agamboi has written 24 reviews for films rated ★★★★★ during 2019.

  • Uncut Gems

    Uncut Gems


    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    An old Freudian dictum holds that all neuroses are the sex drive directed at the wrong object. Obsessed with success? Can't stop thinking about politics? Have an addiction to gambling? Sex, sex, and sex. Robert California of The Office put it simply: "There is only sex. Everything is sex. Do you understand that what I'm telling you is a universal truth?"

    Uncut Gems begins with a glaring Freudian comparison: the Ethiopian Opal, via the nice visual effects presumably attributable to…

  • Parasite



    My friend told me this movie was "about people who fold pizza boxes." And you know what? He's not wrong.

    Best of the year. Absolutely psycho in every way and piercing in its social commentary. Parasite is one of those movies with a fantastic, 100% A+ plot, and yet the plot still isn't even the most important or best part. I was totally enthralled by the storyline and its thrills but also by the class conflict and analysis. (They blur…

  • Lean on Pete

    Lean on Pete


    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    Christological film analysis, on a number of levels, does not work. First, when the director does not intend to make a film about Christ, we import excess meaning into their work and skew their intention, skewing also the fit they intended between their content and form. The piece of art as art falls apart when we make Christ the true object, because that imposition jars its form. Second, Jesus of Nazareth is a historical person and not an ahistorical force…

  • Come and See

    Come and See


    Criterion Channel Summer Hotlist (4 of 52).

    Enough pure terror to scar you for a long, long time. Come and See is as bleak as bleak gets and doesn't lighten for one second. The raw, unflinching visuals are enough to make you a pacifist. If you spend most of the movie thinking, "Who tf thinks of this?" just wait until the text-card at the end, when you are now forced to acknowledge, "Wait, it was all real? This really happened???"…

  • We the Animals

    We the Animals



    Better impressionism than Malick, better coming of age than Boyhood, stronger emotional impact than Moonlight, more meaningful suspense than Tarantino, higher, greater, clearer, weightier, smoother, everything. We the Animals is superlative in every way to all eight Best Picture nominees, that’s for fucking sure, if not all films but a handful from last year.

    I was stunned at every artistic decision. The quiet poetry in this film — the screenplay rhymed with itself — was most…

  • No Country for Old Men

    No Country for Old Men


    And in the dream I knew that he was goin' on ahead and that he was fixin' to make a fire somewhere out there in all that dark and all that cold, and I knew that whenever I got there he would be there. Out there up ahead.

    McCarthy's novel No Country for Old Men works on two levels. The central plot features a cat-and-mouse-game between an everyman welder who found some money, and an evil hitman bent on "keeping…

  • Light from Light

    Light from Light


    Chicago Critics Film Festival 2019

    Marin Ireland and Jim Gaffigan give lead performances marked by restrained grief and pained false optimism. The emotional complexity in Light from Light supplements an extremely simple plotline — very little happens in this film, and that's okay. Light from Light was pushing all my cinematic buttons at once: lingering gaze, minimal action, natural imagery for its own sake, teens who need help but reject the advice of adult figures who try to help them,…

  • Monos



    Chicago Critics Film Festival 2019

    A masterpiece. I was so awestruck that I need to see it again to write a comprehensible review. The bold cinematography choices and talented young actors were both outlandishly good. I have few words for Monos or I'll spoil the glory of the film. Wow.

  • Alien



    Chicago Critics Film Festival 2019

    Special 40th Anniversary screening, with Tom Skerritt in attendance!

    Gee wiz this might be the best film I have ever seen. The tension is palpable. Besides Inglorious Basterds this is the most successfully suspenseful film I’ve seen. The narrative is tight. The female hero probably meant more in 1979 than in the age of Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel, but even still, feels powerful. The camera work, the lighting, the claustrophobia-inducing set, the acting, honestly all of it. My only regret is seeing Prometheus (the prequel to Alien) before seeing Alien itself.

  • Burning



    The best film of 2018.

    Understated severity and ambiguous intensity — searing melancholy and steaming agony.

    Chang-dong wastes not one shot, even in 148-minutes. The three leads gave phenomenal performances (I'm not sure how Steven Yeun didn't get a nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Yes, Burning was not widely seen in the US, but also Yeun is known to US audiences and critics). Rich cinematography. The underlying meaning is not packed into each scene but loosely strung across them all…

  • Syndromes and a Century

    Syndromes and a Century


    A light breeze bends the willow branches in Syndromes and a Century's long, sincere opening shot.

    Apichatpong Weerasethakul ("Joe") plants his camera in one place, usually the distant end of the room. He doesn't cut to the actors' faces or pivot around the set or zoom in on the action. At times it felt like "Joe" wanted us to see the characters not from his perspective but from the hospital building's perspective. His long takes even linger over the scene's…

  • Diary of a Country Priest

    Diary of a Country Priest


    What does it matter? All is grace.