Shooting their dog protagonists in often exquisitely intimate close-ups of grizzled maws, fleshy gums, and weathered paw pads, the filmmakers foreground their curious status as semi-wild beasts that subsist both in the middle and at the margins of human society.
This feeling for that bygone world of freshwater creeks and tilled fields and as-yet-uncleared woods is one of the chief inducements recommending The Lincoln Cycle, consisting of ten two-reel episodes whose direction is credited to their star Benjamin Chapin.
By primarily defining Glass in formal, thematic, and ethical opposition to the adaptations he believes have been widely mistaken for the pinnacle of comic book form, Shyamalan here is unable to loosely interpret and interpolate the genre as he did in Unbreakable.
Clips culled from cinema and reportage flicker and transform before our eyes in a barrage of changing aspect ratios, contrast levels, and color saturation intensities; gnomic pronouncements and aphorisms (some translated, others not) boom and crackle over a detailed 7.1 sound mix.
Faced with promoting such a difficult-to-pitch property, Universal decided instead to cut its losses, keeping the movie hidden from press until its unceremonious arrival in theaters was imminent, so that now it becomes a story only on the basis of its spectacular box-office failure, a foregone conclusion.
If the identities of Jack and von Trier were previously still separable, this hellish crucible forges them together irrevocably. Whatever else one might say about von Trier, this is filmmaking imbued with terrifying clarity regarding its (self-)destructive nature.
This complex character study is centered on Esmail (Ardalan Esmaili), an Iranian in Denmark who faces deportation unless he can settle down with a Danish partner . . . Through his struggles, the film explores the performative nature of assimilation and reminds us of the steep costs of trying to forge a new life and identity in a foreign land.