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Classic Movie Review: Le Samouraï (1967)
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Le Samouraï Criterion

Le Samouraï
Blu-ray
Directed by Jean-Pierre Melville
Written by Jean-Pierre Melville
Starring: Alain Delon, Francois Perier, Nathalie Delon, Cathy Rosier, Michel Boisrond
Release Date: October 25, 1967
Criterion Blu-Ray Release Date: November 14, 2017

– Why, Jef?
– I was paid to.

A simple line of dialogue like this has a tremendous amount of substance behind it. The hitman’s ruthless, taciturn response here embraces the rigid mentality of almost all of French director Jean-Pierre Melville’s characters. In essence, they all remain true to their word. His characters are obsessively dedicated to their particular craft or talent, rendering them masters at what they do.

Just like some of his most memorable ones, such as the priest in Leon Morin, Priest, the gangsters in Le Circle Rouge, the resistance fighters in Army of Shadows, and the Nazi officer in Silence de la Mer, the hitman in Le Samouraï is governed through an austere, lonely landscape by an inexorable code they must adhere to. His code and his talent as a scrupulous assassin are everything he owns.

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Classic Movie Review: Come and See (1985)
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Come And See review

Come and See
Directed by Elem Klimov
Starring: Aleksey Kravchenko, Olga Mironova, Liubomiras Laucevicius, and Juri Lumiste
U.S. Theatrical Release Date: February 6, 1985
Available on FilmStruck

Often my daughter comes running to me in a state of pure excitement prompting me to either “come and see this” or “come and see that.” She’s undoubtedly enthralled by whatever it is that seems to have captivated her for that specific second. She’s a child with boundless wonder, finding everything very fascinating.

A similar childlike wonder is on display in the 1985 Russian film Come and See, which documents the ruthlessness of the Nazi forces as they tear their way through Belarus villages in 1943. Aptly titled, writer and director Elem Klimov’s film is told totally from the perspective of a child. It just so happens the child, Florya (Aleksey Kravchenko), roughly 12 or 13 years old, is completely enraptured by war and the valor and courage that he believes comes with it. He can’t wait to tell his mom to “come and see what I’ll be doing.”

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Classic Movie Review: High Noon (1952)
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High Noon review

High Noon
Directed by Fred Zinnemann
Starring: Gary Cooper, Grace Kelly, Lloyd Bridges, Thomas Mitchell, Lon Chaney Jr., Katy Jurado, Ian MacDonald, Lee Van Clef, Robert J. Wilke, Sheb Wooley
Theatrical Release Date: July 30, 1952
Available now on Blu-ray

There it is, that faint, catchy tune written by Dimitri Tiomkin and Ned Washington, and sung by Tex Ritter that continuously makes its way back in High Noon. It’s beautiful, it’s in nearly every frame, and finally is pervading the entire film, pretty much conquering it. Do not forsake me oh my darling. There it is again. It’s a most haunting tune that astonishingly places us inside the head of Will Kane (Gary Cooper), a well respected marshal of a well established Wild West town desperately seeking to maintain its civilization rather than succumbing again to barbarism.

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Movie Review: Eighth Grade
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Eighth Grade movie review

Eighth Grade
Written & directed by Bo Burnham
Starring: Elsie Fisher, Josh Hamilton, Emily Robinson, Jake Ryan, Luke Prael, Catherine Oliviere
A24 Films
Rated R | 94 minutes
Theatrical Release Date: July 13, 2018

Eighth Grade shouldn’t be seen as a film quick to critique this generation’s youth or their obsessive reliance on technology and social media. Instead, the film allows us to experience what it’s like to grow up in this era where the most crucial provisions aren’t food and water, but, rather, likes, hashtags, and views that provide sufficient sustenance. This all gets in the way of genuine human interaction.

Director Bo Burnham‘s impressive feature film debut is uncontaminated by traditional narrative devices found in other high-school dramas depicting the coming-of-age story. His film is concerned with the present, but also has its sights always on the future. It gets deep inside the head of a 14-year-old girl who’s waiting for someone to call out and acknowledge her. No matter how hard she tries, she hardly succeeds. It’s a constantly elusive ideal to her, and it shouldn’t be searched for through gratification on social media.

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Best Movies Of 2018 … So Far — Three-D’s Picks
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Hereditary movie review Movies Of 2018

Already halfway through the year and we have experienced some grand films (still need to check out Paul Schrader’s supposed masterpiece First Reformed). Such a reassuring fact since a lot of people proclaimed cinema to be dead a year ago or so. We have witnessed art house masterpieces, horror films that won’t soon be forgotten, and blockbuster films that proved to have big topics on their minds and a beating heart. But the best of the best so far this year were films that made their characters approach something that was guaranteed to frighten and shake some to their core on their way to discovering truths, even if they were hard to handle. Here are the Best Movies of 2018 … So Far, presented in alphabetical order with an additional ten honorable mentions.

