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  • Lady Bird

  • Vertigo

  • An Elephant Sitting Still

  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

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  • Lady Bird

    Lady Bird

    Nick Pinkerton

    Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird begins with an abrupt act of violence that is both uncharacteristic of the film to come and illustrative of its method. Self-nicknamed teenager ‘Lady Bird’ (Saoirse Ronan) and her mother Marion (Laurie Metcalf) are returning to their home in Sacramento from a visit to a state university. Teary-eyed on finishing an audiobook detailing a very different California pilgrimage, John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, they appear an image of perfect emotional synchronicity, but this…

  • Vertigo

    Vertigo

    Penelope Houston

    Vertigo (Paramount) finds Hitchcock toying weightily with a thriller by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac, authors of Les Diaboliques. As with their earlier novel, the mystery is a question not of who done it but of whether it was really done at all – in this case, how can a girl who has fallen spectacularly to her death from a church tower reappear a few months later in the streets of San Francisco, and is she in fact…

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  • An Elephant Sitting Still

    An Elephant Sitting Still

    Tony Rayns

    Hu Bo’s introspective, moving panorama of hopeless lives in a decrepit town in north-east China has become a landmark in modern Chinese cinema since its writer-director-editor took his own life in October 2017. As I noted in a brief S&S festival report last spring, An Elephant Sitting Still (Daxiang Xi Di Er Zuo) is not unique in exploring varieties of despair in modern China, but it brings a new emotional acuity and psychological insight to the issues. Its…

  • Burning

    Burning

    Tony Rayns

    Constructive ambiguity is the watchword for Lee Changdong’s fine new film, his first since Poetry (2010). It’s notionally based on Murakami Haruki’s story Barn Burning (first published in English in the New Yorker, then collected in a better translation in The Elephant Vanishes, 1993), but Lee and co-writer Oh Jungmi have done much more than transpose the setting from Japan to Korea. They’ve turned the story’s first-person narrator into a very un-Murakami-like protagonist: a young man from a…