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John Beckmann
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Spiderman -- into the Spider-verse
About two-thirds of the way through the movie Spiderman -- Into the Spider Verse , the young hero's father comes to visit his son in his Brooklyn dormitory room.  Behind a closed door, the youth, Miles Morales, is cocooned in spider-silk, bound to a chair w...
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Giants and Toys
A Japanese salary-man is coughing up blood due to overwork.  His subordinate says that he wants to escape the mad pace of life in the Tokyo business world: "I will live like a human being," the subordinate proclaims.  "Are you kidding?" his boss says, "this...
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Willie Doright, protector of minor goddesses
  The goddess of the grove was a minor deity, gentle, humble, and unassuming. Women prayed to her, not for fertility or to protect them in child birth, but, rather, for relief from PMS. She didn’t raise the dead or heal the sick, but petitions to her were...
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Roma
Late in the film, Alphonse Cuaron's Roma (2018) establishes a location by showing a Mexican residential street during a downpour.  A man and boy stand under a precarious-looking shelter and speak to another.  The subtitle says "Speaking an indigenous langua...
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Eskimo
The story of  how Eskimo (1933) was made is probably more interesting than what's on the screen.   That said, the movie is pretty good and, certainly, fascinating throughout.  The ethnographic imagery in the film is probably valuable today -- no one hunts o...
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42nd Street
Everyone knows 42nd Street (1933), the movie musical that invented most of the clichés infesting the genre .  The show must go on.  Naïve chorus girls submit to the "casting couch."  When the tough-as-nails leading lady breaks her ankle, a winsome chorine f...
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Fake or Fortune?
As I grow older, I seem to spend more time reading art history and criticism and books about archaeology.  Both of these fields are immense and variegated and, perhaps, due to old age, I don't really seem to retain much of what I read -- therefore, I have t...
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The Magnificent Ambersons
The Magnificent Ambersons is a film that I have seen, perhaps, 10 times.  Like all classics, the contours of the picture change imperceptibly with each viewing.  The movie that I watch now on Criterion's new Blu-Ray is different from the picture that I firs...
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The Profound Desires of the Gods
Because Shohei Imamura's epic film, The Profound Desires of the Gods (1968), is, at least in part, a sprawling family chronicle, the viewer's first impulse is to chart the lineage of the people shown in the film.  This turns out to be a daunting objective a...
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Distant Voices Still Lives
Terence Davies' 1988  Distant Voices Still Lives is an audacious exploration of memory.  Memory is non-narrative, unpredictable, and associative -- and, so, these are the characteristics of Davies' film about his childhood memories of lower middle-class fam...
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