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Movie Review: Sicario: Day Of The Soldado
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Sicario: Day Of The Soldado review

Sicario: Day Of The Soldado
Directed by Stefano Sollima
Written by Tyler Sheridan
Starring: Josh Brolin, Benecio Del Toro, Isabela Moner, Catherine Keener, Matthew Modine, Elijah Rodriguez, Jeffrey Donovan
Theatrical Release Date: June 29, 2018

“Adios,” a hitman ruthlessly tells a helpless man on the ground just before he’s about to unload a ton of shells into him. But before this, the hitman tells the man to put on his glasses so he can see who’s going to kill him. And this is the core of the Sicario films, wanting us to see clearly the violence encompassing us.

The enticing trait that the Sicario films (the first film was in 2015) maintain is their menacing sense of dread and impending doom that looms over them. Steady by steady the films tighten, introducing new dangers that squash previous ones, immediately fascinating its viewers with chaos and acquainting them with a sliver of hell while analyzing the War on Drugs.

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Classic Movie Review: Night Moves (1975)
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Night Moves (1975) movie review

Night Moves (1975)
Blu-ray | DVD | Digital HD
Directed by Arthur Penn
Starring: Gene Hackman, Melanie Griffith, Janet Ward, James Woods, Harris Yulin, Anthony Costello, Susan Clark, Edward Binns, and Jennifer Warren
Theatrical Release Date: June 11, 1975

– Who’s winning?
– Nobody. One side is just losing slower than the other.

By the time this dialogue occurs you begin to wonder why it took so long for it to be uttered. In 1975 America was striving to overcome the Vietnam War and still reeling from the pungent behavior of those corrupt individuals involved in the deceitful doings of Watergate. The influence of these events were inescapable, thus creating turbulent times all around, especially in cinema.

Night Moves, where the aforementioned quote is from, in particular, directed by Arthur Penn and scripted by Alan Sharp, is a feverish noir that was fully aware of the incessant confusion and mournful distress swallowing up our world at that time, rendering the population hopeless. It’s this kind of cinema, so inextricably tied to its era, that still manages to achieve a sense of timelessness. That’s because of its inquisitive nature to discern truth even if it means losing every now and then.

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Classic Movie Review: A Woman Under The Influence
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A Woman Under the Influence

A Woman Under the Influence
Directed by John Cassavetes
Starring: Gena Rowlands, Peter Falk, Katherine Cassavetes, Lady Rowlands, Fred Draper, Eddie Shaw
Theatrical Release Date: November 18, 1974
Criterion Collection Release Date: November 4, 2008

American director John Cassavetes once stated that “marriage isn’t a romance totally. Very sparse moments do you have to be romantic in a marriage.” His 1974 film A Woman Under the Influence beautifully reiterates his philosophy tremendously. The idea of love and relationships always had an enormous impact on all of Cassavetes’ pictures. While watching A Woman Under the Influence while being familiar with the aforementioned quote you realize how little romance is shown in the quintessential romantic way.

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Movie Review: You Were Never Really Here
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You Were Never Really Here review

You Were Never Really Here
Written & directed by Lynne Ramsay
Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Judith Roberts, Ekaterina Samsonov, John Doman, Alex Manette
Amazon Studios
Release Date: April 6, 2018

It seems like he is merely existing. His beard, unkempt with tinges of gray in it, is slowly beginning to swallow his face. He looks drastically out of shape. We see him prowling around at night with no oomph in his step. He’s simply there, probably wishing he wasn’t. More than likely he’s been faltering for a long time now just waiting to fade away, overwhelmed by a past that has crippled him mentally and sucked a good chunk of life out of him physically. His name is Joe (Joaquin Phoenix) and he’s a gun…or should I say hammer for hire.

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Classic Movie Review: Taipei Story
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Taipei Story

Taipei Story
Directed by Edward Yang
Starring: Hsiao-Hsien Hou, Chen Tsai, Su-Yun Ko
Theatrical Release Date: April 22nd, 1985
Criterion Collection Release Date: May 30th, 2017

There is such an abundance of longing lingering within each frame of Edward Yang’s 1985 film Taipei Story. It is impossible to neglect since each scene that passes tends to be more sorrowful than the last.

The Taiwanese nights, filmed impeccably and beautifully by Wei-Han Yang, tend to be grieving and pulsating with life. Still, nothing seems to truly satisfy the city (it always wanting more on its way to modernity and being globalized) or the characters (who are not pleased with the present). Hence, their infinite longing. There is always going to be a particular something, be it the past, a career, or an ex-lover, that will be in the way of not only happiness but of contentment as well.

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