes not just from the series of comic incidents but from the hapless protagonists' attempt to maintain sanity and dignity throughout each increasingly absurd ordeal. More than almost any other director, Hawks gives us a…

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  • Black Panther

    Black Panther

    I think it would be interesting to write a longer essay on the way the black radical is almost always positioned in mainstream Hollywood films as the villain (or, at most, the foil to the protagonist) whose outrage we are made to understand and empathize with but who we are ultimately able to disavow because of the existence of a hero who mitigates that rage in an attempt to affect change through existing systems and institutions. You see it in…

  • La La Land

    La La Land

    ½

    There's a moment early on this film that nicely summarizes Damien Chazelle's approach to music and art: Ryan Gosling, sitting at his piano, puts on a jazz record, which begins with a complicated piano riff. He stops the record, plays the riff on his piano exactly as heard on the record, messes up, then spins back the record, replays the opening, and mimics it again. It's the same methodology behind the "Play one wrong note and you DIE" premise of…