• Leviathan

    Leviathan

    ★★

    Beautiful, drawn-out misery porn, and even the beauty wears thin with the hundredth static shot of a rocky beach under an overcast sky. I understand the entire point is that the system, the Leviathan, is too powerful for a person to fight, and it will step on that person like an ant without a second thought, but the series of unfortunate events all just feels too thrown together, with certain events just kind of happening in order to bring about…

  • Body of Lies

    Body of Lies

    ★½

    Disclaimer: I was given this movie at random by a bot and probably would never have watched it otherwise.

    There are 82 cuts in the first five minutes of this film. Fortunately, it calms down slightly after that, but even so it seems primarily focused on rapidly covering its story beats, which are rather scattershot, over developing characters or any sort of mood.

    While I can tell the writers made some effort not to paint the American characters in too…

  • Lux Æterna

    Lux Æterna

    ★★½

    It's at least a somewhat unique take on depictions of hellish film shoots, even if the uniqueness is mostly confined to the style and the over the top climax of the film. There's definitely something to the crew, and particularly the DP, acting as an extension of the witch-burning extras in a modern context. But overall it just kind of made me want to watch Häxan, or Day of Wrath, or Irma Vep. Not that I'll ever be capable of watching another film again, because I can no longer see.

  • Wind

    Wind

    ★★★½

    A compelling exercise that succeeds in creating a mood well before the "twist" is revealed, with the camera tracking lazily over the beautiful landscape and the audio sounding something like a radio tuned between stations. And of course, once the reveal occurs, it all becomes considerably more chilling. In contrast to that, however, there's an almost playful element when the film starts with three women looking to the left, causing the viewer to wonder what they're looking at, and then…

  • I Am Cuba

    I Am Cuba

    ★★★½

    First off, the film is absolutely breathtaking from a technical standpoint. I can think of few films that use black and white cinematography as effectively as this, with even the play of light and shadow among the intersecting lines of a sugarcane field being utterly captivating, never mind the immaculate long takes and handheld camerawork roaming through every part of a scene, showing us every event in intimate detail. I don't know if skies have ever looked better. It's an…

  • Cure

    Cure

    ★★★★★

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

    The true brilliance of Cure, its meticulously bleak atmosphere aside, lies in its unique structure - that of a mystery that is essentially de-solved as it progresses; one that becomes increasingly fragmented along with the protagonist's mind, one that is simultaneously objective in its framing yet thoroughly subjective in the way it puts us in Takabe's shoes and keeps us just as mystified and frustrated as he is. And that identification with Takabe serves another purpose, given the film's ultra-cynical…

  • My Darling Clementine

    My Darling Clementine

    ★★★½

    I like that this film takes its time and spends most of its runtime developing the characters and their motivations - or at least some of them, mainly Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday (the other Earps don't have much to them at all, and even Clementine doesn't have a ton to do despite being the title character). The relaxed pacing and inevitable climactic shootout, the gorgeous sprawling vistas, and the memorable characters and interactions allow this to easily hold its own among the (admittedly few) other Ford films I've seen.

  • Nobody Knows

    Nobody Knows

    ★★★★½

    What I really appreciate about Nobody Knows are not the broader, more serious dramatic conflicts that eventually unfold, but the little things, the brief, intimate moments that make it feel lived-in and the characters real, the close-ups of hands performing mundane activities, the little inconsequential conversations. It would have been so easy for a lesser filmmaker to turn the events depicted in the film into a cheap, dramatic spectacle, reveling in the misery of it all, but Kore-eda unflinchingly depicts…

  • Odd Man Out

    Odd Man Out

    ★★★★

    I was a bit skeptical of the film's noncommittal opening message, judging it as a concession to the censors - and while I'd say that still held true by the end of the film, it does end up focusing a lot more on those who encounter Johnny and the ways they react, most of them not wanting to upset their own lives, whether by helping him or by turning him in. However, Reed seems to be pretty firmly in the…

  • Beau Travail

    Beau Travail

    ★★★★

    A study of colonialism through the ritualized movement of the human body, and through the breaking and corrupting of those rituals via pride and anger. But when those tensions erupt, even those moments are portrayed as extensions, perversions perhaps, of the serene earthy ritual of the whole, as if they are to be expected, simultaneously fascinating and grotesque in their precision and their dehumanization. I know I've been comparing a lot of films lately to those of Maya Deren, but I swear the parallels are very much present here in the balletic interpretations of the body, masculinity, and violence.

  • Pas de Deux

    Pas de Deux

    ★★★★½

    Pas de Deux is an absolutely stunning study of cinematic movement. I couldn't help thinking of the films of Maya Deren throughout, as this really seems to pick up where she left off in her use of cinematic language to depict dance. While Deren's dance films (A Study in Choreography for Camera in particular) generally depict that motion traveling through different spaces through clever cuts, Pas de Deux keeps that motion in a single pitch black setting, showing us dancers…

  • And So We Put Goldfish in the Pool.

    And So We Put Goldfish in the Pool.

    ★★★★

    A playful, chaotic yet thoughtful snapshot of small-town (admittedly I was taken aback by that small-town description, considering my own hometown is much smaller than this one seems to be) teenage frustration and rebellion, like a lighter more whimsical version of "Kerosene" by Big Black, but still just as existentially furious in its own way. Evokes that helpless teenage feeling that you have to do something to assert your existence, even if you recognize just how small and insignificant that…