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  • The Big Sleep

    The Big Sleep

    ★★½

    I hadn't seen this in a long time and I'm afraid it now looks to me like one of the great missed opportunities of old Hollywood. I'm not surprised it's still remembered as a classic since everything about it seems like it should be; how could the combination of Howard Hawks, Raymond Chandler, and Bogie & Bacall (to say nothing of a slumming William Faulkner joining in on script duty) produce anything other than an all-timer? And yet the movie is…

  • The Little Shop of Horrors

    The Little Shop of Horrors

    ★★★★★

    The musical is fine but it criminally gilded the lily and erased what should by rights be a fully canonized treasure. The 72 minutes are so densely packed with bizarre comedic details it's like Corman was worried the movie might get canceled so he had to cram everything in before someone in a suit barged in to shut down production. I could be wrong but I think Jack Nicholson is doing a Peter Lorre impression here which is crazy because he played Lorre's son three years later in The Raven, another Corman production!!

  • Unfriended: Dark Web

    Unfriended: Dark Web

    ★★★½

    The bad guys in this movie really should've been sporting Pepe the Frog iconography. That should have been the big reveal at the end.

    I don't think this is the best possible hackersploitation movie, but its construction is ingenious enough to justify duplicating the screen gimmick from the first Unfriended. Hackers are scary, especially when combined with the rise of edgelord trolls. This movie does a solid job of tapping into that, though I'd like to see others try something…

  • Dragged Across Concrete

    Dragged Across Concrete

    ★★★★

    If nothing else, it's impressive to make something as seen-it-a-million-times familiar as a bank robbery scene genuinely disturbing and scary.

  • Climax

    Climax

    ★★

    After a patience-testing round of video testimonials in which the large cast takes turns introducing itself (as if this were the kind of movie where characterization matters at all), Noe shows us a dance rehearsal and it briefly seems like this movie might be at least kinetically interesting. But then he goes right back to more patience-testing character chit-chat bullshit, mostly young people having generic conversations about sex that wouldn't pass muster in the hackiest sitcom writers' room. When the…

  • The Beach Bum

    The Beach Bum

    ★★★★★

    "I'm a reverse paranoiac," says McConaughey near the end of the movie containing his best performance. "I'm quite certain the world is conspiring to make me happy." And the movie seems to have been conjured in order to make the world happy in return. Same avant-pop dirtbag-Malick style as Spring Breakers, but this time in service of a warm picaresque comedy that it's frankly impossible to imagine anyone disliking.

  • Leave No Trace

    Leave No Trace

    ★★★★

    Wasn't expecting to get European vibes from this but it really feels like the closest a recent American film has gotten to what the Dardenne brothers do. That said, the subtlety doesn't always work in the movie's favor; Ben Foster's PTSD is a between-the-lines abstraction, you never really see or feel it.

  • The Haunting

    The Haunting

    ★★★★

    Bob Wise knew what the hell to do with a camera. Fun to think of this as the silvery flipside to West Side Story — both making great use of 'Scope, one in vibrant color and one drained to a gloriously grim black and white.

  • Rock 'n' Roll High School

    Rock 'n' Roll High School

    ★★★★

    As mysteries of cinema go, "is Clint Howard supposed to be a faculty member or a student?" is right up there with "why would Dorothy miss the Scarecrow most of all?"

  • On the Town

    On the Town

    ★★★★½

    I know "they don't make 'em like they used to" is the most boring possible statement to make about old movies, but every time I watch a Technicolor midcentury musical I think about how fucked up it is that the entertainment industry basically stopped making entertainment 50+ years ago. Stanley Donen rest in power!

  • The Lady from Shanghai

    The Lady from Shanghai

    ★★★★

    For about half an hour this is my favorite Orson Welles film. The early passages — focused on Orson's roguish sailor romancing Rita Hayworth on the high seas while the unbelievably demented visage of Vaudeville star (and Michael Palin lookalike) Glenn Anders gawks in the background — are perfectly over-the-top, all florid camerawork and juicy dialogue, everything you could want from motion picture entertainment. In today's tongue, this movie is extra.

    But later it loses a lot of its unique…

  • I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang

    I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang

    ★★★★★

    "I STEAL!" What a terrifyingly abrupt ending, decades ahead of its time. The best pre-code drama I've seen, a rare dose of brutal realism in place of the era's usual escapist follies.

    How come no one ever talks about Mervyn LeRoy? He directed like half the '30s movies everyone likes, produced Wizard of Oz, and dated Ginger Rogers. We stan a legend, etc.