Favorite films

  • Love Streams
  • Breathless
  • Four Nights of a Dreamer
  • Bergman Island

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  • Hud

    ★★★

  • Primate

    ★★★½

  • The Crowd

    ★★★½

  • Bluebeard's Eighth Wife

    ★★★½

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  • In the City of Sylvia

    In the City of Sylvia

    ★★★★½

    In the City of Sylvia is a triptych. In the film's first third, we watch a man at a café patio as he stares at the women around him, occasionally sketching them, otherwise simply admiring their beauty from a distance. The camera flits around the patio, wondering what these brief glimpses might reveal, if anything, about the lives of these people, and cutting on occasion to reverse shots of the man as he asks himself the same thing. These shots…

  • The Wonders

    The Wonders

    ★★★★½

    So much about The Wonders absolutely enthralled me. On the one hand, I understand why it has been pegged by many as a simple coming-of-age story. Maria Alexandra Lungu, as a preteen who acts as the de facto second-in-command to her father's beekeeping business, is not only wise beyond her years; she expresses a range of emotions that few actors have managed to pack into a single performance. Her familial duty, aspirations for a life more cosmopolitan than her own,…

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  • Hud

    Hud

    ★★★

    Paul Newman and Brandon De Wilde both swing for the fences and turn in their share of stellar moments (particularly Newman in a virtually Shakespearean performance), but it is Melvyn Douglas and Patricia Neal who lend this film most of its dramatic heft and truly earn the Oscars they won. Their relatively understated, lived-in performances convey the seething disapproval of Hud's immorality that constitutes one of the film's primary themes, and even though Newman's explosive monologues are largely sights to…

  • Primate

    Primate

    ★★★½

    Frederick Wiseman and cinematographer William Brayne shoot in nearly as research-oriented a manner as the scientists they follow, desperately trying to capture as much as they can in real time as "nature" is taking its course, as the scientists might say. The film starts out as a glimpse of observational scientists who generally stay unobtrusive as they watch the apes live their lives (albeit in spartan, unwelcoming cages), but as the film progresses toward even more questionable moral territory, shots…

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  • The Shape of Water

    The Shape of Water

    After having seen only three of his films, I'm starting to think that Guillermo del Toro chooses to work in a "fairy tale" register because it means that he gets to be lazy with characterization and thematic development, chalking it up to the simplicity of the form. There is little other excuse that I can think of for why the villains in his films, perhaps true for The Shape of Water even more than for Pan's Labyrinth, seem to be…

  • Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

    Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

    ★★★★½

    Visually, Birdman is a beautiful film whose appearance as one unbroken take allows us to understand the complexity of life behind the Broadway stage and the fast-paced nature of the world of theatre. It is this world where we find Riggan Thomson, a washed-up actor who is about to star in a stage adaptation of What We Talk About When We Talk About Love that he both wrote and directed but who struggles with his own descent from fame. Despite…