ReelPolitik

In Defense of "Compliance," Sundance's Most Divisive Movie

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • January 25, 2012 8:19 PM
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  • 8 Comments
I can't get Craig Zobel's "Compliance" out of my head. Like a migraine that won't go away, this nasty enervating movie is really sticking. It's the only movie I saw at Sundance that has compelled me to write about it. I don't have an assignment to review it; I just need to exorcise it from my mind. And while it might be an unpleasant experience, it's a testament to the power of this little, low-budget claustrophobic nightmare of a movie. After it ended, I actually let out an audible "oomph" noise as if someone had just hit me in the gut.

The Best Film of the Year that Critics Forgot

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • December 13, 2011 12:56 PM
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  • 2 Comments
My favorite movie released in 2011 has been conspicuously absent from film critics' year-end best lists. Maybe it's because the film premiered more than over a year ago at the 2010 Cannes festival, but its highly affective, penetrating account of marriage, parenting, and infidelity is still resonating with me long after I first saw it in May of last year. Forget "The Artist," "Tree of Life," "The Descendants," or "Hugo," the best movie of the year is Romanian filmmaker Radu Muntean's "Tuesday, After Christmas."

The Political Relevance of "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy"

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • December 5, 2011 9:16 PM
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  • 1 Comment
What does Tomas Alfredson's bleak, engrossing new adaptation of John Le Carre's 1970s Cold War classic "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" have to say about our own current political landscape? Thankfully, the answer is not an obvious one. Unlike such political films as George Clooney's "Ides of March" or "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," for that matter, "Tinker Tailor" tells a tale of loyalty and betrayal that's actually less about double agents or subversive insurgents than corruption, conformity and disillusionment, making for a less direct and more artful political parable for our fucked-up times.

Corrupt Cops, "Rampart" and the Crisis of Masculinity

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • November 22, 2011 1:53 PM
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  • 0 Comments
One of my favorite films from this year's Toronto International Film Festival, "Rampart," which has an Oscar-qualifying one-week run starting this Friday in theaters, is a deeply fascinating portrait of masculinity in crisis, and as I argued after Toronto, shares with "Shame" -- another favorite -- a depiction of a man descending into personal hell, swallowed up by his very own testosterone. And though it's about the Rampart scandals of years ago, its vivid depiction of corruption and the excesses of law enforcement should prove greater resonance in these tumultuous days of pepper-sprays and baton beatings.

Herzog's Death Penalty Doc "Into the Abyss" Gets Rave Reviews

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • November 10, 2011 7:56 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Much has already been written about "Into the Abyss," Werner Herzog's humanistic gaze into the dark heart of capital punishment in a Texas town. But let me join in the chorus of effusive praise.

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