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A Letter to Momo

Even scenes that work, such as a climax on a rain-soaked bridge, feel like they could have been trimmed by a few hand-drawn frames. Maybe…

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Cannibal

Visually striking and confident but frustratingly hollow in terms of character and narrative.

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Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

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Thumbnails 3/13/14

1.

"2 Killed, 21 Injured After Alleged Drunk Driver Plows Into SXSW Crowd": Dennis Romeo at LA Weekly reports on the senseless tragedy that transpired last night. Related stories at Rolling Stone and BuzzFeed

"An alleged drunk driver plowed through barricades that were erected to close off an area for music fans at Austin's annual SXSW music festival, killing two people and sending 21 to hospitals, police told LA WeeklyA source at the scene told us that at least some of the fans in the area had lined up to see a performance by rapper Tyler the Creator of L.A.-based hip-hop crew Odd Future."

2.

"TV Stars Don't Need to Make It in the Movies Anymore": At Vulture, Kyle Buchanan why television stars no longer need to make that transition into movies to make it in Hollywood. 

"Once upon a time, when actors like Robin Williams, George Clooney, Jennifer Aniston, and Steve Carell left TV behind to embark on a movie career, it seemed like the most natural next step: They’d become so famous that the measly, lesser TV screen could no longer hold them. Movie stardom had long been considered the holy grail for a TV star to aspire to, and actors on the rise would agitate to get out of their small-screen contracts — or schedule their blossoming big-screen gigs around those infernal commitments — in order to make that second act happen."

3.

"Review: Interior. Leather Bar.": Nathan Lee at Film Comment pens unquestionably the most enjoyable and succinct piece of writing we've stumbled upon when it comes to James Franco's experimental project, Interior. Leather Bar.

"Directed by Franco and Travis Mathews, the hour-long featurette stages itself as a meta-making-of-documentary devoted to the meta-project of imagining, casting, re-creating, and filming 40 minutes of sexually explicit material rumored to have been excised from the original cut of Cruising. Released by United Artists in 1980, William Friedkin’s notorious thriller about a straight cop (Al Pacino) who goes undercover in New York’s hardcore gay leather scene to catch a serial killer remains to this day the most graphic representation of queer culture to come out of Hollywood. An amyl nitrate fever dream of leering subterranean perverts, delirious fisting orgies, and lurid montages of sodomy and stabbing, Cruising has been recuperated in some quarters as a singular archive of pre-AIDS sexual abandon. For others it remains a touchstone of Bad For The Gays cinema."

4.

"Negative Capabilities": The always brilliant Michael Koresky of Reverse Shot draws a connection between one of the most intellectually and emotionally demanding episodes of the The Sopranos and Gasper Noe's Irreversible. 

"The Sopranos featured perhaps the most powerful cut to black in television history. No, I’m not referring to the landmark pseudo-sayonara to the entire series, which has left the show’s devotees hanging in midair since June 2007. Instead, I’m calling attention to the unforgettable conclusion to the fourth episode of the third season, titled 'Employee of the Month.' Airing on March 18, 2001, it was one of this very great series’ emotional and intellectual high points and, it now seems in retrospect, a turning point for the show—the kind of television episode that, for those paying close enough attention, explicates an entire series."

5.

"Nymphomaniac: Vol. I" Dana Stevens at Slate takes down Lars von Trier's latest film (note: it somehow manages to make sex boring). 
"Nymphomaniac: Vol. I—the first installment of a two-part film whose second half will be released in early April—takes the viewer on an event-filled but ultimately tiresome trudge through the by-now-familiar psychosexual marshes of Lars von Trier’s imagination. In addition to many scenes of graphic, apparently unsimulated sex (in reality a seamless digital blend of the actors’ top halves with the business ends of body doubles from the porn world), Nymphomaniac boasts a Scandinavian-style smorgasbord of non sequiturs. There’s an extended metaphor comparing human sexual behavior and the art of fly-fishing. A montage of still close-ups of penises, accompanied by some racially tinged voice-over commentary about their respective hues and sizes. Illustrated exegeses on Bach’s three-part polyphony, Poe’s lonely death of delirium tremens, and the quasi-magical mathematical progression known as the Fibonacci sequence. Somewhere along the way Christian Slater will soil himself; more humiliatingly still, Shia LaBeouf will attempt a British accent. Yet for all its narrative swerves and stylistic disruptions, Nymphomaniac: Vol. I has an exhausting sameness, a centripetal solipsism that makes that “I” at the end of the title feel vaguely like a threat: Don’t be thinking we’re anywhere near done here. I don’t know when I’ve seen a movie that’s this unpredictable while also being this dull."

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