Paul Schrader’s bracing, bruising First Reformed is the filmmaker’s most urgent offering in years, and one of 2018’s best. A warped retelling of Bresson’s Diary of a Country Priest filtered through Schrader’s trademark fixations, First Reformed focuses on something curiously absent from contemporary stories, even as it animates many moments of our public and private lives: despair at climate change, and almost paralyzing anxiety over the world we leave behind.
Richard Linklater has built an entire career as a study in points that do not quite intersect, moments that do not match, but somehow make complete sense placed together.
That’s an impressive feat for a guy who followed up the meandering, anarchic Slacker with the glazed hijinks and pre-collegiate accessibility of Dazed and Confused; the discursive, achingly romantic Before Sunrise (a romance he, with Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke, methodically chips away at in its sequels, constructing the greatest trilogy since Ray’s) with Eric Bogosian’s quasi-punky SubUrbia, followed promptly by a heist film (The Newton Boys).
For the near-entirety of its 80 minute running time, Blue Jay is a resolutely understated affair, more interested in partially-concealed longing and lingering, unspoken hurt than emotional fireworks.
Alex Lehman‘s character study comes pretty close to blowing this tone in its final moments, as we’re treated to outbursts we didn’t ask for and the film doesn’t need, but up until that point, it’s a lovely portrait of two people navigating their shared pasts and conflicted presents.
After the recent acclaim of Boyhood and the lovely triumph that is the Before Trilogy, it’s hard to imagine a modern American cinema without Richard Linklater. But when Dazed and Confused appeared on the screen in 1993, it came as a surprise, a fresh voice and a gentle, throwback approach to the “hangout movie” that resonated with fans of stoner comedies and wistful nostalgia alike.
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)
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.
The Big City, Indian master Satyajit Ray’s deeply feminist and empathetic 1963 depiction of a changing Calcutta, is nearly perfect in every way.
With nuanced performances, especially from the luminous Madhabi Mukherjee as Arati Mazumder and Anil Chatterjee as her wry, conflicted husband Subrata (Bhambal), and an effortless sense of place, custom, and the economic pressures that challenge tradition, the film is an utterly absorbing experience, by turns uplifting and heart-rending.
It’s awards season, and there’s no shortage of commentary. I might chime in myself in a few weeks. (Spoilers: Boyhood, Ida, The Immigrant, Under The Skin, and Noah would win all the things if it were up to me, and Uma Thurman would get a best Supporting Actress nod for Nymphomaniac Vol 1 — it is not, it turns out, up to me.)