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Even at his most thematically reductive, Ulrich Seidl exhibits one of the richest pictorial sensibilities in contemporary movies. In this second film (2012) of his "Paradise" trilogy, his subject is a fanatical Catholic woman (Seidl regular Maria Hofstätter, throwing herself into the part) who imposes her beliefs on everyone she encounters, going so far as to show up at strangers’ homes offering unwanted moral council. There’s nothing remotely subtle about this religious caricature—she's practically introduced flagellating herself naked in front of a crucifix—yet Seidl seems interested not in shock value but in something more ambiguous and rarefied. Working with master cinematographers Wolfgang Thaler and Ed Lachman, he evokes Renaissance-era painting through near-symmetrical compositions and carefully modulated lighting; the images are too beautiful to register as merely ironic. In German with subtitles.


See our full review: Year in review: 2013 at the movies

Year in review: 2013 at the movies

J.R. Jones and Ben Sachs each pick their top ten. »

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