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  • Balnearios

    Balnearios

    Mariano Llinas' sensibility finally clicked with me when I watched this, his first feature but the last of his I watched. This anticipates EXTRAORDINARY STORIES and LA FLOR in its complicated, multipart structure (complete with sub-chapters); playful approach to storytelling (which renders almost everything mythical); and dizzying combination of voiceover narration and heady montage. Llinas' cinema is extremely literary: the eloquent narration describes so many events that we never actually see, meaning a good deal of the film takes place…

  • Coup de Torchon

    Coup de Torchon

    Bertrand Tavernier's adaptation of Jim Thompson's Pop. 1280 shifts the action to French West Africa in the 1930s so that the ugliness of colonialism heightens the hideous behavior on display. The narrative concerns one man's descent into madness, and Tavernier creates an unstable atmosphere from the get-go, often shooting hand-held to suggest a lack of authorial control. As a result, Tavernier can present the basest actions (murder, incest, blackmail) with a veneer of innocence—the film isn't condoning these things, of…

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  • Poetry

    Poetry

    ★★★★★

    Lately I've been outlining my first novel, so I've been especially cognizant of how the films I've watched organize and deepen their narratives. Of course, constructing stories in cinema is very different than constructing stories in literature, but given how many films I've seen, it's probably inevitable that I'll be inspired by both media. And given how many novels I've read, it's probably inevitable that I feel a certain affinity for movies in a novelistic register—films with fanciful digressions, a…

  • Femme Fatale

    Femme Fatale

    Watching this again, I was struck by how Ryuichi Sakamoto's score impacts the film's tone. The music is delicate, playful, and often calming; it encourages the spectator to reflect on how De Palma is making art. Form is everything in this movie and content all but arbitrary, as De Palma catalogues all the fun things one is able to do as a director (split-screens, tracking shots, extreme high and low angles, split diopter effects, et cetera). In the spirit of…