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  • The Long Gray Line

    The Long Gray Line

    ★★★

    Too broad, especially at the beginning, but gets very strange and interesting when it becomes a multi-generational thing that, much like Fort Apache, mixes this message of heroism with questions of what, exactly, they are dying for.

  • Arrowsmith

    Arrowsmith

    ★★½

    There is something here in the scientifically minded doctor being pulled repeatedly from his wife⁠—not that he cares⁠—and dedicated more to "science" than humanity, but what we get instead feels like merely a film going through the motions, signifying everything but dramatizing and convincing us of nothing. ⁠

  • The Whole Town's Talking

    The Whole Town's Talking

    ★★★½

    Quite good, Capra-esque material (thanks to shared screenwriters). Edward G. Robinson is great here in the double role and perfectly cast to embody a figure who is a lawless gangster on one hand and beaten down by bureaucratic excess ("The McEntire account!"). These two things are not so far apart.

  • Flesh

    Flesh

    ★★★

    Fordian in the protagonist's tension between civilized and outlaw life, but rather unremarkable otherwise.

  • Greyhound

    Greyhound

    ★★½

    Quite poorly paced and structured, effectively being three episodes of naval battles with escalating intensity and nary an act break between them. Has some superfluous relationship flashback and religious stuff at the beginning to make us care, but I couldn't help but wondering what the point was. Some of the minutiae of seafaring⁠—the way information is passed along, the use of bearings for direction and sonar for detection, how they dodge a torpedo⁠—is kind of interesting, though.

  • The Seven Year Itch

    The Seven Year Itch

    ★★★

    Kind of insufferable at the beginning with the Voice of God narration and Tom Ewell unconvincingly uttering his every thought aloud for the audience's (supposed) benefit, and only mildly entertaining thereafter, The Seven Year Itch somehow manages to be passable. Billy Wilder hated this film and said that it is meaningless if Ewell remains chaste (he doesn't in the play), but it's in fact precisely this fact that redeems the film. Not for any moral reason, of course, but because…

  • Inception

    Inception

    ★★★½

    There is, admittedly, a lot not to like here. Many of the plot mechanizations make no sense (to name a few: why do they need a kick at every level to wake up instead of just the top level; if Cobb's limbo was 5 hour sedation = 50 years, isn't Robert under for shorter than that on the plane; how on earth can they synchronize the "kicks" when they have no idea how long it will take for the van…

  • Da 5 Bloods

    Da 5 Bloods

    ★★★★½

    Spike Lee's cinematic project, articulated in Do The Right Thing, is to create ample public spaces to showcase Black faces. That film is about whether there should be "brothers on the wall"; the history of Hollywood often forces us to ask why there aren't any on the wall upon which the image is projected.

    Da 5 Bloods may be the apex of this cinematic project. It tells a story of Black Americans who were, 50 years prior, forced to fight…

  • Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo

    Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo

    ★★★

    Flew off early in the haze of dawn
    In a metal dragon locked in time
    Skimming waves of an underground sea
    In some kind of a dream world fantasy

    Sun a hot circle on a canopy
    '25 a racing blot on a bright green sea
    Ahead the dim blur of an alien land
    Time to give ourselves to strange gods' hands

    Dark flak spiders bursting in the sky
    Reaching twisted claws on every side
    No place to run
    No place…

  • Sansho the Bailiff

    Sansho the Bailiff

    ★★★½

    Kenji Mizoguchi is one of my favorite directors, so I was naturally very excited to finally get around to a film that seems to be a consensus pick for his second best. There is indeed a lot to like: Mizoguchi's blocking, arrangement of space, and panning & tracking shots remain unparalleled. Still, I find this to be far less allegorically potent than Ugetsu, lacking the social commentary of Street of Shame, less compelling as a folktale than The Crucified Lovers, much…

  • The Weeping Meadow

    The Weeping Meadow

    ★★★★

    The common criticism of this film is that it's a retread, a sort of Greatest Hits film. That isn't untrue. We have the festive dance interrupted by the political right as in The Travelling Players; the immigrant framed on the right of the screen as he sits, facing the camera, just as Agamemnon was in the same film; the brothers' meeting across the neutral rift between them recalls the end of Suspended Step of the Stork; the tree with the…

  • Lola

    Lola

    ★★★½

    I love what Fassbinder does with lighting here, and The Blue Angel is one of my favorite films, but something about this doesn't quite work...

    One of the things that makes Fassbinder so good is his ability to make use of archetypes and deliver surprising and unexpected commentary on their conditions and the society that begets them (see: Martha, The Merchant of Four Seasons), and the narrative here is undoubtedly one of archetypes: We have the corrupt businessman, the straight-shooting…