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November 2012

An Impressionist Family Portrait

Post Tenebras Lux (2012)

56th BFI London Film Festival

Terrence Malick has a lot to answer for. Carlos Reygadas has apparently been the first — although certainly not the last — director to watch “The Tree of Life” and say, “Hey! I also have a biographical story which can make a vague point of the interconnectedness of the world we live in!”

For the first 15 minutes or so of “Post Tenebras Lux,” this is an excellent idea. A toddler makes her way through a muddy field, alone except for some cows and dogs, as night falls and an incredible thunderstorm rolls in. The little girl in her bright coat — with the sky and lightning flashes reflected in the puddles beneath her feet — is as striking as anything world cinema has seen for some time. But this astonishing opening sequence presages two things: an uncomfortable mix of fiction and reality and a disconcerting blend of image and substance.

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All's Fair in Love and Class War

Great Expectations (2012)

Johan Persson/56th BFI London Film Festival

Charles Dickens’s novel has been required reading for years, with varying levels of success. Modern 14-year-olds often struggle with the flowery Victorian language and find it difficult to see the very current emotions underneath. Many children will seize upon this movie gratefully. In that sense this new adaptation is a tremendous success. In very many other ways, this is a story that has been told before.

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Twist of Fates

Rust and Bone (2012)

Roger Arpajou/Sony Pictures Classics

Jacques Audiard knows how to inhabit the body. In his films he manages to bring us inside the bodies of his characters so that we can also feel what they are feeling. But not really their emotions — Mr. Audiard has less time for emotions than almost any other filmmaker currently working. What he is somehow able to convey is the actual physical sensation of swimming in the ocean, dancing in a nightclub or hitting someone in the head.

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