Amir Soltani

Amir Soltani

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festival programmer and occasional writer

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  • Klute

    Klute

    ★★★★½

    It's almost as if this was tailor-made for my taste. If there's ever been a film that managed to visualize the sense of paranoia with just the framing of every shot better than Klute does, I haven't seen it. A psychological thriller with expert camera work—the light vs. shadows games it plays, especially when framing Jane Fonda against others, is brilliant—and inescapably eerie music with two god-level performances, all while subverting (through actual therapy!) our expectations of the "saviour complex" trope in narratives about sex workers. What more can you ask for?

  • The Battle of Algiers

    The Battle of Algiers

    ★★★★★

    The rarest gem of all: a work of political art in which form is as radical and revolutionary as the ideas in play, but feels neither academic, nor didactic. Pontecorvo's malleable construction of the film—image and sound dutifully take on the identity of the characters on screen, seamlessly oscillating between a guerrilla realism reflective of the revolutionary fervour of the Algerian resistance, or a chillingly methodical stillness reminiscent of the French army's disciplined brutality—is a stroke of genius. This is…

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  • The Postman Always Rings Twice

    The Postman Always Rings Twice

    ★★★½

    One of those films that I always think of more fondly in retrospect than I do when I’m actually watching. The peaks are so high that one forgets the truncated rhythm of the narrative and all the dull segments in between introductions of new characters and new twists, which the film does right until the very end. Lana Turner is a real marvel and there’s a lot to admire, but I remain cool on the film as a whole.

  • The Old Dark House

    The Old Dark House

    ★★★

    Even at a sweet 72 minutes, the tonal inconsistencies make some scenes feel like a drag, but this is totally worth watching for the gothic atmosphere, intricate cinematography and a dazzling young Gloria Stuart.

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  • L'Avventura

    L'Avventura

    ★★★★★

    It's no mean feat to invent a whole new cinematic language through which bourgeois ennui and emotional detachment and existential crises can be studied by purely visual means, or to convey human emotions and psyches through landscape and architecture and, very often, without words altogether. This is a film in which the sight of a decaying monument or the sound of church bells or the smallest gesture of a hand can signify a world of meaning. I used to think…

  • Cold War

    Cold War

    ★½

    It's quite a remarkable achievement to make such a beautifully photographed film at only 88 minutes feel like a real bore, but Pawlikowski does it.
    The storytelling structure —brief snapshots across the years of the progression of two lovers' romance— makes it incredibly difficult for the film to develop either of the two main characters, or for the audience to become invested in them at all. They are rough sketches, drawn in very grand cinematic images, but their feelings and…