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October 26, 2022 / barton smock

( words toward Thomas M. Wright’s ‘The Stranger’ ( other films recent

Thomas M. Wright's The Stranger is a bewitchingly downbeat true crime thriller both anchored and spirited away by the eidolic performances of Joel Edgerton and Sean Harris, each of which use a resigned urgency to centralize the haunted hinterland of retroactive pursuit. Edgerton eats worry in his sleep, and Harris sees friendship as starvation. Evil here grows older by being younger than time.


Sissy, as directed by Hannah Barlow and Kane Senes, stops time long enough for its slasher sensibilities to overtake both homage and mantra with the faster sisters of fomo and isolation all while tracking the otherworldly un-mirrored performance of Aisha Dee as it duels for the same safe-space nostalgia and the right to say to everyone and to no one 'if it's not in the frame, it didn't happen yet'. Dee is exodus and revelation, and moves the end times back into the middle where belief must re-earn its brutal beginnings. Full of backhanded admittance and disappearing permissions, this movie is proudly and gloriously someone's fault.


An arrival numb to departure, Christian Tafdrup's Speak No Evil is an out-of-body duet unsung by people too close to partnership and camaraderie to see a single evil let alone name any tune not already on another's tongue. It is important that a film this alone remain within itself at length, or forever, and with performances and visuals that achieve both the hermetic and wild, it painfully and almost perfectly leaves itself an inheritance of inaction and etiquette enough to afford its callous but necessary payoff.


Anxious and dedicated, Ti West’s Pearl is a brutally loyal exploration of isolation and madness wherein genesis and exodus are unsure which started what. Mia Goth levels heaven and brings up the hell with a performance in so much local pain that what lands becomes less alien the more it invades. For all its blood and baptism, West is careful what is shown, and there is one scene so brave and so held by Goth that it unglues the eye and something in every body seems to rip on its own. Sickness is here, but has nothing on sadness.


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