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November 20, 2022 / barton smock

( words toward some recent films

By design too far and too soon, the always intensely casual documentary Bad Axe, as stopped and started by director David Siev, is somehow both uplifting and hopeless. It puts the present in yesterday and plants it in tomorrow. As for its loyalty to now and to family, it does catch the unaware collective who will wear a mask to mouth hate unrecognized but won't cover their face to keep others from getting a sickness that sizes the same world. A must see. Bring the right friend.


Beth de Araújo's Soft & Quiet is a doomscroll of hidden proximity that will tattoo insomnia on even the most thoughtfully awake. I'm not sure I can recommend it but know damn well it needs to be seen and looked away from in equal measure, and vice versa. Difficult and driven, it deserves all be present. Its one-take illusion puts its menace in so many real places that one feels followed, directly beside, winked at, and eye-level with peepholes marked for repair. As art and as document, it is too true to be based on anything, and is instead ripped into existence by an air breathed by characters who sleep beneath empty symbols and make nothing of vandalism save what's already been carved onto the surfaces of their untouched and wrongly examined lives. It's dark here, in the light, and we know these people.


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.

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