Film

#StreamingScene by Lawrence Garcia Film

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs | Joel & Ethan Coen

November 19, 2018
balladbuster

Composed of six dime-store tales from the frontier — complete with color plates! — and boasting an appropriately storybook feel (courtesy of cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel, who helms this first foray into digital), The Ballad of Buster Scruggs articulates, with ruthless efficiency, Joel and Ethan Coen’s bleak, sobering worldview. The result is “downright Archimedean,” to borrow from Buster Scruggs himself (Tim Blake Nelson), a preternaturally jolly psycho-killer who wreaks gleeful havoc all over the film’s first episode.…

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#StreamingScene by Matthew Lucas Film

Cam | Daniel Goldhaber

November 19, 2018
Cam

A suspicious charge on a credit card, a call from the bank — few among us haven’t experienced this. Mostly the notifications cause minor inconvenience, but that isn’t always the case. Set in the world of “cam-girls” — women who perform sexual acts in online chat rooms for money — Daniel Goldhaber’s feature debut, Cam, derives its horror from the all-too-real idea of a total identity theft, enacted through means of the digital world.…

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#StreamingScene by Zach Lewis Film

Zama | Lucrecia Martel

November 19, 2018
Zama

Antonio di Benedetto’s novel, Zama, is renowned for its simplicity, with most paragraphs a mere sentence in length; Lucrecia Martel’s film adaptation is full of detail. Where di Benedetto cuts descriptions short (even principal characters are dubbed “mulatto”), Martel fills every extended shot with sumptuous color and soundscapes. And where, at every point, di Benedetto skirts realism with blunt mystical phenomena, Martel builds surreality out of unexplained shifts in tone and volatile pacing.…

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#StreamingScene by Lawrence Garcia Film

The Wild Boys | Bertrand Mandico

November 19, 2018
The Wild Boys

The Wild Boys opens with a shimmering black-and-white title card, an homage to Kenneth Anger’s Fireworks, and voiceover that soon takes the viewer back to the violent origin of this delirious, gender-bending tale. Fueled by an impulse dubbed only “TREVOR” (which may stand in for hormonal adolescent fervor, violent masculine tendencies, or both), a group of five pubescent boys (all played by women) assault and murder their literature teacher in an orgiastic recreation of Macbeth.…

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#BlockbusterBeat by Matt Lynch Film

Widows | Steve McQueen

November 16, 2018
Widows

After celebrated prestige pictures like Shame and 12 Years a Slave, you’d be forgiven for expecting something less disreputable from Steve McQueen than Widows. But McQueen’s normal tendencies toward making “important” work (not to mention his gorgeous, tactile images) add essential texture to what’s basically a rambunctious exploitation movie dressed up in classier clothing. The action kicks off after Harry (Liam Neeson) and his thief club get blown up by the cops.…

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#StreamingScene by Matthew Lucas Film

Shirkers | Sandi Tan

November 16, 2018
Shirkers

In 1992, a group of teenage cinephiles in Singapore set out to make a film, gathering their friends and neighbors to assert their country’s place in the cinema world at large. That film, Shirkers, was written by aspiring filmmaker and critic Sandi Tan — whose friendship with a mysterious, married, middle-aged American ex-pat named Georges would have a lasting impact on her life. A film professor full of tall-tales and dubious motives, Georges eventually absconded with the complete footage…

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#StreamingScene by Daniel Gorman

Outlaw King | David Mackenzie

November 15, 2018
Screen Shot 2018-11-15 at 9.14.55 AM

Outlaw King cribs elements from every other medieval epic you’ve seen before — and that pandering is probably the point. It’s safe to assume that Netflix is backing this film in the first place because of the successes of Starz’s Outlander and HBO’s Game of Thrones; their algorithm must’ve crunched some numbers, cross-referenced demographic information, and — voila. What’s less obvious is why David Mackenzie would choose to helm this project.…

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#StreamingScene by Daniel Gorman Film

You Were Never Really Here | Lynne Ramsay

November 9, 2018
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There’s nothing in You Were Never Really Here that you haven’t seen before — but as the saying goes, it’s not always what your story is that matters but how you tell it; we’ve never seen Lynne Ramsay tell this story, and her perspective gives it new dimensions. Ramsay’s conception of the damaged male psyche is on a continuum with The Searchers’ Ethan Edwards and Taxi Driver’s Travis Bickle — like those anti-heroes, Joe (Joaquin Phoenix) has been shaped by conflict. But instead of violent colonization of the American…

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#BlockbusterBeat by Matt Lynch Film

The Girl in the Spider’s Web | Fede Álvarez

November 9, 2018
girl-dragon-claire-foy

David Fincher’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was less about the mystery of a serial killer picking off women, more about investigating its lead character, Lisbeth Salander. Nearly a complete enigma, Salander nevertheless served as a nodal point for Fincher’s obsession with digital/analog contrasts and his penchant for leaning into pulp tropes with a knowing, pandering smirk.…

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#StreamingScene by Daniel Gorman Film

The Night Comes for Us | Timo Tjahjanto

October 29, 2018
Night Comes

Genre fans tend to experience a palpable delight the first time they lay their eyes on a new classic, getting them thinking about the first time they saw, say, Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead 2, John Carpenter’s The Thing, John Woo’s holy trinity of A Better Tomorrow, The Killer and Hard Boiled, Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive, or Dario Argento’s Suspiria. Timo Tjahjanto’s The Night Comes for Us may not be quite at that lofty level, but damned if it doesn’t feel like it gets close.…

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by Lawrence Garcia Retrospective

Hotel by the River | Hong Sang-soo

October 26, 2018
gangbyun-hotel1

Even for a career with no discernable lack of winter pictures (cf. The Day He Arrives, The Day After), Hotel by the River stands out as Hong Sang-soo’s coldest film to date. Set in a curiously unfrequented hotel by the Han River, in the dead of winter, the film follows two guests: Younghwan (Ki Joobong), an aging poet who is visited by his two estranged sons (Kwon Haehyo and Yoo Joonsang); and a young woman (Kim Minhee), who’s recovering from…

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by Christopher Bourne Retrospective

Grass | Hong Sang-soo

October 26, 2018
Grass-Kim-Min-Hee

Hong Sang-soo packs a surprising amount of variety, complexity, and beguiling mystery into the 66-minute runtime of Grass. The film provides a brief but dense window of observation — and “observation” is the operative word here, since the central character, Areum (played by Hong’s now-frequent leading woman Kim Min-hee), eavesdrops on conversations while typing on her laptop, and comments on the action in the film’s voiceover. Areum claims to be “not a writer, just writing,” …

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