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  • Violent

    Violent

    ★★★★★

    Zen and the Art of Nordic Depression? This Linklater-meets-Malick-in-Norway piece intrigues immensely, and increasingly as it dreamscapes through five pieces over a fateful summer around Bergen.

    It's playing by its own rules, and they are as formidable as the soundtrack is. An apocalyptic existentialism in voiceover comforts and haunts and guides, working its magick, placing the audience somehow in a buddhist practice state.

    This would be impressive on its own, but its able to happen while furniture, dinnerware, even houses…

  • The Atomic Cafe

    The Atomic Cafe

    ★★★★

    Didn't expect this to be that good. but It has the same smart reliance on powerful original footage as the Autobiography of Nicholas Ceausescu film, except of course this time the propaganda and atrocities are by the United States.
    How strange the 1950s look! And this is from period footage, interviews, news reporting at the time. So fearful and full of warnings.

  • Swing Kids

    Swing Kids

    ★★★★★

    Yes, it’s the tap-dancing musical treatise on revisionist history and ideological conflicts of 20th century totalitarian states you always needed.

    But it’s also well, . . .amazing film making.

    More film(ish) techniques and lenses than an Oliver Stone flop sweat, more tonal rug-pulls than a carnival fun house, more slick post modern film homage than Woody Allen’s whole catalogue.
    And yes I believe more uses of dance than White Knights, Grease, and Footloose combined.

    It’s got perfect revisionist history bookends,…

  • The American Friend

    The American Friend

    ★★★★★

    Can't. Stop. Watching. This. Again.

    The Highsmith story throws it right into Hitchcockian cat-and-mouse games. Think trains, hitmen, innocent protagonist, super-plots. But Wenders does it with an Antonioni object-obsessed view, his super saturated landscapes always popping with colorful Things, many of them zoomed on to recalibrate our eyes at just the right time.
    Gold leaf carried by doomed breath to a fateful phone call. A kinder-watched kinetoscope full of acrobatics. A framer's eyepiece for focusing and detecting details.

    Wim Wenders…

  • Late Night

    Late Night

    Not really a film, more like a forced binge of 4-5 episodes of a streaming tv series you can't quite remember the generic name of, and you never finished watching the first season. But hey, Amazon's certainly got the money so why wouldn't they put it out there anyway?

  • The Young Karl Marx

    The Young Karl Marx

    ★★

    Takes the biopic template for a walk across the tracks, and through the picket line, commits to natural lighting and dialogue in three languages (bravo!). Does the 19th century factory floors, slum dwellings, pubs, streets and meeting rooms pretty good, and even opens with a nice nod to Varda's The Gleaners and I.
    It seems intended to be ready for the classroom, and I hope it makes it there pronto.

    Bonus points for casting Phantom Thread's Vicky Krieps, Germany's acting super power Hans Uwe-Bauer, and all the period perfect facial hair.

  • Hardcore Norfolk - A Story of RnR Survival

    Hardcore Norfolk - A Story of RnR Survival

    ★★★

    Out of all the locally produced rock/punk/alt docs I've seen, this one is the most encyclopedic on itself. Covering exhaustively (with interviews!) from the pre-Gary 'US' Bond scene in the 1950s in to the 21st century. Worth revisiting again and again for the provincial details.

  • The Heart of the World

    The Heart of the World

    ★★★★★

    I could watch this every day during breakfast, and it would start my day off on a good spin every time. My First Guy Maddin.

  • Journey to Freedom

    Journey to Freedom

    ½

    This is NOT the film you needed to understand the Bulgarian experience in America. It's a stunningly relentless exercise in three person scenes in front of two walls, each actor landing wider and wider of the mark of actually speaking like a Bulgarian.

    Cut when needed to 1950s stock footage of the streets of various cities in Europe.

    And then Tor Johnson arrives. He's angry, 'natch.

    Bonus feature: inexplicable Most Glorious Narrator of the Party throwing verbal shade on the protagonist's actions, though no one seems to hear him.

  • Street of Shame

    Street of Shame

    ★★

    My first Mizoguchi! . . . and I'm a little bit underwhelmed. The story and performances are topnotch, it seems a very informed x-ray on the oppression of prostitutes, and well, women in general in 50s Japan. Probably would make a great stage play. But except for two haunting exterior shots of some of our heroines literally dwindling in size as their characters are emotionally crushed, and yes, the devastating last shot of the film, the camera seems under-used for this.

    But I'll definitely be checking out more of Mizoguchi's films.

  • The Feeling of Being Watched

    The Feeling of Being Watched

    ★★★½

    Somewhere between Foucault’s power/knowledge theories and Jules Feiffer’s dark nihilistic humor is apparently Bridgeview, Illinois.
    Assia Boundaoui takes us through what might be called the stages of surveillance: dismissal, forgetfulness, paranoia, communication, confirmation, engagement, self actualization.

    It's Snyder's Watchmen without the goofy costumes or any of the faux-historical backstories. Just the banal, insidious encroachment of oppression by forces too insecure to even show themselves anymore.

  • A Visit from the Incubus

    A Visit from the Incubus

    ★★★½

    What a find! A new aesthetic powerhouse taking on the western/music hall genre from the set design down to a fine-tuned twist on delivery of dialogue. Begs to be rewatched immediately. This short alone challenges the Coens recent Buster Scruggs, with probably 1/100th of the budget.