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The Dark Knight Rises

24 Jul

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

So begins Charles Dickens’ classic novel A Tale of Two Cities – a key text for Christopher Nolan and his brother Jonathan in crafting the long-awaited final instalment in The Dark Knight Trilogy which is even directly quoted during the events of the film. The Dark Knight Rises picks up eight years after the events of The Dark Knight with Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) a hermit and his chiropteran, vigilante persona long dormant after taking the rap for the murder of Gotham’s district attorney Harvey Dent. The fact that the seemingly-incorrigible Dent had been successfully corrupted by The Joker into the monstrous Two-Face has been hidden from the public by Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) and instead the authoritarian Dent Act has been passed in his name and, in the intervening years, succeeded in cleaning up the streets at the expense of due process.

Along comes a storm – Bane, a hulking, physical presence that is unlike anything that Batman has faced before in Nolan’s trilogy. He’s not as much of a psychological opponent as The Joker was in The Dark Knight (though he probably is more intelligent) nor is he as memorable but he pushes Batman’s body more than any of the caped crusader’s previous foes. As a domineering force that you wouldn’t be surprised to find mentioned somewhere in Dante’s notes, you’d be forgiven for not recognising the man behind Bane’s punk-Vader mask as Tom Hardy who completely submerges himself in the oddly-charismatic character.

Bane’s plan to destroy Gotham taps into the zeitgeist more than you may expect going in. A Robespierre-like figure, he preaches fairness, urges Gotham’s people to overthrow those people at the top of society’s ladder and, in one memorable set piece, launches an assault on the stock exchange. While the script was in all likelihood written before the Occupy movement came about, it doesn’t look upon any wannabe revolutionaries who want to enact a modern-day Storming of the Bastille in a positive manner. Which brings me to one of the film’s failings – Nolan fails to give us any indication of the effect these events have upon the ordinary people of Gotham. Do they go along with it? We’re not given any indication that they do but we’re not given any indication of resistance either. It’s as if they weren’t there at all but then, of course, there would be no one for Batman to save.

However, Batman/Bruce Wayne is not alone. His loyal butler, confidant and surrogate father Alfred has stuck by him, trying to prise him back into society after years of reclusiveness. In The Dark Knight Rises, the character really has his chance to shine and Michael Caine musters some of the best acting we’ve seen him do in recent years. Joining him by Wayne’s side is Selina Kyle, a slinky seductress and feline felon who is played purr-fectly by Anne Hathaway. Catwoman in all but name, she’s one of the most memorable aspects of the film which unfortunately doesn’t dedicate enough time to paw into her character in more depth. A more law-abiding new addition is police officer John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), an orphan who surprises Bruce with the revelation he’s figured out his secret identity. He proves to be a worthy ally who’s beliefs and virtues are on the same wavelength as Bruce’s own.

Rounding out the list of important new cast members is Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard) , a business partner of Bruce’s as well as a romantic interest. However, they don’t have nearly enough screen time together for a relationship to be plausible, never mind believable which leaves certain events in the film feeling a little emotionally hollow. Indeed, The Dark Knight Rises, just like it’s much-lauded predecessor, is not without its flaws: dialogue often feels overly expository; pacing is inconsistent; there’s an occasional descent into cliché. However, these can mostly be overlooked due to the fact that the film is unadulterated escapism of the highest order. Christopher Nolan has taken an adolescent genre and transformed it into a trilogy that feels operatic in its austereness, intelligent in its themes, engrossing in its narrative and is simply entertaining.

Certainly, in an era where many, if not most, blockbusters are just plain infantile, Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy has been a shining beacon – lighting the way for what can and should be done with Hollywood’s millions in a time where, for cinema, the opening of A Tale of Two Cities does seem incredibly apt.


Moonrise Kingdom

29 May

Over the sixteen years since his debut feature Bottle Rocket, indie-posterboy Wes Anderson has honed and perfected his trademark idiosyncratic, arch style. If directors were associated with food products, Anderson would almost certainly be the love-it-or-hate-it Marmite – those who love his style really love his style and those who don’t find each and every film he makes irritating and insufferable. I, for one, fall firmly into the former category, having never seen an Anderson film I’ve disliked – including his latest, the 60s-set Moonrise Kingdom which is Anderson’s feature-length entry into the love-on-the-run genre that he previously touched upon in The Royal Tenenbaums when Richie and his adopted-sister Margot run away to the Natural History Museum.

