Joshua Marston's Complete Unknown begins in a disjointed manner, exhibiting a montage of images that portray a young woman's frantic lifestyle, one that seems to consist of a character who is constantly on the run. This introduction is enigmatic and mysterious, providing very little substance in its documentation of this woman we have just been introduced too, only subtly expressing that this character may be running from someone or something. From there the film finds itself in New York City, where we are introduced to Tom, an individual who is in a current state of emotional crisis, contemplating a move to California with his wife who has just been accepted into graduate school. When Tom's co-worker arrives at his birthday party with an intriguing date, Alice, the same woman which appears to be documented in the opening montage of the film, Tom in convinced he knows her. While Alice refuses to acknowledge their past at first, it becomes clear as the night goes on that Tom and Alice do have a shared past, setting off a night of personal discovery and self-reinvention. Joshua Marston's Complete Unknown is a character piece through and through, a film that relies heavily on the performances of its two lead actors in Michael Shannon and Rachel Weitz to tell its story of souls adrift. Taking place almost entirely over the course of a single night, Complete Unknown is a story about the frustrations and complexities of re-invention, exhibiting how two individuals shared past have led them down completely different paths. Through this shared night, Complete Unknown reveals how Alice is a character who often changes her personal identities, constantly attempting to frame her life the way she wants, unable to grasp that she is merely running from her own identity. Tom on the other-hand feels stuck in the perpetual, stagnant nature of his desk job, with his wife's new acceptance into the graduate program adding a new level of stress to his life, one in which he struggles to accept due to the vast changes it will have on his life. While Tom's way of dealing with his issues is through suppression, Alice's is through expression, with the two individuals' different approaches almost serving as a therapeutic cocktail over the course of the night, with old feelings and emotions helping both characters deal with their underlying insecurities. Enigmatic at first, Complete Unknown is a film that leaves Alice and Tom's shared past as somewhat ambiguous, exhibiting how they were ex-lovers but never going into the intricate details of what when wrong. Due to this decision, Complete Unknown is able to touch on some universally human emotions of longing, insecurity, and personal discovery, expressing the feelings of adrift many individuals feel in life, with all of us as humans simply trying to find what makes us happy in the time we do have on this planet. Emotional or professional stagnation is a major component of this shape-shifting story of past colliding with present, as Joshua Marston's Complete Unknown delivers an intricate, emotional study of the insecurities and thrills of personal growth and the importance of personal identity.
With the recent passing of Gene Wilder, it was time to revisit Mel Brooks' seminal comedy, Blazing Saddles, a film that was far ahead of its time not only due to its clever deconstruction of the beloved western genre, but also its biting, subversive comedy centered around racism. Satirizing the blatant racism and ugliness that was completely obscured by Hollywood's myth-making tales of the American West, Blazing Saddles tells the story of a sophisticated and charming black urbanite in Bart, who finds himself appointed Sherriff in the small Western town of Red Rock. Hedley Lemar, a corrupt businessman who intends on building a railroad through the town is behind Bart's designation as Sheriff, knowing that Bart's skin color will only be met with vitrol by the white townsfolk, inevitable ruining the small town and giving him the ability to build his railroad. Much to his chagrin, Hedley Lemar's diabolical plan doesn't exactly go as planned though, with Bart's charm and patience being underestimated by this nasty individual. Forming a partnership of sorts with the Waco Kid, a recovering alcoholic gunslinger, Bart becomes Hedley Lemar's most formidable adversary as he slowly overcomes the blatant racism of the town, becoming beloved due to his actions as Sheriff. Full of a host of gags and an overall sense of satire that Mel Brooks has become known form, Blazing Saddles is a witty, clever deconstruction of the Western genre, being a film that shows little restraint in its biting, comedic style. The film is confrontational about the ugliness of racism, presenting it in an abrasive yet hysterical way which truly peels back and reveals the utter absurdity of judging an individual by the color of their skin and not their actions. Blazing Saddles is a great example of the importance of comedy when it comes to tackling the uglier traits of humanity, showing how laughter and satire can expose the absurdity of such ugliness, bringing it into the consciousness of those who are always reluctant to discuss it. Bart as a character faces extremely ugly preconceived notions about himself due to the color of his skin, yet as the film progresses, nearly every character in the town, including two people sent by Hedley Lemar to kill him, become infatuated by Bart's charm, cool-demeanor, and the sense of protection he provides. It's through Bart's actions that the townsfolk becomes to love him, eventually throwing away their preconceived notions about Bart and embracing him as one of their own. While Mel Brooks' Blazing Saddles is an outlandish satirical comedy first, a film that offers a heavy slate of satire and self awareness about Hollywood, the thing that stands out the most about Blazing Saddles is its ability to be more than a straight-forward parody-style comedy, offering up a biting, yet important examination of the absurdity of racism through its outlandish comedic tone.
