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  • The Strange Love of Martha Ivers

    The Strange Love of Martha Ivers


    Martha Ivers is one of the most complex characters of the 1940s. She’s at once selfish, rationalizing, tender, and murderous, an alpha queen yearning for lost innocence while entrapped in a loveless marriage with a blackmailer. The role is squarely in Barbara Stanwyck’s wheelhouse, and she doesn't miss. Reviving the hard-boiled mannerisms of Phyllis Dietrichson, Stanwyck also gives us glimmers of a tormented inner life, prefiguring her turn as a conflicted lover in There’s Always Tomorrow.

    But I couldn’t wrap…

  • Red Sparrow

    Red Sparrow


    Red Sparrow starts off promisingly enough, with a fierce-looking JLaw flossing her talent for identifying human vulnerability while training at Charlotte Rampling's School for Gifted Honeypots. But the film unaccountably abandons her "Sparrow" skills once she takes the field. (Imagine following Gordon Liu through his 36 Chambers training only to have him pull out a Glock to mow down baddies.) It devolves into an extended "Previously on The Americans" clip, in which several would-be meticulously planned and executed target-running operations…

  • Autumn Sonata

    Autumn Sonata


    Having transcendent actors in your movie can be both a blessing and a curse. Who else but Liv Ullmann can convey resentment, self-pity and admiration all in one (minute-long) side-eye at her mom at the piano? But the bounty of talent in Autumn Sonata proves to be a crutch for Ingmar Bergman, who leans hard into performance, perhaps to distract from the thinness of this scenario. And so poor Ullmann, who fully inhabited the dutiful, timid Eva early on, is…

  • Floating Clouds

    Floating Clouds


    Don't ever find someone who looks at you the way Hideko Takamine looked at Masayuki Mori.