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The Watermelon Woman (1996) Directed by Cheryl Dunye Throughout her first several short pieces in the early 1990s, Dunye created an endearing character: Herself. The auteur-star’s “Cheryl” is a shy, awkward, oft-lovelorn young filmmaker in Philadelphia that seeks to understand her black and lesbian identities better both for her own sake and for the sake of others around her. Cheryl begins Dunye’s debut feature with a direct-camera address in which she mentions the lack of media...
Spawn of the North (1938) Directed by Henry Hathaway “Lightly Likeable,” that’s the category American critic Andrew Sarris filed Hathaway under in his influential book The American Cinema. In Sarris’s eyes, Hathaway wasn’t a “pantheon” auteur, but a journeyman with a few good titles to his name. Like with William Wellman a few years ago, critics are now appraising and reappraising Hathaway’s cinema, such as this Bertrand Tavernier-approved NYFF retrospective dedicated to him. Spawn of the North is a...
Whether it’s the passionate tango in Wong Kar-wai’s Happy Together, the wild pageantry-atop-RV in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, the iconic canyon dive of Ridley Scott’s Thelma and Louise, the narcotic intoxication of Lisa Cholodenko’s High Art, or the sweet melancholy of River Phoenix pining in Gus Van Sant’s My Own Private Idaho, what it meant to be queer in the 90s, in film, has a picture for each viewer....
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...

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