A relentless horror film that lives up to its title, Fede Alvarez's Don't Breathe is an intense, gripping genre exercise which makes the best of its "trapped in a psychopath's home" story structure, delivering a highly enjoyable horror experience that delivers on both brooding atmosphere and subversive storytelling. Don't Breathe is centered around Rocky, a young woman living in a decaying area of Detroit, who wants nothing more than to start a better life for her and her sister in California. With the help of her friend Alex, who secretly harbors feelings for her, and Money, Rocky's simple-minded boyfriend, the group decides to rob the house of a blind man, an ex-military man who lives in a home that is utterly secluded, alone in a crumbling suburb of Detroit. Expecting a rather simple cash grab, the group soon finds they are in for a fight for their lives, when the blind man living in the home turns out to be a deeply deranged man whose life of seclusion and sorrow, due to the death of his daughter, has left him in a state of angst and potential vengeance. From the very outset of Don't Breathe it's clear that the film is intent on creating a chilling, expressionistic experience, with Fede Alvarez injecting the film with a foreboding cinematic style full of creeping camera movements and eerie sound design. Featuring a simple, straight-forward narrative that does provide a few subversive twists that I won't detail here, Don't Breathe is a rewarding genre exercise due to Alvarez's command of atmosphere and pacing. Much like Mike Flanagan's Hush early this year, Don't Breathe takes advantage of its unique attribute, the deaf antagonist, delivering unique horror set-pieces, thrills, and chills, with sound design and observational camera work creating a very intense, gripping experience that left me holding my breath from start to finish. Fede Alvarez's Don't Breathe has a great sense of escalation too, with the film becoming increasingly intense, brutal, and subversive as it continues, delivering an experience that never lets up and leaves the viewer themselves breathless (pun intended) due to the sheer horror of what these character's must overcome in order to survive. The low body count in Don't Breathe may sound like a detriment to some of the more blood-thirsty fans of the horror genre, but what Don't Breathe lacks in overall body count, it more than makes up in brutality and subversive concepts, delivering a horror film in which life feels precious and the extermination of it feels deeply felt. A film that understands the importance of mood and atmosphere first, Fede Alvarez's Don't Breathe is a brutal, intense, and relentless genre exercise that is sure to leave most viewers at the edge of their seats from start to finish.
Billy O'Brien's I Am Not A Serial Killer is a subversive genre exercise, a singular vision that is often enthralling but borderline preposterous in its deconstruction of sociopathic ideology. Taking place in a small Midwestern town, the story is centered around John, a troubled teenager who has little empathy for anyone around him. Showing signs of a sociopath with homicidal tendencies, John has been forced by his mother, who works as an embalmer, to see a psychiatrist, but she still worries daily about her son's overall lack of empathy and general cold demeanor around death. When a series of grizzly murders begin to plague the small town, John's curiosity leads him to discover that one of his neighbors, Crowley, an old quiet man, may be responsible, something which strokes a curiosity in John, who must wrestle with his own inner-demon as he attempts to bring Crowley to justice. Billy O'Brien's I Am Not A Serial Killer is a singular genre film that is endlessly intriguing, a story that taps into some interesting ideas about normalcy, death, and empathy, but unfortunately succumbs to borderline silliness. Very much a character study during most of its running time, I am Not A Serial Killer paints a portrait of a character in John who has fallen down this path due to a variety of factors, ranging from time spent around death at the embalment facility and family dysfunction, to childhood neglect from a father he never sees. The film doesn't make excuses for John's strange behavior but it does document the environmental factors with at least in part define him, with the most intelligent examination of the film being its deconstruction surrounding the fallacies of normalcy. John is a social outcast, a character who is misunderstood by nearly everyone around him, with his psychiatrist being the only character who is receptive to a conversation about how John sees the world. Through this relationship between John and his psychiatrist, who views John as a sociopath but not a bad person, I Am A Serial Killer exposes an important distinction about cultural predictors and normalcy, delivering an important reminder that societal-based predictors of behavior are important yet dangerous, as it's important that we as individuals never define an individual with broad strokes, no matter the similarities to past evil. John is a cold, somewhat frightening character who is entranced by death and humanity's fear of it, a character who lacks empathy, yet there remains a a huge distinction between him, and Crowley, whose murderous ways completely lack any type of respect for human life. Considering the main character of I Am A Serial Killer is a sociopath, the film is a subversive treat by nature, but unfortunately the film comes a bit off the rails in the back-half when it reveals Crowley to be somewhat of a supernatural manifestation of evil. Apologists will point to perhaps this supernatural element of the film as merely a psychological manifestation of John, but this is dishonest when considering the fact that his own mother witnesses this supernatural evil herself. Featuring a memorable performance by Christopher Lloyd as Crowley, While I Am A Serial Killer left me intrigued and engaged from start to finish, but unfortunately its overly didactic approach at times, and silly supernatural elements left me somewhat disappointed in the end, especially considering the film's early strength's as a character study about the psychology of a sociopath.