This time there are no museums and no awkward family ties to put a downer on things. Moonrise Kingdom follows Sam (Jared Gilman), an orphaned boy-scout and Suzy (Kara Hayward), who feels unloved by her two lawyer parents (played by two Anderson staples – Bill Murray and Francis McDormand) as they run away together on their island-home of New Penzance, sparking a crisis in the community. Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis) and Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton), along with Sam’s former scout-comrades, are charged with tracking them down and, in typical Anderson fashion, all involved experience some-sort of self-discovery.

Sam is a character in the mould of previous Anderson protagonists – bespectacled, spunky, full of wit and charm. Suzy on the other hand, is more reserved – a bookworm who uses binoculars to observe people from a distance. They both desire the love that they’re not being given – Sam, due to the fact he’s and orphan; Suzy, due to the fact her parents have forgotten how to love each other as well as their rebellious daughter – and they find it in each other.

Gilman and Hayward, who both make their debut in the film, give strong performances and translate the honesty and sincerity of the script to something believable and utterly captivating on screen – even if they don’t always appear comfortable delivering the lines they’ve been given. The only other actors that I’ve seen do such a commendable job in conveying young love are Ann-Sofie Kylin and Rolf Sohlman in Roy Andersson’s sadly underseen masterpiece, A Swedish Love Story. 

Whether or not Wes Anderson has seen that film, I can’t say but his films always wear their inspirations on the sleeve and Moonrise Kingdom is no different. By far the most prominent of these is Jean-Luc Godard’s Pierrot le fou – the nouvelle vague’s take on the love-and-the-run genre. In both films, the couples set up camp on a beach, however, Pierrot le fou was much less romantic than Moonrise Kingdom where the beach is the setting for the film’s most amorous scenes.

More subtlety, the film evokes Terrence Malick’s debut film Badlands – another decidedly unromantic love-on-the-run. Ironically, while Sam and Suzy are much younger than their counterparts in either film, their romantic tryst is much more mature. In Badlands, the use of Carl Orff’s Gassenhauer as the main musical theme lends a sense of juvenility to the featured romance but in Moonrise Kingdom, the soundtrack is used for entirely different ends.

Anderson always carefully crafts the soundtracks for his films and in Moonrise Kingdom it seems especially emblematic to the action and themes of the film itself. In the beginning of the film, we see Suzy’s three brothers avidly listening to a record of English composer Benjamin Britten’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra which showcases the capacities of each section of the orchestra – the original theme is deconstructed then reconstructed into a fugue which could represent the structure of the film itself – the ordered community dissolves into chaos which thankfully manages to reconstruct itself.

Another Britten piece with a presence in the film is Noye’s Fludde, an opera adaptation of one of the Chester mystery plays which Britten stipulated be performed by amateur children in a non-theatrical setting, preferably a church – this time the Church of St. Jack on New Penzance. During the production, Sam and Suzy first meet and Anderson, who films it beautifully with candle-light, could not not have picked a better opera to stage. A riff on the Biblical tale of Noah’s Ark, it emphasises cooperation, togetherness and love – perhaps the main themes of the entire film.

Another notable musical selection is that of Françoise Hardy’s Le temps de l’amour to accompany Sam and Suzy’s mating dance on the beach – one of the most romantic scenes I can remember from recent years. The song states (in French) that, although love lasts forever, it is still too short – it is no wonder that the young couple are desperate to be together, rather than apart.

Perhaps even more important than the sounds are the visuals and for his latest production Anderson has decided to shoot with 16mm (aka Super 16). Anderson has always had a rather Tolkien-esque attention to detail and Moonrise Kingdom allows him to extend this to the outdoors much more than he has before. The visible grain gives the image depth and a vérité feel that contrasts with Anderson’s dollhouse-like composition but, I’m pleased to say, everything works perfectly, meshing together into a delightful synthesis of picturesque beauty.

