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  • The Birth of a Nation

    The Birth of a Nation

    ★★★★★

    [93]

    A fascinating film to me for several reasons, the biggest of which might be its demonstration of cinema as a cantilever of force on a national stage as well as its ability to not only maintain relevance, but actually garner more traction over a century after its release. Granted, that traction is not of amicable nature—it is an ugly, reprehensible agency, but an agency nonetheless, and to ignore its influence on not just cinema but the United States of…

  • The River

    The River

    ★★★★★

    [91]

    After being highly receptive of every Tsai film I’ve seen thus far, I figured it was about time I tried to dive more in-depth about the essence of his very style, and why I find his particular brand of stoicism fundamentally more alluring and captivating than many others’. THE RIVER completely knocked my socks off, and not only does it contain some of the most painfully lingering sequences in Tsai’s canon (and I say that as a good thing),…

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  • Grass

    Grass

    ★★★½

    [69]

    Begins with two sly feints from Hong: He shows the woman on her laptop and the first arguing couple in completely segregated shots, cutting directly between the two, the young lady narrating in her own head as she types, giving the impression that the couple may well be a fictional psychodrama of whatever she’s writing. That theory is squashes when Hong suddenly pans out to show them all in the same shot, revealing their cohabitation of the café, as…

  • The Day He Arrives

    The Day He Arrives

    ★★★★

    [72]

    The conceit smacked me somewhere around the 60% mark in a delayed, still unsure, and never confirmed kind of way that only Hong could achieve. Is this a single day replayed three times with minor variations and their small, consequential paths, or is it three separate days meant specifically to expose the repetition of day-to-day existence, highlighting that life is indeed nothing more than the same template played out with only minor variations and their small, consequential paths. (In…

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  • Roma

    Roma

    ★★½

    [47]

    Not even feeding into my most deep-seated contrarian instincts when I rhetorically ask, “what do people see in this?” Perhaps I know too much about Cuarón and his obsession with ostentatious construction to notbe annoyed by the cannonade of slowly oscillating—and purely nugatory—long takes (seriously, over half the movie is filmed like the final scene of THE CONVERSATION, but at least there it served a metaphorical purpose); while others have cited “immersion” and “engrossment,” I find this hey-look-at-me! formalism…

  • mother!

    mother!

    ★★★★½

    [84]

    Second viewing, no score change. This is the final post and then I’m done babbling about this movie (for a while, anyway).

    [Heavy spoilers ahead.]

    Second look confirmed that MOTHER! was every bit as good as my initial reaction signified, and it will surely wind up at the top of my “best of 2017” films. Saw it with my wife, who sometimes likes “different” stuff and as the movie ended, she turned to me and said, ”that might be…