Taking place on a coffee plantation which sits at the foot of an active volcano in Guatemala, Jayro Bustamante's Ixcanul offers up a window into a culture very different than our own, exhibiting a near anthropological study of this lifestyle as it touches on universal truths about rebellion, oppression, and the consequences that lie in-between. The story is centered around Maria, a seventeen-year old girl, who awaits to married to the farm's foreman, Ignacio, an arranged marriage formed by their parents. Knowing nothing about the world outside of her own limited experiences, Maria herself becomes intoxicated by the sense of the unknown which sits on the other side of the Volcano, a curiosity which is only reinforced by a local boy Pepe, who has grown tired of the traditions and customs of this Mayan culture. Pepe speaks of going away to America, a concept which Maria begins to romanticize about herself, naively viewing Pepe as the source of escape from the oppressive nature of the world which surrounds her. While it is not apparent at first, it becomes clear that Pepe has little empathy for Maria, seducing her to fulfill not only his carnal desires but help expedite his plans for venturing to America. When Pepe leaves her behind, Maria is forced to reconsider the world and culture in which she inhabits, now dealing with the consequences of deception due to being pregnant with Pepe's child. Observational, tragic, and understated in approach, Jayro Bustamante's Ixcanul is a film that transports the viewer into a world unlike our own, using it to tell a very powerful and universal story about the cold realities of the world in which we inhabit, one in which our actions always have confidence. One of the more unique films I've seen about the intellectual awakening that takes place in adolescence, Ixcanul is a film that takes its time to unfold, with much of the film's first half being a observational study of the life which Maria leads, documenting the culture and traditions which shape her experiences and help explain her curiosities about what lies outside of the world in which she knows. With her arranged marriage being finalized, Ixcanul exhibits how Maria is at a time in her life where she is being indoctrinated into this culture, a step which effectively strips her of her youthful curiosities, which in turn reinforces her decisions to lash out against this oppressive custom. With this in mind, it's important to understand that Jayro Bustamante's film shows very little judgment about this culture, only showing an interest in exhibiting the universal truths that exist in any society or way of life when it comes to youthful rebellion, self-discovery, and the consequences of life which rest around every turn. From a visual design perspective, Ixcanul is meditative, simple, yet striking, featuring mostly static compositions that evoke a calming presence and a sense of connection with nature. The volcano itself lurks in the background throughout Ixcanul, with this massive piece of rock serving as an almost symbolic representation of Maria's feelings of entrapment/oppression early on. The idyllic visual design, the wide spacing and calming presence are completely abandoned later in the film, when Maria and her parents find themselves frantically in the city, as the filmmaker's visual design brilliantly shifts to more constraining compositions, even offering up handheld photography which evokes the frantic nature of the big city and the mental state of these characters. Jayro Bustamante's Ixcanul is a powerful and tragic study of rebellion and consequences, a film that works so well due to its observant lens and tactful design that never throws judgement on these characters or this culture but simply wishes to tackle the universal truths that exist in all of humanity.
