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Year: Stars: Rating: Reviewer:

24 Frames (2017)

For what turned out to be his crowning work, Abbas Kiarostami, the perdurable experimenter opted, for the first time in his career, to try his hand at animation. Some segments were filmed in color, the majority in black-and-white. Not a word was spoken, there is but a single movement of ... (NR)

5.0 starsScott Marks

63 Up (2019)

The lives of fourteen subjects are observed staring at age seven and followed by incremental updates every seven years. What was originally intended as a one-off documentary on the British class system for the topical news series is now in its ninth installment. There were many characters that I grew ... (NR)

5.0 starsScott Marks

The Act of Killing (2013)

Only in a world with democracy and corruption to spare are gangsters treated like movie stars. Director Joshua Oppenheimer set out to explore the “nature of impunity” by offering celebrated Indonesian death squad leaders a cinematic platform on which to reenact their participation in the genocide of 1965 — in ... (NR)

5.0 starsScott Marks

The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe (1952)

Buñuel's rascally subversions and perversions seem, in a way, more precious in the period prior to when they were expected of him (him, the Sovereign Surrealist), when instead they had to be smuggled out furtively, nervily, when they came from under the counter only. And there is hardly a better ... (NR)

5.0 starsDuncan Shepherd

Alice in the Cities (1974)

The homeward odyssey of a disheveled German journalist who, in New York City, gets stuck with the responsibility of escorting back to Europe a callously abandoned nine-year-old girl. (In handling this Paper Moon relationship, the movie flirts constantly with sentimentality but is too low on energy and passion to make ... (NR)

5.0 starsDuncan Shepherd

Alphaville (1964)

Prologue: "Reality is too complex, so you make it fiction to make it comprehensible." What this fiction is about, according to its tentative original title, is "Tarzan vs. IBM." Godard takes his hero from the public domain, the pulp domain — Lemmy Caution, a sort of Gallic Mike Hammer — ... (NR)

5.0 starsDuncan Shepherd

Anatomy of a Murder (1959)

Merely the best courtroom drama ever committed to film, with its lively theatrics tempered by sober and unbudging moral ambiguity. It is hardly less remarkable as perhaps the most mature consideration of rape (least polemical, least hysterical) ever put on film. And in the semi-retired asexual backwoods lawyer who really ... (NR)

5.0 starsDuncan Shepherd

The Assassin (2015)

In a word, stunning. After an eight-year absence, world cinema’s foremost aesthete, Hou Hsiao-Hsien, returns with a vengeance. Shu Qi, Director Hou’s leading lady of choice, stars as a 9th-century enforcer, taught to kill by the nun who raised her and later contracted to take out her former husband-to-be. ... (NR)

5.0 starsScott Marks

Barren Lives (Vidas Secas) (1962)

One of the earliest and still proudest examples of the Brazilian Cinema Nôvo, based on the celebrated Graciliano Ramos novel — a South American Grapes of Wrath — about a peasant family scratching out a living in the inclement Northeast. It offers a brutally materialistic vision of life, in the ... (NR)

5.0 starsDuncan Shepherd

Beauty and the Beast (1946)

A traditional fairytale kingdom of enchanted forest, decaying castle, and magic, poetic occurrence is laid out by Jean Cocteau, perfect in every detail: the crowd-pleasing cinematic sleights-of-hand, the resplendent, soft-toned imagery of France's "quality cinema," the fragile, fine-china beauty of Josette Day, and the humiliatingly hairy makeup of Jean Marais. (NR)

5.0 starsDuncan Shepherd

Bell, Book, and Candle (1958)

Witchcraft comedy, fittingly bewitching, from the John Van Druten stage play, exploring extensively the metaphor of love as a magical power, a spell, an enchantment, a transfigurement. Meaningful use of the Bohemian ambience of Greenwich Village (regardless how artificially reproduced on the backlot); smartly cast, from the top-billed James Stewart ... (NR)

5.0 starsDuncan Shepherd

The Bells of St. Mary's (1945)

Trivia experts will instantly peg Leo McCarey’s The Bells of St. Mary’s as the title splashed across the Radio City Music Hall marquee while Michael Corleone and his future bride, Kay, do their Christmas shopping in The Godfather. McCarey’s Bells really has more in common with Coppola’s second installment, inasmuch ... (NR)

5.0 starsScott Marks

The Big Clock (1948)

Near-perfect murder mystery, from a novel by the poet Kenneth Fearing, about a Big Town crime reporter, overdue for vacation, following a killer's trail that seems to lead straight to himself. Classically compressed in time and space (two of the three "unities"), and the action (the third) is ushered along ... (NR)

5.0 starsDuncan Shepherd

The Birds (1963)

Hitchcock's shocker about an avian air attack on the citizenry of Bodega Bay is constructed along the lines of a sci-fi invasion film. Divested of all logic, this assault on middle-class complacency exposes Hitchcock's sadistic tendencies as nakedly as they have ever been. There is a lightening of load thanks ... (PG-13)

5.0 starsDuncan Shepherd

Black Souls (Anime nere) (2014)

Three brothers – Rocco (Peppino Mazzotta), the brains, Luigi (Marco Leonardi), the brawn, and Luciano (Fabrizio Ferracane), the goat-herding outcast – each with a different vision of what direction the “family business” should take. The stories are workaday, but the storytelling is anything but in Francesco Munzi’s instant gangster classic. ... (NR)

5.0 starsScott Marks