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Nayak and A Hard Day’s Night

Criterion and Janus Films have restored and re-released A Hard Day’s Night (1964), opening in theaters in the US starting over the long holiday weekend. Seeing it on the big screen for the first time and looking and sounding so good after decades of VHS and tv is a thrill. What I don’t remember appreciating in all my previous viewings is what it has to say about pop celebrity in the mid 1960s. It is that particular point that made me keep thinking—amid the jokes, personality, energy, and THOSE SONGS—about Satyajit Ray’s Nayak (1966), released just two years later and also a loosely fictionalized but reality-grounded story of a day in the life of someone very, very famous.

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Deadly Art of Survival

It was while prowling around the lower portion of Manhattan than no-wave filmmaker Charlie Ahearn was approached by a group of young black kids curious about what he was doing with a movie camera. The idea that just some dude could borrow a camera and decide to make a movie without the apparatus or blessing of mainstream movie making was wild, and the kids thought it was awesome. They also thought he should make a movie about them and the kungfu school they attended, called Deadly Art of Survival. Just as punk and hip hop had a cultural exchange going early in their respective lifecycles, there had been, in the 1970s, an explosion of interest in Asian culture in the urban black community. Specifically, in kungfu films and the martial arts. Just as its easy to see what drew punk and hip hop together, so too is it pretty easy to understand what it was about kungfu films that young black men (mostly men) found exciting and empowering.

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Snowpiercer

Snowpiercer borrows a lot from/is very similar to The Hunger Games. Everyone is put in their respective places on the train and are forced to stay there. The poor huddled masses lie in the least-desired plot, and the weirdly-dressed rich assemble them together to cull children for their own nefarious purposes. This order is enforced by an army of jack-booted thugs, while the representative from the front of the train lectures the masses of their proper place. Like the books, food is an important issue, the tail end inhabitants eat only protein bars – gelatinous slabs – provided by the front, while the upper class passengers enjoy real food and even occasional sushi.

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The Girl Who Loved Tony Jaa

From the makers of Ong-Bak and The Protector, what I expected from Chocolate and what the movie delivered were two very different things. The central conceit is that the protagonist is an autistic girl with the ability to mimic any martial arts style she sees, but the film is much more dramatic than I anticipated, treating the challenges faced by family members with special needs with a surprising degree of dignity and respect.

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Harano Sur

This movie is insane, but I’m on board. I’m on board, but this movie is insane. You know what I mean? It’s insane because of its plot, an extreme version of stalking=love, its creepiness and ethics violations hidden by a white lab coat and the contemporary audience’s indulgence of all things Suchitra Sen-Uttam Kumar romance. Psychiatrist Roma (Suchitra)

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Faces in the Crowd

Anna is your typical impossibly beautiful kindergarten teacher living with her handsome but dull boyfriend Bryce. After a regular girls’ night out with a BFF that includes Lori Grimes (aka Sarah Wayne Callies, showing she can be way more fun than grating) sporting spectacularly weird red hair, Anna witnesses popular serial killer Tearjerk Jack (yes, it’s a dumb name but that’s just the beginning) finishing off his latest victim near a completely empty bridge. Just as she catches a glimpse of his mug, Anna tumbles off said empty bridge only to awaken in a hospital with face blindness.

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