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Multiple identities in Lola and Bilidikid

In the first sequence of Kutlug Ataman’s Lola and Bilidikid (Lola und Bilidikid, Germany, 1999), a young man is walking in a park at night. Murat (Baki Davrak) – an expression of anxiety on his face, his body tense – has ventured into the darkness. The park is the huge Tiergarten in the middle of […]

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Toshiro Mifune in Mexico: Ismael Rodriguez’s Ánimas Trujano

Ánimas Trujano (Mexico, 1962) starts as a documentary film with images of a festival which the villagers in the Mexican State of Oaxaca are celebrating in honour of their patron saint. A voice-over narrator explains the role of the mayordomo, a respected member of the community who is elected to organize the various religious and […]

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Four Frames: The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019)

MATTHEW 25, 6: And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman (2019), his final – we think? – go round the mobster realm and that detailed world and times he knows so well is peopled by … well, let’s just say “colourful” characters. […]

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War as absurdity: Kihachi Okamoto’s Desperado Outpost

Desperado Outpost (Dokuritsu gurentai, Japan, 1959) starts with shots of a man on horseback in a landscape reminiscent of a Western. This hero is Japanese, and the action is set in the wide-open spaces of the Manchurian steppe in the summer of 1945 near the end of the Sino-Japanese War. Okamoto’s approach to the war […]

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Four Frames: God’s Own Country (Francis Lee, 2017)

  Love is patient and kind, love is not jealous or boastful, it is not arrogant or rude. – 1 Corinthians 13 In Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain (2005), the course of true love never did run smooth. In Francis Lee’s multi-award-winning God’s Own Country (2017), a film predictably if unhelpfully tagged the “Brexit Brokeback,” things […]

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Sociopolitical reality as horror: Joon-ho Bong’s The Host

The Host (Gwoemul, South Korea, 2006) starts with gloomy images in a morgue at an American military base in South Korea. Evil is predicted when a pathologist orders his assistant to dump a large amount of formaldehyde in a drain at the base. A few years later, a monstrous creature emerges from the River Han […]

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Four Frames: how Raw is about the animal in all of us

In its opening scenes, Julia Ducournau’s Raw  establishes Justine (Garance Marillier) as a strict vegetarian; when she finds a piece of meat in her mashed potatoes at a buffet, she spits it out with repulsion. However, through a series of increasingly squirm-inducing moments, Ducournau traces her protagonist’s journey to the polar opposite of the gastronomic spectrum: […]

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Four Frames: discover Éric Rohmer’s heartfelt testament to parenthood

Éric Rohmer was fascinated by philosopher Blaise Pascal’s ‘wager’ of faith, a literal gamble one takes in either believing or not believing in God. Believing is the best ‘bet’ one can make, since there is no way of losing: “If you win, you win everything; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager that he exists […]

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Four Frames: a dive into the existential world of Tarkovsky’s Stalker

The central location in Andrei Tarkovsky’s meditative Stalker sounds like something out of a fairy tale: deep within “The Zone” – a mysterious and ever-shifting landscape left on Earth by some unknown entity – is a room that realises its inhabitants’ deepest desires. In theory, this location should be a gift, and perhaps it was […]