Keith Maitland's Tower is a chilling examination of the events which took place in 1966, when Charles Whitman carried out a massacre from the clock tower at the University of Texas at Austin, killing 16 individuals while leaving over 30 other people seriously injured. A unique, visual experience, Keith Maitland's documentary blends archival footage, animation, and first person interviews of the individuals who were there, delivering a truly compelling documentation of not not only the tragic event itself but the aftermath, exhibiting how much a dark day such as this can stay with those who experienced it. Reflective in nature, Tower is a celebration of human courage and empathy, which questions how something so tragic could happen while giving many of these individuals a voice to express their personal accounts. Outside of a heavy handed Walter Cronkite voice over near the ending, which really feels shoe-horned in and is easily the worst aspect of the film, Tower remains relatively uninterested in getting into the politics of gun violence or the overall infatuation of violence itself that American society seems to have, wisely focusing instead on the human aspects and the psychological toll these events can have on those who lived through this experience. Tower feels deeply personal due to the vast amount of first person accounts it provides, deconstructing how humanity comes together in such times of chaos while also showcasing how individuals simply respond differently when their various existence is threatened. Tower documents the brave police officers and everyday citizens who responded with courage and tenacity, but it also makes sure to document those whose primal response was based in fear and survival instinct, with one of the most startling moments being a woman who was there lamenting "at this moment I realized I was a coward". There is no judgment in this documentation, quite the opposite, with the film simply expressing the various ways in which individuals cope with such startling chaos and violence. In a sense, Tower is a film about the need for connection and empathy in humanity, with these accounts detailing how shared bravery and human empathy overcame the putrid violence of that day. Tower is in a sense a psychological study of trauma, exhibiting how such an event can stay with those involved long after the blood is spilled. Tragedy lingers, and Tower beautifully captures the psychological toll this event had on its victims, exhibiting the sense of guilt, doubt, and regrets the survivors still live with 50 years after the actually violence. Keith Maitland's Tower is a film that wisely doesn't pretend to have answers to the complicated mess that is America's perceived penchant for violence, instead the film only wishes to document those affected by such tragedy, delivering a powerful, personal, detailed documentation of that tragic day and the long lingering psychological effects which followed.
Immersive and exploratory in nature, Werner Herzog's Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World finds the iconic filmmaker set his sights on the information age, delivering a thought-provoking, existential - minded exploration of humanities evolving relationship with technology. Interviewing a host of technological pioneers and experts, scientists, and common people who have been deeply effected in both positive and negative ways by the rapid advancement of technology due primarily to the internet, Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World leaves very little stones unturned, providing a balanced study of the positives and negatives of man's relationship with technology, showing an inquisitive desire to learn while never showing an arrogance to judge. Lo and Behold is fact-based, yet speculative, with Herzog's warm, sophisticated charm showing an exuberant desire for knowledge as he narrates this existential documentary about inter-connectivity. Lo and Behold details the extreme advances in technology that have happened in a relatively short time frame thank to internet, touching on both the utter-lack of regulation but also the big brother capabilities of a system that can identity and track a tremendous volume of people. Very little accountability is intrinsic to the internet as we know it today, but the film never pretends there is an easy solution, also acknowledging the potential for a ruling class to use internet as a tool for identification and control over its populace. The film details how technological advancement can lead to overreliance, particularly in the younger generations who never lived without the internet, touching on the inherent shortfalls and strengths related to having so much information at your fingertips. What makes Lo and Behold work so well as a documentary is the film's inquisitive nature, a film that showcases various perspectives from experts that sometimes contradict one and other, effectively encapsulationg the existential nature of the information age, one in which on one knows the answer in this vary fast evolving in human existence which we find ourselves. Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World is an exploration of the current age we live in, one in which information capabilities are well beyond our wildest dreams from a mere 20-30 years ago, exploring not only the technological changes in the world as we know it, but the moral and cultural changes that have taken place in this age of information.
