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  • Seven Days to Noon

    Seven Days to Noon

    ★★★½

    Set on location in post-War England (the film’s Thank You credits include “The Citizens of London”), the Boulting brothers’ Oscar-winning (for Best Story) mystery-thriller moves swiftly from the local issue of a missing person on Monday, to a citywide manhunt on Sunday, as Scotland Yard chases down a disgruntled atomic weapons researcher responsible for a credible nuclear threat. With a tone that recalls Fritz Lang’s M and tension akin to Hitchcock’s clock-ticking Sabotage, the Boultings take us through the city’s sewers and the London Zoo (with brief cameos from elephants and a small bear) for a nail-biting progression from low-grade concern to chest-gripping terror.

  • The Ear

    The Ear

    ★★★★½

    A boldfaced, haunting satire in the vein of Juraj Herz’s wicked, legendary The Cremator (Spalovač mrtvol, 1969), Karel Kachyna’s Czech New Wave classic is as arresting as early Cassavetes and as paranoid as The Conversation, which came four years later. Like Taylor and Burton’s Martha and George in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Anna (Bohdalová) and Ludvik (Brzobohatý) spend most of the film in a brutal verbal and physical altercation, spurred by their imbibements at a political dinner and the…

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  • Queen of Diamonds

    Queen of Diamonds

    ★★★★

    Shot on location in the desolate daytime desertscape of Las Vegas, Nevada, Menkes’ third feature-length film, which premiered in competition at the 1991 Sundance Film Festival, is a subversive rumination on isolation and despair. Following the titular “queen,” a casino blackjack dealer played by Nina’s long-time collaborator and sister Tinka, the work unfolds in a Jeanne Dielman-esque patience. “The female protagonist is both deeply estranged and psychically powerful,” says Menkes of her film. “Her loner position is the backside of centuries of Western Heroes: she stands in the center as a watcher and victim of a system which is starting to crack.”

  • The Gold Diggers

    The Gold Diggers

    ★★★★★

    Drawing from the same well of avant-garde anti-structure as enfant terrible Jean-Luc Godard and playwright Bertolt Brecht, Sally Potter’s whip-smart THE GOLD DIGGERS is positively pregnant with cultural and political signifiers that combine to form a singular work in the feminist countercinema space. Employing an all-female crew to shoot, compose, and design this proto-Lynchian world of romantic surrealism, the British filmmaker establishes herself as a trailblazer in this “search for the secret of [her] own transformation.” Babette Mangolte’s career-best cinematography elucidates a visual and thematic sendup of silent comedies, Depression-era musicals, and European arthouse cinema in an elegant, non-narrative ode to--and critique of--traditional Hollywood moviemaking.