1 THE DEATH OF MR. LAZARESCU (CRISTI PUIU) Olfactory cinemaone can verily smell the film’s sodden protagonistand a miracle of observational empathy. In our diminished culture, the title probably qualifies as a spoiler, but the inevitability of Mr. Lazarescu’s demise does nothing to lessen the surprise of his squalid Dantean odyssey toward death.
2 THREE TIMES (HOU HSIAO-HSIEN) Conscious summa or inadvertent sampler of Hou’s career, his triptych of love stories opens rapturously and ends attenuated; no one in contemporary cinema comes closer to Vermeer’s interiors with his pellucid lighting and composed domestic space.
3 THE SUN (ALEXANDER SOKUROV) The Russian director’s “Men of Power” trilogy concludes with a hushed, troubling portrait of Hirohitoa Götterdämmerung made literal by spectral lighting and fungal color. Issei Ogata’s scarily endearing rendition of
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