Favorite films

  • Batman Begins
  • Citizen Kane
  • Casablanca
  • Once Upon a Time in the West

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  • He Walked by Night

    ★★★½

  • Somewhere in the Night

    ★★★★

  • Road House

    ★★★★

  • The Velvet Touch

    ★★½

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  • Stillwater

    Stillwater

    ★★★½

    Everything involving the central mystery here is problematic, with multiple lapses in logic and several major plot turn that strain credulity. But there are endearing performances and personal moments that make the film worth seeing. Is Damon playing a liberal’s caricature of a heartland conservative? I don’t know real people well enough to tell, but I find him believable playing a character with this backstory and he fully inhabits the part without pushing personality tics or resorting to extreme stereotype.…

  • Black Widow

    Black Widow

    ★★★★

    When it comes to MCU films I make no claims of objectivity; as an old school Marvel fanboy this film definitely scratches an itch, despite some fairly rote action scenes and SFX overindulgences. I enjoyed seeing deep-cut classic characters like Red Guardian and Taskmaster (and chuckled at name dropping Crimson Dynamo) repurposed for Black Widow’s backstory, and there is a definite feel of a Roger Moore-era Bond film (of course Natasha would know all the dialogue by heart) with an…

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  • The Short History of the Long Road

    The Short History of the Long Road

    ★★★★½

    Chicago Critics Film Festival 2019 - Film #16.

    A lovely and warm film featuring a standout performance from (the apparently famous but new to me) Sabrina Carpenter as Nola. Rather than being a cautionary tale of the many hazards of living homeless and on the road, the film is instead hopeful and optimistic about the general decency of strangers. You can call that naive, but there is also a certain naivety in assuming there is violence and ruin around every…

  • Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

    Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

    ★★★★

    Free online preview screening sponsored by the AFI and Netflix. Post-screening Q&A with director George C. Wolfe and actors Viola Davis, Glynn Turman, Colman Domingo, and Michael Potts, moderated by Samuel L. Jackson.

    I have some trouble appreciating August Wilson because his plays strike me as dueling monologues rather than true narrative dramas. But I enjoyed this more than Fences (2016) because this seemed more a natural story than a cautionary tale, with performances that are more cinematic than theatrical.…