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  • Persona

    Persona

    ★★★★★

    Oh man, where do I start? Persona defies interpretation; in fact, one of the many themes of the film is the very struggle with interpretation. This film has so many different ways to interpret it that you could watch it hundreds of times and see something new each time. (it blows my mind how complex Persona manages to be in just 85 minutes). At the core of the film— the thread that runs through it all— is duality. The duality of things…

  • Rashomon

    Rashomon

    ★★★★★

    Lashes of rain, spouts of water. A deluge, a torrential spray. All sliding over roof, sluicing down timbers, around pillars of wood, splashing into muddy puddles on the ground. It is a dissected tour; an intro sequence of close images, weather against architecture. Then— we get an image of the edifice as a whole. Rashomon Gate. All the parts together, the complete structure: it is a ruin in the rain, half-formed, jagged with its bones poking out, and degraded by…

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  • Chocolat

    Chocolat

    ★★★★

    Aesthetically stunning right from the first shot, when sand, water, and ocean intermingle in shades of the same warm beige. Silhouetted by distance, a father and son play and splash in the froth of the waves. This use of soft and ethereal light pervades much of the film, accentuating its theme of recollection and childhood, as everything bears the same golden edge. The way the sun rests upon the contours of the mother’s face. How the light diffuses evenly over…

  • In Vanda's Room

    In Vanda's Room

    The strengths of Costa’s developing style are dropped, and all sense of narrative or character are abandoned. In Vanda’s Room casts away the ambiguity, the ellipses, and the poetry of Costa’s previous work. In Ossos, the first of the Fontainhas trilogy, narrative was not the focus, yet the film was still made cohesive by its dreamlike mood and shadowy poetry. Vanda’s Room is still fragmentary, but no longer dreamlike. The style has progressed even further away from the trappings of…

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  • Nomadland

    Nomadland

    ★★★★½

    Loss leaves behind vast, sprawling spaces. When those rough hands of the unknown tear apart the future, they leave only distance, dizzying and dark. It is the terrain of quiet grief— an emotion that flawlessly fits over the American landscape, in all its wide plains, dim deserts, and far-away mountain ridges. And in Chloe Zhao’s Nomadland, we don’t ever see the initial impact of grief, but we are always reminded of what it hardens into: a tough, trampled road, running…

  • Jojo Rabbit

    Jojo Rabbit

    ★★★★

    While Jojo Rabbit operates with striking colours and seemingly simple themes, it has far more depth hidden just out of sight, inside all its crawl-spaces and concealed rooms. It may seem like the film only presents self-evident truths— such as ‘Nazis are bad’ ‘war is awful,’ ‘love is the antidote to hate,’ and so on— but each of these truths functions as the tip of an iceberg, revealing themselves against this symmetric sea of pleasing colours, and conveying a vast,…