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  • The Ghost Ship

    The Ghost Ship

    ★★★★

    The second of Val Lewton's RKO films I've watched, and apparently the one that departs most explicitly from horror as a genre. Russell Wade stars as an impressionable young man, on board his first ship as an officer, who falls briefly under the sway of his seemingly level-headed captain. Their relationship would be unmistakably homoerotic even without the word "seaman" being thrown around so liberally, especially in Wade's admission that he doesn't "know any girls," and an off-hand comment that…

  • Nomadland

    Nomadland

    ★★★

    Some lovely moments, especially in its opening act, when McDormand serves more as a witness to the oral tradition of a host of storytellers. Those opening passages contain the film's thorniest material, whether in the depiction of the harsh conditions facing the transient people at its centre, or the suggestion that Frances McDormand's Fern may be approaching her lifestyle with a heavy measure of naivete. That complexity is largely stripped away as Nomadland progresses, with the real-life nomads largely fading…

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  • Before Sunset

    Before Sunset

    ★★★★

    The only sequel I've ever seen that not only betters the original, but also makes the original better in retrospect. Linklater brings his usual excellent sense of time and place to Before Sunset, and the second encounter between Celine and Jesse is even more poignant than the first.

    Hawke is just as excellent here as he is in the first: he's fantastic with the dialogue, but my favourite moment of his performance is on the boat, with Hawke watching Delpy…

  • The Nightingale

    The Nightingale

    ★★★★

    Jennifer Kent's follow-up to The Babadook also centres on a traumatised woman. Where that film confined itself largely to the domestic space, however, The Nightingale uses the landscape of 19th-century Australia as the canvas for a kind of revisionist western. Revisionist westerns are more common in the 21st century than the classical form, of course, but The Nightingale is powered by a distinctly feminine fury. Kent's choice to shoot in the 1.33:1 aspect ratio deprives viewers of the panoramic vistas…