Anderson is perhaps the modern master of what Michael Powell termed “the composed film” where each element is given careful consideration and, whether complimenting or contrasting, come together into a harmonious whole. Moonrise Kingdom is certainly Anderson’s most technically accomplished film and may even be his best. At a paltry 93 minutes, I was left wanting more – not because there was anything missing but because I was enjoying the world on screen to such a degree that I didn’t want to leave and perhaps that, more than anything else, is the highest praise I can bestow on a film.

The Hunger Games

24 Mar

I’ve sat through a lot of ‘young adult’ adaptations over the past few years – from the mediocre Harry Potter series to the plain awful Twilight saga – and The Hunger Games trilogy, adapted from the bestselling novels by Suzanne Collins, is being touted as their successor in the business of harvesting the pocket money of so-called ‘tweens’. However, almost shockingly, The Hunger Games is actually good. I’d even go a bit further than that – it’s great!

Directed by Gary Ross (Seabiscuit), The Hunger Games is set in the futuristic, dystopian nation of Panem, named after the Roman method of subduing a population into harmless docility ‘panem et circenses’ or ‘Bread and Circuses’. Here, the entertainment takes the form of the titular Hunger Games where two young citizens (one male, one female) of each district, picked at random, are sent to participate in a televised fight to the death. The plot is quite evidently influenced by everything from the myth of Theseus to the aforementioned Ancient Rome to, controversially, the Japanese novel/film/manga Battle Royale. However, the film more than stands its ground, perhaps because its critique of reality television and themes dealing with oppressive, manipulative governments are worryingly timely.

The Hunger Games focuses on Katniss Everdeen, brilliantly played by Jennifer Lawrence who was Oscar-nominated for her role in Winter’s Bone, who volunteers to take the place of her younger sister and represent District 12 in the arena. Katniss is one of the most memorable heroines of recent memory – a relatable character who’s plight, whether it is the struggle keeping her family alive back home or her struggle to survive in the games, is emotionally engaging. In a time where heroines seem to purely exist as psychosexual objects, Katniss is a breath of fresh air. Joining her as the male tribute from District 12 is Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) who, unbeknownst to Katniss, has harboured a crush on her for several years – which, when revealed, clearly doesn’t please Katniss’ friend and hunting partner Gale (Liam Hemsworth).

Stylistically, the film is very impressive. Director Gary Ross has managed to envelope the film in an atmospheric malaise – an ominous tone of dread that manages to accentuate the most important themes that The Hunger Games deals with. In order to make the film suitable for it’s target PG-13/12A audience, the violence has been toned down but this has the effect of necessitating some stylish techniques in order to properly get the message across. The use of sound – or lack of – tautly conveys the fear and disorientation Katniss experiences; the handheld camera work during the games implants you into the arena, giving you an insight into the horrifyingly sadistic government tool as a contestant would experience it and the editing of certain scenes, such as the rebellion in District 11, made me think that it was Battleship Potemkin for the modern teenager.

The only negative I have regarding the film is that the CGI looked surprisingly primitive. In 2012, where entire films can be constructed from CGI, there really is no excuse for not managing to conjure up a convincing fire. The only explanation that I have is that they ran out of money but there was never any question that this film was going to be a resounding box-office success. However, unusually, this film is a blockbuster that is intelligent, interesting and very well-made. Time will tell if Ross manages to successfully adapt the two sequels which, as books, were noticeably weaker than the first entry but – as the menacing President Snow (Donald Sutherland) chillingly states, hope is the only thing stronger than fear.

Yi Yi

11 Mar

Despite losing out to Lars Von Trier’s polarising musical Dancer in the Dark for the Palme d’Or at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival, Edward Yang’s Yi Yi (A One and A Two), which managed to pick up Best Director, is almost unarguably the better film. An intimate, epic portrait of the middle-class Jian family, Yi Yi focuses on individuals from three different generations – the middle-aged NJ (Wu Nien-Jen), the teenaged Ting-Ting (Kelly Lee) and the young Yang-Yang (Jonathan Chang) in order to provide a commentary on life itself. At the centre of the story is NJ’s comatose mother-in-law (Tang Ru-Yun) whom the family have to care for and converse to.