Taking place in 1928, Elia Kazan's Splendor in the Grass is set in oil-rich Kansas, following high school seniors Bud Stamper and Deanie Loomis, who are deeply in love. Bud is a popular kid in school, captain of the football team and son of a local oil baron, while Deanie lives much more of a quaint existence, living with her reserved parents who fears for her daughter's purity when it comes to young boy's sexual intentions. The couple is passionate but reserved, having never gone further than kissing, and while it's unspoken, the two both seem to believe they will get married to each other some day. As graduation day approaches, both Bud and Deanie begin to cave under the pressures of their parents, who have their own expectations of what their respective children should be, effectively tearing this young, loving relationship apart. Elia Kazan's Splendor in the Grass is a film that openly retorts the idea that the idealistic nature of youth is based in naivety, exhibiting how youth are often unfortunately shaped by societies preconceived notions about what individuals should be. When these young lovers are introduced their relationship is tender, passionate, and respectable, only being interested in making each other happy, even though they clearly have their differences of opinion at times. It's through the intervention of outside influence, mainly Deanie's mother and Bud's father, in which these two young individuals find themselves drifting apart, poisoned by their parents' selfish ideas about what their children should be. These parents are convinced that their tough love is essential to their children's happiness, intent on the idea that they know what is best for their children, an arrogance which in turn leads both Bud and Deanie down a much rockier road of the self discovery. Expectations of the old on the young, though well-intentioned, lead to disaster for Deanie and Bud's relationship, with Splendor in the Grass expressing the true importance of a parent giving their children some space to discover themselves, with an authoritarian presence only serving a restrictive force in the maturation process of a young adult truly discovering their own sense of individualism. How money is perceived to provide happiness is certainly another component of the film, with both Bud and Deanie's parents each overly concerned about their children's financial well-being. From Ace Stamper's insistence that his son pursue a degree at Yale, to Deanie's mother viewing Bud simply as Deanie's way out of their modest life and into that of a rice family, these parent's perspectives unintentionally have a toxic effect of their offspring. When the stock market crash occurs in the film it serves as a symbolic representation of the lack of understanding and control even the parents have over their future, with Splendor in the Grass eradicating the idea that we as human-beings, regardless of age or experience, are ever completely in control of our lives. While there is not question that Splendor in the Grass touches on some critical observations about parenting and the oppressive nature in which societies preconceived notions can have on the youth, Splendor in the Grass does feel a little cartoonish at times, most notably the treatment of Deanie's descent into near-madness after losing Bud, as well as Ace Stamper, Bud's father, being a borderline caricature as the overbearing, wealthy father who knows exactly what is best for his son. While it certainly doesn't spoil the film, I found these two particular aspects of the film overly dramatized and jarring, standing out from the rest of the film which overall feels relatively nuanced in approach. Featuring an ending full of optimism, which exhibits the importance of never focusing on the negative or living a life of regret, Elia Kazan's Splendor in the Grass is a poignant love story that touches on a lot of importance aspects of the human experience.
Reminiscent of Lawrence Kasdan's The Big Chill, Clea Duvall's directorial debut, The Intervention is witty, assured ensemble comedy/drama centered around a group of thirty-something couples reuniting at a beautiful lakefront vacation home in Savannah, Georgia. The rendezvous isn't completely for the sake of relaxation and reconnection, as there is a hidden agenda, with members of the group, led by the strong personalitied Annie, staging an intervention for Ruby and Peter, a couple who seem to be caught in a cycle of constant angst and hostility, where contradiction is merely an open way of communication between them. Intent on intervening into Ruby and Peter's damaged marriage, the group finds their idyllic vacation threatened when Ruby and Peter learn of this deception, sparking revelations about each of these characters as tensions run high, and long suppressed emotions and feelings are finally aloud to bubble to the surface. While far from original in its deconstruction of hidden feelings and underlying tension, Clea DuVall's The Intervention is a charming, well-written dramedy which relies heavily on the charm and comedic timing of its actors to deliver its witty, reflective comedy about the complicated mess that is the human psyche. The film is centered around this marriage intervention but as the narrative unfolds it becomes clear that all of these characters are dealing with their own internal struggles, with each character deflecting from their own relationship problems by focusing on the failing marriage of Ruby and Peter. in this regard, dysfunction is a major component of The Intervention's humor, being a film that manages to find the humor in what it typically reserved for more serious genre fair, as the film laughs at the utter stupidity that can arise due to lack of communication and insecurity. For the most part, the tone remains light throughout The Intervention but the film still manages to pack a surprisingly amount of poignancy