Fantastic Planet (1973)

When it was originally released in 1973, Fantastic Planet immediately attracted considerable attention from critics who praised its surreal atmosphere, singular animation style and design. Undeniably, a good chunk of the reason why this film instantly became (and perhaps continues to be) a bottomless well for interpretation is owed to the artistic stamp left by Roland Topor. Some might even suggest that without his signature outlandish animated vision Fantastic Planet wouldn’t be half as rich as it is; and though there may be some validity to this statement, it is much safer to assume that René Laloux’s film is a prime example of a sum-of-its-parts film, or – better yet – a lightning in a bottle.  

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On Criticism: The Death of a Review and Who Is a Critic These Days Anyway?

I’ll be honest here: I have been gearing up to write on the subject of film criticism for a long while now. Sadly, finding motivation to sit down and write is a challenge for me these days. In fact, I wanted to write an article on this subject (my problems with motivation) as well, but – ironically enough – I can’t motivate myself to write it. But that’s a topic for a different day.

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I Care a Lot (2020)

Some films are results of a burning passion to tell a great story. Some come from a bleeding soul trying to describe extremely complex emotions using the language of moving images. Some come from more simple desires to offer entertainment to their audiences (and there’s nothing wrong with that). And then, there are some that try to guess what their audiences want to see in order to assert themselves in the popular culture. They are fakes, cinematic sociopaths smiling when it’s appropriate to smile and perfecting the art of saying the right thing at the right time without having a shred of original thought of their own. I Care a Lot is one such specimen.  

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Understanding Michael Haneke: Caché (2005)

Caché (Hidden) (2005)

All throughout his career Michael Haneke has been busy putting a scalpel to the wealthiest classes and flaying them methodically – layer after layer – to expose their flesh and the intricately woven network of delicate cardiovascular vessels pumping their azure blood. However, while doing so he has also been struggling with his own perspective and, hence, some of his work may give an impression that he has been engaged in this delicate surgical work whilst mounted atop a high horse of immovable moral authority. This is not the case here. Released in 2005, Caché proves unequivocally that at least for the moment Haneke was able to dismount and deliver his most cunning experiment in deconstructing the bourgeoisie, thus proving to be the pinnacle of his filmmaking career in my view. 

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The Kubrick Appreciation Project: The Killing (1956)

Stanley Kubrick referred to his 1956 noir caper The Killing as his first mature film. However, as Roger Ebert famously pointed out, it may be inappropriate to single it out as some kind of a fork in the road, let alone a watershed moment that set Kubrick on a trajectory to the pantheon of greatest filmmakers in history. Just as Ebert suggested, without the directing credit listed at the beginning of the movie, it would be very hard to trace it back to Kubrick. 

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Greenland (2020)

I have to admit that when I was sitting down to watch Greenland, I wasn’t really expecting much. In fact – I have to come clean – I was more or less looking forward to ‘veging out’ on a Saturday night while looking at Gerard Butler (for whom I do have a bit of a soft spot) do his utmost to save his family from an impending cataclysm.  

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The Uncut Gems Podcast – Episode 02: Assassination Nation

Episode 2 of our new podcast is now live! I thought I might as well start sharing this here too: (a) to increase visibility of the show and (b) maybe to offer a few notes of personal commentary on this whole project. After all, even though we are working as a team on this, The Uncut Gems Podcast is a bit of a baby of mine, so I think it’s not exactly inappropriate to document the process of expanding my own horizons from being a film writer to a podcaster as well.

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Malcolm & Marie (2021)

When Assassination Nation received a decidedly warm reception in Sundance 2018, Sam Levinson – who wrote and directed it – most likely did not anticipate his moment in the sun was going to be short-lived. Despite a generally positive critical consensus (with a few scathing takedowns peppered in the mix as well), the film did not become a hit with audiences when it was finally released theatrically across the world. People simply did not turn up to watch a heavily stylized social satire attempting to take a snapshot of America of its time. And something tells me Levinson took it personally.  

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