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  • Unknown Pleasures

    Unknown Pleasures

    ★★★

    Unfortunately quite a disappointment for me. Jia Zhangke is easily one of my favorite directors and many elements of this film are ones that I recognize and adore from his other work. Only this time they seem to lack both purpose and momentum. Unknown Pleasures represents a milestone in China's contemporary history, a mighty civilization on the verge of preeminence on our increasingly globalized Earth. The triumphs of the PRC, the nation, are never fully realized in the lives of…

  • Sound and Fury

    Sound and Fury

    ★★★★½

    The brutality of Sound and Fury goes just far enough to clench your heart with terror and allow you to laugh at its absurdity, reminding the viewer of the pure ugliness of life. Although Brisseau stated the title was in reference to the work of Shakespeare and not Faulkner, I couldn't help but draw comparisons and marvel at the grotesqueness of such a chaotic and posioned family dynamic that has spawned such tortured youth, these gatekeepers of hell. Brisseau's focus…

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  • A Russian Youth

    A Russian Youth

    ★★★

    I am incredibly confused by this film’s intentions and no, that does not play into its favor. We are presented with a contemporary orchestra composing the soundtrack to a Russian WWI narrative, centered around a young soldier who is blinded (this happens early on). The narrative is incredibly painterly and has its own unique flourishes I did not anticipate yet lacks any true narrative cohesion to be anything more than a beautiful period piece. This film within the film also…

  • First Reformed

    First Reformed

    ★★★★★

    Bleak. Schrader’s newest film demonstrates his maturation as both a writer and director, paralleling Taxi Driver thematically while branding itself as a unique picture and remaining equally representative of the tumultuous period of its inception. Truly great performances are given by all its cast which at first glance may appear lackluster, especially from Hawke as the Reverend Toller who is more compelling than Taxi Driver’s Travis Bickle. While both men are consumed by their destructive greater purpose, Bickle acts almost…