in the end, as the viewer finds themselves caring for the well being of these characters and the outcome of their relationships. The care-free, comedic first act of the film, featuring a healthy amount of humor and charm, is a very important aspect of the film's overall dramatic success, with the Intervention's sharp-wit making these characters engaging right from the beginning, helping establish empathy for these characters by the viewer early on, something which pays off when the more drama-based second half takes hold. The Intervention is a film about the importance of communication and the messiness of human emotion, almost suggesting that individuals tend to help others because it's much easier than focusing on ones own shortcomings. From Annie, the overbearing character who deflects her own commitment issues via the bottle, to Jessie, a character who has long struggled with her own commitment issues with her current girlfriend, The Intervention slowly reveals how all of these characters have their own relationship problems, each of which seems to be using deflection as a way to escape from facing their own problems. The Intervention suggests that companionship and support are important social concepts but in the end it's only the individual who can make changes for themselves, with Ruby and Peter's deeply flawed marriage only going in the right direction due to Peter, and Ruby to a lesser degree, realizing their own shortcomings, as they have both fallen into a vicious cycle of resentment. Both Rudy and Peter have reached a stagnant complacency, one in which they excepted their misery and took for granted the shared relationship which they shared, a realization that only comes to fruition when the real possibility of a divorce feels imminent. Relationships are hard, communication is essential, and you don't know what you have got until it's gone, are just a few of the more interesting conversation pieces of Clear DuVall's The Intervention, a film that manages to be one of the funnier films of the year as it deconstructs some of the more universal truths about relationships and shared humanity.
A story of loyalty and betrayal which pre-dates Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather by several years, Martin Ritt's The Brotherhood is a much more contained, economically made mafia movie that focuses on the entangled, inter-workings of a Mafia operations, one in which the loyalty-based principles of family and the cold-hearted aspects of business routinely vie for supremacy. Featuring an elliptic narrative that begins and ends in Sicily, Italy, The Brotherhood is the story of two brothers in Frank and Vinny, the two sons of a powerful Mafia don who has been deceased for sometime. Recently returning from Vietnam, Vinnie arrives home in New York City wanting to to lead his own life, content on making it on his own in the business world. Marrying the daughter of a Mafia don, one that works directly in the same organization as Frank, Vinnie soon finds himself intrigued by the business of his brother and father-in-law, offering up his services as a bookkeeper for the family business. Vinnie's intentions aren't exactly clear, explaining to his wife that he simply views this job as a business proposition that offers a quicker way up the corporate ladder, but his wife remains reluctant to his decision, concerned about Vinnie's penchant for power and desire to prove himself in the family business, at all costs. The organization meets as a board to coordinate its various businesses, and when the majority becomes increasingly unhappy with Frank's decision making it puts Vinnie in a peculiar spot. Choosing to support the wishes of the majority, Vinnie goes against his brother's wishes, which only exacerbates things even more when Frank is called upon by the elder members of the Mafia to fulfill the Sicilian code of honor, one which includes him killing Vinnie's father-in-law, who is believed to be indirectly responsible for the death of 41 members of the Mafia family, including Frank and Vinnie's own father. Examining the various intricacies and powerplays which take place in the Mafioso, The Brotherhood is a film which seems to question how far one is willing to go to prove themselves in this organization, one in which the business always supersedes the desires and loyalties of the individual. Through this entangled web of family and business, deception arises, with The Brotherhood exhibiting how two brothers are consumed by this cutthroat world, one which ends up pitting brother against brother, with little recourse, due to the majority dictating the decision-making of the individual. The characterizations of Frank and Vinnie are what makes the whole film so compelling, with The Brotherhood slowly revealing how two brothers who love each other can be pulled so far apart, each of which pulled in separate directions by perceived allegiances and codes which must be adhered too. Frank's work and beliefs are much more based in tradition and code, still fondly remembering his father's processes as the head of the mafioso. Vinnie on the otherhand is more of a businessman, a character who takes sides with the other board members in ventures in which he believes will be successful, regardless of his brother's perspective on the matter. Whether it be the traditional Sicilian code, or the cold-hearted nature of a bussiness decision that goes against Frank's wishes, The Brotherhood slowly reveals how the loyalty these two brothers share for each other becomes secondary to the loyalty of the Mafia itself, creating a toxic environment which forces a tragic conclusion. Without going into details, Martin Ritt's The Brotherhood is a clever, well-made piece of filmmaking which uses the mafia world to create a powerful evocation of the conflicting nature between business and family.
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