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  • Eraserhead

    Eraserhead

    ★★★★★

    But having rated it five stars, I'm not sure if I ever want to do this to myself again. It was my first time in the theater, and I forgot that on my previous viewing at home I paused a couple times (toilet break, water). In the theater, there is no escape, and I seriously contemplated fleeing a couple times, just because I found the film so effectively anxiety-inducing.

    ERASERHEAD is a miracle of sound design, of no-budget imagination, of…

  • The Long Day Closes

    The Long Day Closes

    ★★★★½

    Perhaps you're like me, and haven't seen much Davies, but you've seen enough Loach and Leigh to feel like you've got the measure of things when it comes to British kitchen-sink miserablism, and autobiographical coming of age stories have no special appeal for you, and you saw THE HOUSE OF MIRTH sixteen years ago and it quickly faded into a miasma of costume dramas, bubbling between THE END OF THE AFFAIR and AN IDEAL HUSBAND and a passel of Austen…

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  • Yummy

    Yummy

    ★★★

    The international zombie horror equivalent of a Big Mac. You know what it's going to taste like before you have it, and if you're fine with that then that's fine.

  • The Plague at the Karatas Village

    The Plague at the Karatas Village

    This may quite possibly be the single weirdest film I've ever seen.

    Imagine Pedro Costa shifting gears and channeling Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Tobe Hooper, Jacques Tati and Franz Kafka, with a bit of KILL LIST thrown in for good measure.

    Now imagine the Kazakh version of the Max Fischer players recruiting a few adults and filming a remake, perhaps after having read about Brecht and watched a bit of Greenaway.

    I suspect there are some basic aesthetic principles I'm misinterpreting from the ground up, but this is just the damnedest thing, veering between spooky, hysterical, surreal, beguiling, and borderline incompetent, without ever losing a coherent aesthetic viewpoint.

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  • A Hidden Life

    A Hidden Life

    ★★★★★

    Speculation has abounded about Terrence Malick's latest, that it might be something "more conventional". It is, and it isn't. Here's how it is: it has its clearest dramatic structure since BADLANDS, possibly even more clear. An Austrian couple during the outbreak of WWII gradually discover that the man will be required to make an oath of loyalty to Adolf Hitler. He believes, because of his Christian morality, he cannot do so. This dilemma drives the entire film, and the relationship…

  • At Eternity's Gate

    At Eternity's Gate

    ★½

    Five runner-ups for my least favourite aesthetic decisions in this film (no order):

    1) Shooting a shot like a POV handheld, but then having the person in frame look off camera to talk, and then doing the opposite
    2) Bottom of frame blur-o-vision applied arbitrarily
    3) Going black and white for literally two shots
    4) Going piss-filter for any number of shots
    5) Repeating audio we've heard like twenty seconds ago

    ... all of which pale in offensiveness to the…