As the world-weary businessman NJ, Yang cast the famed actor/director/screenwriter Wu Nien-Jen who gives an impressive performance with subtle but powerful emotion. In contrast to his wife Min-Min (Elaine Jin) who undergoes an explosive emotional breakdown, NJ’s mid-life crisis is inward and reserved. It is a malaise that’s sparked when he encounters his former love, Sherry (Ko Su-Yun), who attempts to get back into his life. The attraction between them is undiminished but NJ cannot decide whether or not to let her back into his life – hindered by what kept them apart 30 years ago as well as his current martial vows. On top of this, he cannot seem to reconcile his honest nature with his naturally dishonest occupation.

Concurrently, his daughter Ting-Ting has entered a relationship with Fatty (Pang Chang Tu) whose stark realism contrasts with her optimistic view on life. In one of the film’s most memorable scenes, Yang dazzlingly contrasts, parallels and intertwines their first date with what is taking place in Japan between NJ and Sherry through the use of one of his trademark techniques – poetic overlapping. Like the doubt that NJ carries over entering a relationship with Sherry, Fatty still hasn’t fully recovered from his relationship with Ting-Ting’s friend Li-Li (Adrian Lin).

Ting-Ting carries a burden of guilt over her Grandmother’s coma as she collapsed while taking out the trash which is normally Ting-Ting’s job. During a particularly affecting scene, Ting-Ting opens up to her comatose Grandmother – deploring the unfair nature of life and begging her to wake up.

However, nearly every character in some way, shape or form is responsible for the Grandmother’s accident. Through his masterful direction, Yang implements chaos theory into this microcosm of everyday human life – demonstrating how even the slightest action can have consequences.

Perhaps the only truly innocent character in this yarn is the young Yang-Yang (Jonathan Chang) who has an almost uncanny ability to see life as it is. The musings of his childish mind are unwittingly deeply philosophical meanderings that reverberate at the core of the film. Yang-Yang’s epistemological questionings address the film’s themes of perspective and truth. He asks his father “Can we only know half the truth?” and later we discover he has a collection of photographs of the back of people’s heads – something that we can never usually see. His childish actions make sure that the film never gives him omniscience but rather shows that the mind of a child can view life without the trappings of egocentricity.

Sadly, Yi Yi was to be Edward Yang’s last film. He died in 2007 from colon cancer, at the age of 59. However, Yi Yi is perhaps the perfect last hurrah that shows a master still at the height of his powers. His stylistic techniques (such as his unparalleled use of reflections) imbue the cinematography of the film with a lyrical beauty that is reflected in the epic saga he depicts. Bookended by a wedding and a funeral, Yi Yi is a work of intense humanism – a eulogy to life itself, no matter how ordinary.

The Night of the Hunter

11 Feb

In 1955, renowned thespian Charles Laughton’s first foray into directing was met with a decidedly chilly reception from both critics and audience. Laughton poured his heart and soul into The Night of the Hunter and was understandably heartbroken at it’s non-success and never directed another film. However, many years after Laughton’s death in 1962, The Night of the Hunter was re-evaluated and is now deservedly considered one of the greatest American movies ever made.

Adapted by James Agee and Charles Laughton from a novel by Davis Grubb, The Night of the Hunter features Robert Mitchum as the sinister Harry Powell, a serial killer/preacher who gets thrown in a jail cell with Ben Harper, a man who is soon to be hanged for theft and murder. When Powell is released, he enthusiastically makes his way to Ben’s widow, Willa, who he woos and subsequently marries, hoping to discover the location of the $10,000 that Ben stole. The only character immune to Powell’s charm offensive is Ben and Willa’s 10-year-old son John who is aware of the money’s location and diligently defends it.

The role of Harry Powell was originally offered to Lawrence Olivier who was too busy to take on the role but it is hard to see how he would have done any better than Mitchum who gives a performance that ranks among the most frightening ever filmed. Powell’s most apparent physical attribute is his tattooed knuckles – one hand featuring the word LOVE, the other hand featuring HATE –  a mere taster of the duality he displays throughout the film. The human form of the ‘big bad wolf’ from fairy tale lore, Powell’s occasional animalistic outbursts hint at his true lupine identity. Powell is not a werewolf in the traditional sense but his flesh is merely sheep’s clothing for the true demonic presence inside.

