• Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man

    Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man

    ★★★

    A buddy cop film that fails its basic premise - at no point does the script or lead performances do anything to differentiate or cause conflict between the two cops; it merely revels in the fascistic impulses and homoeroticism of them both. Deodato shoots this like a porno and it’s never clear how much he really rejects the vigilantism of the protagonists. In the absence of any real thematic clarity it’s probably the dumbest of the poliziotesschi I’ve seen so…

  • What Have They Done to Your Daughters?

    What Have They Done to Your Daughters?

    ★★★½

    Balances nasty and sophisticated on a knife (cleaver) edge, and some genuine thrills in its set pieces. Script is perfunctory but elevated by Dallamano’s direction into probably the lower part of the upper tier of these sorts of films.

  • Four of the Apocalypse

    Four of the Apocalypse

    ★★★★

    I’m not generally as enamoured with spaghetti westerns as many people are, for a couple of reasons. Mainly, I prefer the genuine article and find the adjective “revisionist” unhelpful - almost all good American Westerns are revisionist! Nor do I find the Italian sensibility particularly interesting in its expression in these movies - the genres of giallo and especially poliziotesschi end up being far more interesting and revealing wrt the socio-political anxieties of the time and place, being the fairly…

  • A.I. Artificial Intelligence

    A.I. Artificial Intelligence

    ★★★★

    If this film was made any earlier the CG would be too hokey, any later and likely too self-serious and lifelike. As it stands, the pulpy video game cutscene robot designs are perfect. Hugely bold narrative gambit in the last act. Strangely structured, lots of surprises throughout and an all time child performance. I don’t think I’ll ever really get or love Spielberg as an auteur but this is as engaged as I’ve been by a film of his.

  • The Green Ray

    The Green Ray

    ★★★★★

    Five stars in this instance signifying that I don’t understand how this film could possibly be improved upon.

  • Putney Swope

    Putney Swope

    ★★½

    A film that is way funnier in its Wikipedia plot summary than in its actual execution. But this sort of obvious and crude satire has always been anathema to me.

  • Slap the Monster on Page One

    Slap the Monster on Page One

    ★★★½

    Politically astute film with an above-average understanding of the machinations of conservative media; this provides a better analysis of contemporary reporting on antifa/BLM protests than any liberal outlet thinkpiece. The film itself doesn't have quite enough meat on its bones, however, and Volonte's presence and intelligence does a lot of the heavy lifting as the central mystery fizzles out.

  • Dune

    Dune

    ★★★½

    Really clever bit of adaptation of the by far least interesting half of the book. The Marvel/Whedon style dialogue in the first half hour was distracting but settles into a good grasp of the source material. I think a lot of these role are miscast but it looks and sounds right.

  • Pastoral: To Die in the Country

    Pastoral: To Die in the Country

    ★★★★

    Pristine print at JFF/ACMI - cool film, can’t avoid the Fellini comparison in my head but some startling choices and images made throughout.

  • Million Dollar Baby

    Million Dollar Baby

    ★★★½

    It’s all a bit too obvious and schematic, and yet

  • No Time to Die

    No Time to Die

    ★★★★

    Wish David Mitchell hadn’t spoiled this for me in his Guardian op ed. As if I needed another reason to despise UK panel show comedians

  • She Killed in Ecstasy

    She Killed in Ecstasy

    ★★★

    Slight miss for me in view of the sublime-adjacent Vampyros Lesbos. In general unfolds devoid of any mystery or tension, and the sex-death connection that Franco is so interested in is so remarkably literal here as to be uninteresting. Still impressive in stretches, and shot with a visual panache and production design unthinkable in movies today.