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  • Joan of Arc

    Joan of Arc


    The Maid of Orléans gains the attention of a roomful of nobles, babbling and lounging around instead of fighting off the English, by informing them of her mission. They're nonplussed. She gains their immediate devotion in one brief gesture: pointing heavenward. The Méliès brand is generally limited to whimsy, fantastical sets and effects for their own sake, but here he's the medium for an older, greater tale, and that makes for some gloria in excelsis Deo. From the first shot…

  • August in the Water

    August in the Water


    I've typically indulged in kami no michi art, universal harmony and natural spontaneity by way of the animist's idolatry, through anime and manga's depictions of unadulterated wilderness occupied by mysterious spirits. Cityscapes from the tail end of the Japanese economic miracle, enhanced by synth grooves: this was not the expected backdrop. With the apparent loss of the traditional romanticist vision seems to come some perversion of the philosophy; union with sacred nature now has the addition of sci-fi-ified astrology, elemental…

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  • A Hidden Life

    A Hidden Life


    Humble men are accused of arrogance for causing a moment's self-reflection in the accuser. Someone with the gall to be uncompromising in the truth, without regard for the fashions of men, must be demeaned in order to ease the troubled thoughts of the rest of us liars. Of course, the true conceit is with those imposing their will (The film opens with scenes from The Triumph of the Will) on entire populations. References to the Antichrist are valid, whether literally…

  • Dawn of the Dead

    Dawn of the Dead


    Thanks to Romero's conception of post-apocalypse, millions have invested hours in strategizing against and mowing down waves of virtual zombie hordes. The complications, moral and technical, of battling other human beings are bypassed by having a limitless supply of brain-dead brain-eaters to keep players occupied. It's a horrifying yet instinctually attractive situation. There's an exciting childhood fantasy in building forts and fortifications, be it furniture or snow, to defend against the ever encroaching, never defeated enemy—and zombies happen to fit…