Favorite films

  • Morocco
  • Rio Bravo

Recent activity

All
  • Utopia

  • M/Other

  • Devil in a Blue Dress

  • Safe

Recent reviews

More
  • Utopia

    Utopia

    This three-hour drama by West German director Sohrab Shahid Saless combines a cinema-verite naturalism of character and dialogue with stylized, minimalist visual rhythms and line delivery. Strangely, the juxtaposition clicks: The concrete behavior keeps the film from floating off into metaphysical realms, and the abstraction of style gives the story an odd sense of universality without straining the demands of realism. The title is decidedly ironic: A brutal pimp (Manfred Zapatka) collects five whores and opens a brothel, which he…

  • M/Other

    M/Other

    M/Other. Still amazed me on second viewing. It’s visually exciting, with a telephoto visual scheme and angled long-shot interiors; also highly intelligent, with careful organization of material that builds the theme without bringing it to the surface. With the possible exception of the climactic scene, the improv is well-governed and concise: Makiko Watenabe in particular is a really smart, good performer. I’d forgotten the film’s small, disruptive visual elements, which work together with the music and gain force as the…

Popular reviews

More
  • Safe

    Safe

    Safe. Really remarkable, with a big middle ground between the real and the symbolic, so that the disease that overtakes the heroine, and that is still worsening at film's end, seems as much a metaphor for the precarity of all life as it does a sign of environmental crisis. The distinctive, Kubrick-like detachment of the long-shot-based mise-en-scène is emotionally expressive here in a way that's outside of Kubrick's wheelhouse, and is allied with the performances, especially Moore's, which push us…

  • Devil in a Blue Dress

    Devil in a Blue Dress

    Devil in a Blue Dress. I was slow to figure how much I liked the film, but I liked it a lot, even more than in 1995. It had a Hollywoodish vibe, with real locations made to look like sets (Tak Fujiwara’s cinematography was colorful, a bit artificial, impressive); and the story ran along the tracks laid down for the detective genre. The first thing I noticed is that the film lacks bravado: the hero and others are generally on…