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The Deuce Recap Season 1, Episode 3, “The Principle Is All”

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The Deuce Recap: Season 1, Episode 3, “The Principle Is All”

Paul Schiraldi

The Deuce Recap: Season 1, Episode 3, “The Principle Is All”

The Baltimore Sun reporters from The Wire described their city as “Dickensian,” a comparison that stuck as a critical shorthand and pervasive cocktail-party quip about the HBO series itself. The Deuce seems intent on recycling the parallel: In “The Principle Is All,” Darlene (Dominique Fishback) reads A Tale of Two Cities, curious to acquaint herself with the source material of the 1935 Jack Conway film adaptation that moved her to tears in “Pilot.”

The Deuce Recap Season 1, Episode 2, “Show and Prove”

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The Deuce Recap: Season 1, Episode 2, “Show and Prove”

Paul Schiraldi

The Deuce Recap: Season 1, Episode 2, “Show and Prove”

Officer Chris Alston (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.) issues the titular ultimatum of “Show and Prove,” the second episode of The Deuce, to hookers during a farcical street raid: Show a property voucher proving your residence or spend the night in a holding tank. Alston is nonchalant as he demands paperwork allowing him to plausibly overlook the block’s rampant prostitution, and arrest only hookers who don’t pretend to be merely half-nude loiterers. Like paper bags concealing liquor bottles, the vouchers provide a shroud of willful ignorance for the cops who tolerate squalor but not brazenness.

The Deuce Recap Season 1, Episode 1, “Pilot”

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The Deuce Recap: Season 1, Episode 1, “Pilot”

Paul Schiraldi

The Deuce Recap: Season 1, Episode 1, “Pilot”

Fans of David Simon’s The Wire won’t be surprised that the pilot episode of The Deuce lacks a singular inciting event designed to ensure audience retention. In the place of narrative hooks, the episode thoroughly maps the ecosystem of vice that was 1970s New York City, and beckons us to explore a ruinous Times Square alongside a sprawling cast of vibrant characters.

Tribeca Film Festival 2016 The Fixer

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Tribeca Film Festival 2016: The Fixer

Adam Newport-Berra

Tribeca Film Festival 2016: The Fixer

Ian Olds’s 2009 documentary Fixer: The Taking of Ajmal Naqshbandi took the tragic death of the title figure to shine a valuable light on “fixers” like him: locals hired by foreign journalists to not only act as a translator for them, but help them gain access to interview subjects and gather information for news stories. Now, with his debut fiction feature The Fixer, Olds tries to imagine what life might be like for a fixer who actually got out of a war-torn area and relocated to the United States—and through the mystery narrative he devises, he draws some rather complicated conclusions.

Berlinale 2016 Goat

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Berlinale 2016: Goat

Killer Films

Berlinale 2016: Goat

In the opening shot from Goat, a mob of delectably smooth male torsos can be glimpsed jumping up and down in slow motion, bonding against the camera. These young white males scream at the lens, as if intimidating and courting the audience at the same time. Together they form a kind of trompe l’oeil, the singularity of each person lost for the sake of the group. Are they brothers or soldiers? Are they twins or doubles? Are they in a battlefield or in an orgy? Their cinematic hazing is our invitation to an unabashed look at the dynamic of the fraternity—that bizarre, if not pathetic, enterprise of a decidedly American hetero-masculinity that makes Europeans laugh. And they certainly did at Berlinale’s press screening.

Toronto International Film Festival 2015 The Witch and Every Thing Will Be Fine

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Toronto International Film Festival 2015: The Witch and Every Thing Will Be Fine

A24

Toronto International Film Festival 2015: The Witch and Every Thing Will Be Fine

That Robert Eggers’s Sundance hit The Witch is slotted in Special Presentations rather than Midnight Madness is a testament to the film’s ambition. Sidestepping the crowd-pleasing, antic energy common to the selections featured in the latter program at the Toronto International Film Festival, Eggers’s film is altogether stranger and more challenging to conventional genre tastes. Set among a family of Puritan exiles in the wilderness of unmolested New England as strange and ominous forces beset them, The Witch often looks more like historical realism than horror.

Deepening that sense of verisimilitude, Eggers draws much of the dialogue from 17th-century documents, though this has the tendency to make the characters sound more as if they’re reciting diary entries at one another than conversing. Thankfully, the dialogue counts for little in the film, which instead devotes most of its energy to maintaining a constant sense of dread in the dense thickets of woods that surround the family. The sound design is exceptional: brittle wind rustling through stripped branches connotes the terror of the family’s complete isolation, the fright only exceeded by the soft but unmistakable crunch of dead leaves and twigs that signals an intruder.

Berlinale 2015 Queen of the Desert and Queen of Earth

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Berlinale 2015: Queen of the Desert and Queen of Earth
Berlinale 2015: Queen of the Desert and Queen of Earth

Theoretically, the subject of Queen of the Desert could hardly be more Herzogian in nature. With her passionate spirit of ceaseless adventure, Gertrude Bell—a British writer/archeologist/map-maker who, among her many achievements, played a major role in British imperialist foreign policy—would seem to be a kindred spirit to a director like Werner Herzog, who in both his fiction and nonfiction features exudes a willingness to follow even the nuttiest of protagonists to the ends of the earth and their outer psychological limits. This is, after all, a filmmaker who, during the making of his 1982 epic Fitzcarraldo, famously followed the path of his opera-loving protagonist, created an actual massive boat, and had people lug it over a real mountain in Peru.