The fairy tale themes that pervade the film are accompanied by a very unique aesthetic which mixes together German expressionism and American film noir to create a surrealistic, dream-like atmosphere. This comes to a peak when John and his younger sister Pearl flee down the river at night to escape from the clutches of Powell. The river, lit only by the moon and the stars, is quite noticeably artificial but this only lends to its phantasmagoric properties and it’s haunting, almost transcendental power. Oddly enough, the scene is evocative of Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs with numerous species of animals appearing along the riverbank that don’t interact with the children but nevertheless give off a protective vibe. The scene shows that the two innocent children are at one with nature in a kind of Edenic harmony – protected by the very deity that Reverend Powell purports to serve.

Charles Laughton described The Night of the Hunter as a “nightmarish sort of Mother Goose tale” and starring as the elderly Rachel Cooper, the Mother Goose he was referring to, is none other than silent film star Lilian Gish. Laughton wanted the film to have the feel of silent cinema and whilst preparing for the film he watched many of the works of D.W. Griffith – the father of American cinema. Gish herself was the lead in several of Griffith’s films and by casting her Laughton had a living, breathing connection to the era that he wanted to capture. Cooper adopts John and Pearl as her own children when she picks them up from the riverbank and proceeds to protect them from Powell when he finally tracks them down.

At its core, The Night of the Hunter is a traditional tale of good versus evil albeit one depicted in an adroit, subtle manner. The battle between the forces of good (Miss Cooper) and evil (Harry Powell) is spine-chillingly tense, played out through an eerie duet of Leaning on the Everlasting Arms. The religious connotations of the hymn makes the battle seem like two opposing forces are wrestling for God’s strength but the juxtaposing of Cooper and Powell has the effect of making the scene appear like a criticism of religion. The characters are equally devoted to their faith but their beliefs materialise in very different ways – Laughton’s way of communicating that religion is as much of a source of evil as it is a source of good.


Touch of Evil

10 Feb

Today, Orson Welles is regarded as the Shakespeare of cinema, topping both the critics and directors top ten directors lists in a Sight & Sound poll conducted in 2002. However, Welles’ career was far from rosy and the only one of the five films he directed in Hollywood where he had creative control over the final cut is, perhaps not coincidentally the “official greatest film of all time”, Citizen Kane. Of the others, by far the best is Touch of Evil, one of the last and greatest examples of film noir, starring Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh and Welles himself.

Welles was originally slated to only star in the film but due to a miscommunication with Heston, Universal scrambled to sign him up as the director as well. Welles was eager to work in Hollywood again after spending some time in Europe, despite the fact that the studio system had resulted in the bastardisation of much of his work, most famously The Magnificent Ambersons which was cut down from 148 minutes in length to the mere 88 minutes that survive today. Nevertheless, Welles had high regard for Hollywood, praising the American technical arsenal as “a grandiose thing” but once again on Touch of Evil, the studio altered Welles’ work without his permission. Thankfully, the cut footage wasn’t lost like it was on Ambersons and in 1998 his vision was restored with the help of a detailed 58-page memo.

The film opens with terrifically suspenseful scene where we see a mysterious individual place a bomb in a car. A couple enter the car and Welles almost suspends time by utilising a crane shot that tracks the car across the city – occasionally losing it before yet again picking it up. As the scene goes on the tension builds as we expect an explosion that seemingly will never happen, maybe the bomb was a dud? Until, finally, boom. So the scene is set for a typical detective story, where a good, honest cop tries to track down the shadowy killer? Almost. However, Touch of Evil turns out to be much more than that.

