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  • Unfriended: Dark Web

    Unfriended: Dark Web

    ★★★

    nasty, and useless as any kind of commentary on the economy of spectacle and suffering, but still riveting on the level of construction and filmmaking, using the laptop screen as less a claustrophobic conceit than a playground for informatic and visual manipulations. this might just be a needlessly cruel remonstration of its own audience, but goddamn if it isn't the most baroque and tightly controlled possible execution of that (rather myopic) subgenre of exploitation

  • Tetsuo: The Iron Man

    Tetsuo: The Iron Man

    ★★★★

    the tension between the easiest and most immediate reading, which is that Tsukamoto might just be dressing up a conservative nightmare about the penetration of the middle-class by encroaching technological advancement and outre sexualities, literalized in the scene where the salaryman is penetrated by a woman with a prehensile metallic phallus, and the obvious glee displayed on every formal and narrative level creates a sort of dialectical space for the anxieties and fantasies of transhumanism to be worked out. in…

  • Raising Cain

    Raising Cain

    apparently this is considered minor De Palma even though it's a film almost purely constituted of dizzying phantasmagorias signifying not so much the bleed of dreams and past into reality as the total dissolution of the barriers between these experiences in the face of the intergenerational trauma inflicted by the family. and yet instead of a hitchcockian ending (wherein the overdetermined symbolic order is reinscribed and new traumatic ruptures emerge) de palma opts for a rube goldberg machine miracle. the cycle is broken but its victims remain

  • Cigarette Burns

    Cigarette Burns

    ★★★

    two great scenes (the french 'amateur filmmaker', the ending stretch at Udo Kier's house) surrounded by a whole lotta nearly unwatchable ones and dragged down by a weepy traumatic history so risible that the genuinely incisive sneering at extremity which Carp gets up to here is almost rendered lifeless. but even through Reedus' atrocious performance the fact that a man who spent his career making movies directed this film about how art is sick and cinema is disgusting and the best thing rich people can do is watch a movie and die afterward has undeniable potency. you shouldn't watch this movie!

  • Big Trouble in Little China

    Big Trouble in Little China

    only a dream can kill a dream: the fantasies of wuxia bubble up from beneath the surface of Jack Burton's sunny All-American dream as if to claim revenge for the stolen labor of untold numbers of immigrants on whose backs California was built. and who could claim they don't succeed? poor Jack is humiliated, alone, and tragically convinced of his own heroism while better and stronger men around him dance through neon abstractions and kill half-tangible evils he can't even comprehend. can't think of a better tribute to Tsui Hark than a breezily constructed martial arts comedy about the delusions of men who believe they're heroes

  • Time Regained

    Time Regained

    ★★★½

    almost certainly one of the most complex deployments of Ruiz’s style, characterized by a restlessness and constant reflexive (yet propulsive) forward motion that rivals Proust’s own extraordinarily sensuous prose, and a film that is often tremendously moving, which is why I wish I liked it more than I did. unfortunately, as irresistible as this often was on a moment-to-moment level, structurally it’s shapeless and underdetermined, not to mention overlong but still incapable of rendering the obsessions which animated Proust’s work…

  • Rio Bravo

    Rio Bravo

    has the greatest moments of quiet of any film i've seen: whole movies could be made about the changes that occur when these most human of characters stop speaking and you'd never run out of material. predicts and surpasses every action movie, every male melodrama, honestly every film that was to follow.
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  • Femme Fatale

    Femme Fatale

    ★★★★★

    De Palma goes to Europe and, for the first time, gets really interested in metaphysics: the nature and transference of souls, the encroaching inhumanity of the image as tool and telos, salvation through chance and meaningless structural coincidence. seven years later and no time has passed at all, instead it feels like a different movie collided with this one and some tiny crucial piece got lost in the confusion (but it is wonderfully, gorgeously regained in a dream). some of…

  • Looking for Langston

    Looking for Langston

    ★★★★

    really compelling in how it moves from archetypal abstractions, suggested in the play of shadows and tableaux vivant, to very concrete and historicized particulars (which don’t overbearingly announce themselves as exemplary or vulgarly functional), e.g. the use of Mapplethorpe’s photographs set in an abstract void where their actual historical context is not elided (the narration makes clear the intended critique) but where the gaze is redirected, the black subject moving freely through these images, liberated briefly from the eroticizing/fixating stare of the camera and the structures of power behind it. incomparably lovely film

  • The Ward

    The Ward

    wild that this is considered lesser Carpenter (let alone a bad movie) when it furtively inverts the structure of the slasher and uses it to disassemble the mythologized and otherwise concealed nihilism that low-rent ghost stories, asylum horror, etc. tend to offer as a response to female trauma. that it manages to not only perform these acrobatic feats of deconstruction but also is so restlessly paced and economical in its delineation of spaces is a minor miracle, at least.

  • Siesta

    Siesta

    ★★★

    imagines Europe as an oneiric playscape defined by the interpermeability of space and time, cuts brashly drawing symbolic connections which barely hold together but that nevertheless evoke the brightly-lit phantasmagoria of post-traumatic dissociation. plays a bit like Twin Peaks’ European Vacation honestly (even if Ellen Barkin can’t hold a candle to Sheryl Lee). America is just proximity to death and the fires of nationalist spectacle, a place where no one has to atone for their mistakes; in Europe time runs backwards and death’s an endless, woozy tour through rancid parties and overgrown memories

  • Crawl

    Crawl

    ★★

    wow someone finally told the algorithms about vulgar auteurism!