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Ghost in the Shell (1995) Directed by Mamoru Oshii Released on the same day in Japan, the United States and elsewhere, this animated film searches deep for what is common to us all: what it means to be human, to have a conscience, feelings… a soul, if you wish. These questions and philosophical musings are filtered through the non-race-specific female cyborg protagonist, who’s the muscle of a public security agency in charge of catching the hackers...
In a Lonely Place (1950) Directed by Nicholas Ray The Big Heat (1953) Directed by Fritz Lang Though he came from the upper crust himself, for the first decade of his career Humphrey Bogart most often played brutish thugs; it took The Maltese Falcon and especially Casablanca to cement his new image as a poised sophisticate and romantic lead. Like no other film, In a Lonely Place reveals those two personae to be coterminous, peeling back...
A Touch of Zen (1971) Directed by King Hu Has any action film strived for transcendence as openly as A Touch of Zen? Despite the occasional religious reference, the first half of this three-hour wuxia epic is focused mostly on establishing its characters and plot: the duplicity that forces Yang (Hsu Feng) and two of her aides to hide out in a small village, and which draws in Gu (Shi Jun), an aspiring scholar/slacker who...
Johnny Guitar (1954) Directed by Nicholas Ray Johnny Guitar may not have the pedigree of The Searchers or the easy lovability of Rio Bravo, but it’s arguably twice as compelling as any classic western because it’s internally calibrated to a completely unique rhythm. Ray turned every genre into dance, sometimes a sensual ballet, sometimes a furious tango. Johnny Guitar is his paranoid waltz, with enough partner changes and tempo changes to make your head spin; only...

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