The film is primarily a bitter, captivating psychological war between Vargas (Heston), a Mexican drug enforcement officers who involves himself in the case and Hank Quinlan, a long-serving American police Captain with a very impressive record. Quinlan is more than xenophobic, his racism frequently bubbling to the surface of his monstrous physique which represents his personality just as much as his hateful words. Welles always was a master of lighting and in Touch of Evil the cinematography conveys Quinlan’s abhorrent views by utilising high contrast imagery and displaying the Mexican cast in typically much darker lighting than their American counterparts. Vargas suspects that Quinlan plants evidence in order to convict his suspects, in retaliation the power-abusing Quinlan attempts to frame Vargas and his wife for crimes they didn’t commit. Quinlan has become the embodiment of the ‘corrupt Mexican’ stereotype that he so despises, adding an element of irony to the film’s racial subtext.

Welles depicts Quinlan with a detestability that matches Harry Lime, a character Welles iconically played in Carol Reed’s The Third Man but Quinlan is an altogether more human character, despite his more obscene physical attributes. Unlike Lime, Quinlan is a sympathetic character – a monster created by circumstance rather than the pursuit of wealth – his wife was murdered years earlier by a “half-breed” whom Quinlan was unable to convict due to lack of evidence.

Touch of Evil is perhaps the greatest example of Welles’ unparalleled talent for cinema –  besides directing and starring in the picture he also wrote the screenplay just from the basic premise of the “very bad” script that was originally given to him. In actual fact, the film is based on the novel Badge of Evil written by Whit Masterson that Welles would later claim he never even read until after he directed the film. Whether or not the claim is true, the film is an outstanding work – a dark, atmospheric noir masterpiece that displays Welles’ artistic innovation just as much as the earlier Citizen Kane and reminded Hollywood of his brilliance. However, as is always the case, Hollywood didn’t quite like art as much as it liked money and Welles would never direct there again. In the film, a fortune teller tells Quinlan that his future “is all used up”. Now, the prophecy has more poignancy.

The Cremator

15 Jan

One of, if not the best film to come out of the short lived period of artistic freedom that accompanied the Prague Spring is Juraj Herz’s The Cremator. Unfairly sidelined when discussing the work of the Czechoslovak New Wave, Herz’s dizzying film is a truly impressive work that combines the black comedy and psychological horror genres to dazzling effect. The film follows the titular cremator, Karl Kopfrkingl (Rudolf Hrušínský) who is fanatical with regards to his work and descends into madness as he is courted by the invading Nazi party. The allegorical nature of the film’s totalitarian force was not lost to the Soviet authorities who banned it shortly after its release.

The film’s memorable visuals succeed in disorientating the viewer into an almost hypnotised state. The amount of varying styles that Herz and cinematographer Stanislav Milota manage to blend together into a single package without the style becoming distracting is a feat unto itself. The Cremator features surrealistic elements that likely originate from Herz’s puppetry background and that of his friend Jan Švankmajer (Alice); expressionistic mise-en-scène that harks back to another film that features a madman – Robert Wiene’s silent masterpiece The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari; extreme close-ups in the vein of Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc; deep focus shots that resemble Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane and even some Hitchcockian scene transitions. However, perhaps most frighteningly of all, is the film’s terrifying use of the first-person perspective to not just disorientate you by putting you in close proximity with a deranged madman but implanting you into his mind itself.

The film’s horrifying nature is further amplified by the haunting, chilling soundtrack that accompanies it, courtesy of composer Zdeněk Liška but even more important is the man who plays the madman – Rudolf Hrušínský who plays Karl in the manner of a creepier, slimier and all together scarier Peter Lorre (M). Quoting from the Tibetan Book of the Dead, he is obsessed by his duties to the point where he believes he is liberating souls by setting them free to pursue reincarnation. With Karl, Herz perhaps goes deeper than anyone else in cinema in exploring the human origins of the Holocaust, the necessary living mechanisms that would assist the Final Solution in being realised – the atrocities that Herz, himself a Holocaust survivor, experienced first hand.

The parallels with reality – historical or present – that The Cremator carries make it one of the most terrifying films in the entire horror genre. The plot is a journey that travels from dark humour characteristic of Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb to surreal psychological horror that featured a few years earlier in Roman Polanski’s Repulsion and could later be found in the work of David Lynch. Herz’s masterpiece is an altogether more frightening document on the loss of humanity that accompanies times of war and tumult.

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