Favorite films

  • Annette
  • Rachel, Rachel
  • Crazy/Beautiful
  • Fruit of Paradise

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  • The Book of Stone

    ★★★½

  • Hair

    ★★★★½

  • The Scapular

    ★★★★

  • Even the Wind Is Afraid

    ★★★½

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  • Drifting Clouds

    Drifting Clouds

    ★★★★½

    Drifting Clouds feels like a very conscious return to form for Kaurismäki. After his goofy surprise international hit Leningrad Cowboys Go America and the more austere, heavy-hitting The Match Factory Girl, it seems like he didn't quite know which direction to head. But after a few fine but lesser films in the early 90s, he decided, like the characters in this film, that when all else fails, it's best to stick to what you're good at. So he went back…

  • The Man Without a Past

    The Man Without a Past

    ★★★★★

    With Kaurismäki it’s not so much rich vs. poor; it’s people who can exercise power over others vs. the utterly disenfranchised. It’s not the wealthy, per se, who are bad; it’s anybody whose position of authority and selfish interests allow them to callously destroy other people’s lives. The list of Kaurismaki’s four favorite scapegoats for all of society’s ills is as follows: 1) Banks, 2) Government Institutions, 3) Bosses, 4) Street Thugs. Sakari Kuosmanen (who I’ve only recently started to…

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  • Fruit of Paradise

    Fruit of Paradise

    ★★★★½

    This is great - an experimental feature like no one could or seems to want to make these days. The Lobster may have taken some inspiration from it, but it's a very different creature - far more narrative and symbolically dense than Fruit of Paradise. Chytilová's film takes just a few obvious symbols - an apple, a knife, a briefcase, a key, the color red, a forest, a resort/sanitorium representing the garden of eden, and playfully recombines them in a…

  • Pay It Forward

    Pay It Forward

    I knew I was saving my first half star rating for a very special movie.

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  • The Strange One

    The Strange One

    ★★★★½

    Playing out like an adaptation of the most sadistic play Tennessee Williams never wrote, THE STRANGE ONE is almost completely incoherent dramatically if you don't foreground the homosexual subtext. And, like most Williams adaptations, even when you decrypt most of the gay coding in the film, you still find some of the events that transpire a bit mystifying, like the depths of depravity are so unfathomable that you can't possibly comprehend what unwholesome passions lurk behind each character's actions. My…

  • The Executioner

    The Executioner

    ★★★★★

    Thousands of movies out there make it seem like killing a person is a pretty easy thing to do. Depending on the type of movie it is, there may or may not be a significant amount of time devoted to feelings of guilt after the fact, but the difficulty of actually pulling of the trigger is rarely explored. This movie is masterful on a number of levels, but Berlanga's greatest achievement here is using comedy to lull us into a…