Climb Down Ev'ry Mountain

Alps (2011)

Yorgos Lanthimos

A young girl practices gymnastics under the tutelage of a near-psychotic coach. Another studiously memorizes lists of light fittings. And they are part of a bizarre group whose leader assigns each member code names based on the Swiss Alps. From these mysterious beginnings, the audience is required to unpick exactly what this eccentric gang of four is up to and why. The resulting puzzle is similar in tone to director Yorgos Lanthimos’s unforgettable debut, “Dogtooth,” but this time we’re following several different characters in their respective stories and the dots are more difficult to join for a while.

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Suicide Missionary

Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai (2011)

55th BFI London Film Festival

The ticket-holder line for the Vancouver International Film Festival special screening of Takashi Miike’s 3-D “Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai” snaked around the corner of the theater even in the miserable Vancouver drizzle. But these weren’t the typical Miike fanboys. Many were middle-aged and chatted about their fond memories of Masaki Kobayashi’s 1962 masterpiece, “Harakiri.” They wondered how this remake would measure up with caution in their voices: “It’s like remaking ‘The Godfather’.” For a film rarely mentioned outside critical circles compared to other Japanese films of the era, “Harakiri” — aided by Tatsuya Nakadai’s performance — developed a devoted following among cinephiles and even casual fans of Japanese cinema.

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