Becoming who you are, in Girlhood


In Céline Schiamma’s Girlhood, it’s all about the eyes.

Specifically, the eyes of Marieme (Karidja Touré), a quiet, reserved teen living in the Parisian projects. Throughout this excellent and unique coming-of-age film, Marieme goes through a number of phases and re-inventions, like we all do, but the constant is a singular sense of self we register in her eyes.


Health, Safety, and Solidarity – Two Days, One Night


The Dardenne brothers, Jean-Pierre and Luc, are known for their naturalistic, slice-of-life pictures, without exception focused on those existing on society’s margins. The Belgian filmmaking team prefers hard-scrabble protagonists – the downtrodden, the down-on-their-luck, and those stuck with impossible, occasionally tragic choices while trying to get by.


Every Poem Is A Coat Of Arms – Jean Cocteau and Blood of a Poet

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Part of an ongoing effort to watch a set of films from non-White, non-U.S., non-male, and/or non-straight filmmakers and depart a little from the Western canon. The intro and full list can be found here.

Jean Cocteau rejected the label “Surrealist.” Contrary to notions of fundamentally unknowable art, born of dream and mining allusion, he began 1932’s Blood of a Poet with a title card that reads almost like a battle cry:

Every poem is a coat of arms.


Farce and Tragedy in Timbuktu


The sand seems to stretch forever under cloudless skies, and time is marked by routine – herding cattle, relaxing with family under the humble shelter of a lean-to style tent, discussing the future, drinking tea. Timbuktu’s first half hour or so is a slow, quiet portrait of desert life in Mali; if it’s not exactly paradise, what with the sand whipping around and garments covering faces to protect them from the elements, it’s not too far from it, either.


Amy Schumer is as funny as Trainwreck will let her be (and that’s still very funny)


Trainwreck is Amy Schumer’s movie (a very good thing), but there’s no mistaking the influence of director Judd Apatow.

Almost without exception, Apatow’s “transgressive” comedies are, at their heart, deeply conservative. For all the naughty bits and ostentatious dancing around the line of decency, things are generally reconciled in the end in the name of family, monogamy, and the need for his man-children to grow up and take on responsibility in their lives.


And here are my 50 greatest movie characters: 11-20

Here are Greatest Movie Characters entries 11-20. First part is here. This is not a ranked list, and the ones below are entered in alphabetical order.

11) Clarice Starling (Silence of the Lambs)

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Anthony Hopkins might get the acclaim for his delightfully twisted turn as Hannibal Lector in Jonathan Demme’s Silence of the Lambs, but it’s Jodie Foster’s Clarice Starling that makes it work.