• Blonde

    Blonde

    ★★

    Fiction via nonfiction, false idolatry disguised as reverence. A bizarre marriage of self-aggrandizing stylizations (i.e. von Trierisms; illogical color and aspect ratio changes, fetal telepathy, et al.) and the cruelty of men, thought to be their protectors, upon women, e.g. (but done much better in) Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me*. Under Dominik's repetitive command, it's like watching a woman being dragged for three hours through an abattoir, with a cattle gun to the skull awaiting her (and us, for…

  • Athena

    Athena

    ★★½

    A fire-blooded, high-speed locomotive filled with petrol and gunpowder set to explode. To an extent, it's impressive as a force of action filmmaking, but as much it wants to be a raging potboiler about a violent revolt following the murder of a French-Algerian teenager in a French banlieue, it also wants to be an opera—an enticing design in theory, but one that only succors contradictions between form and narrative. Those impressive long tracking shots (similar to those found in Nemes'…

  • Alphaville

    Alphaville

    ★★★½

    My seventh Godard.

    Excellent as a lesson in worldbuilding, operating within the same utopic/dystopic confines of works like Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness and Szathmári's Voyage to Kazohinia (and, dare I say, to ensnare some readers, a prolonged episode of Cowboy Bebop) wherein an unconversant envoy is dropped into an alien world and must learn to survive, circumvent, or understand its peculiar psychosocial mores and catechisms. A world in which computers are synthesizing their own bastardized (in)version of…

  • Weekend

    Weekend

    ★★½

    "What a rotten film. All we meet are crazy people."

    My third Godard. (RIP)

    It's Bonnie and Clyde in a world full of Bonnies and Clydes. They are all, each of them, caught in some eddy of surrealist violence, stacked upon each other in some bastardized likeness of the circles of hell itself.

    Enter France in the throes of cataclysm, the so-called l'Hexagone made the geopolitical epicenter of Godard's rambling philosophy, a stream-of-consciousness condemnation of not only France's sociopolitical atmosphere,…

  • Nomad

    Nomad

    ★★★½

    As with the thematic constants found in Taiwan New Cinema, this early article of the Hong Kong New Wave deals in the hybridization and dissension of disparate cultures (e.g. David Bowie posters lining walls, much like Elvis Presley records occupying the rooms of the characters in Edward Yang's A Brighter Summer Day, a remark on the Nanjing Massacre as racial tensions arise in a particular scene, etc.), the fast-approaching advent of modernity, and the upheaval of traditional social mores, all…

  • Retribution

    Retribution

    ★★★

    My tenth Kurosawa, twelfth overall.

    It comes on pretty quickly, the notion that this film, Cure (1997), and Pulse (2001) are a part of some unofficial trilogy. Retribution—the last of this proposed "trilogy," each released around the turnstile of the new millennium—effectively combines the two other films, taking the multiple-murder procedural of Cure and the ghostly dark fantasies of Pulse, while situating the action once again in the half-destroyed, perpetually overcast districts of Tokyo. Between the three, always does it…

  • Mad God

    Mad God

    ★★★

    A sort of grindhouse Dante's Inferno (minus the guiding Virgil) via the painterly hellscapes of Hieronymus Bosch, the macabre puppetry of the Quay brothers, and the gonzo irrationality of Shinya Tsukamoto. Quite similar to Oshii's Angel's Egg, e.g. a largely voiceless journey through some decaying world where beasts and freakish humanoids roam freely, and the natural laws are all but dashed. A bit tedious in certain stretches (with particular apologies to the mad-god Alex Cox "live-action" episodes), but always is…

  • A City of Sadness

    A City of Sadness

    ★★★★½

    My fifth Hou.

    “Where are you from? Where are you going?” asks a truculent man gesturing with a sickle in his hand, a small mob of men behind him wielding like-minded tools.
    “I am… Taiwanese.”

    On the matter of human history, long and ever has there been a cyclical affair between who is the collective superior and who is the collective inferior. Violent, ceaseless rhythms of hatred and prejudice. Like with the Hutu and Tutsi in Rwanda, the Sinhalese and…

  • A Gentle Woman

    A Gentle Woman

    ★★½

    Recommendation Watchlist #16/? || Zach

    My fourth Bresson.*

    "Je t'aime."

    A phrase uttered only twice in the film, and only in moments grasping for the threads of romantic connection that were never there to begin with. A last-ditch effort, a noiseless gasp, to heal what could never be healed. They are hollow words, even false. Empty and dead. Perhaps two words that would more than adequately describe the cinema of French auteur Robert Bresson, here in his ninth feature film,…

  • Falling in Love

    Falling in Love

    ★★

    A descendant of David Lean's Brief Encounter and an ancestor to Wong Kar-wai's In the Mood for Love—though coming nowhere near in matching the brilliance of either—director Ulu Grosbard's Falling in Love charts the adulterous liaison between two married New Yorkers (Robert De Niro and Meryl Streep) as they, via excessively contrived acts of serendipity, do the very thing the stuffy title of the film would suggest. They are of course reluctant to follow through with their infidelities, and while…

  • Scanners

    Scanners

    ★★½

    My eighth Cronenberg.

    More or less convinced now that Cronenberg is the Dario Argento of Canadian horror: their ichorous concepts and blood-imbrued imagery are always intoxicating to varying degrees, but their actors are often horrible, wildly inconsistent. At the very least, Cronenberg later evolved from this, albeit perhaps solely on the point of working with actors of higher caliber. Stephen Lack is dreadful as the lead, but luckily character actor Michael Ironside is delightfully vile as the telepathic villain bent…

  • Evil Angels

    Evil Angels

    ★★½

    The natural comparison for co-writer and director Schepisi's Evil Angels (or the better titled A Cry in the Dark for international audiences outside Australia and New Zealand) would be to Peter Weir's Picnic at Hanging Rock: both are based on true stories, the locale for the inciting incident takes place among two disparate yet equally remote Australian rock formations that serve as the epicenter for mysterious, borderline preternatural disappearances, and the two films treat the disappeared as unseen, pervasive specters…