• Love and Monsters

    Love and Monsters

    ★★

    37/100

    A.V. Club review. Imagine A Boy and His Dog as re-conceived for the Twilight audience.

  • Cat People

    Cat People

    ★★★★

    73/100

    Third viewing, last seen four years ago; I rewatched it prior to my first viewing of Curse (which turned out to be a mistake, as few sequels featuring the original cast and made in a timely fashion have ever gone in such a radically different direction). Since I wrote it up not that long ago, I'll just give a shoutout here to Theresa Harris, who's only in the film for like two minutes (as Minnie the diner waitress) yet still makes an impression. "My goodness, don't nobody like chicken gumbo?"

  • The War with Grandpa

    The War with Grandpa

    ★★

    40/100

    A.V. Club review. It's possible that I'd have mildly enjoyed this had it not been liberally garnished with such hip, modern comedy as Rob Riggle repeatedly screaming at the sight of De Niro's exposed junk. The basic premise is fun and even kinda touching.

  • Erin Brockovich

    Erin Brockovich

    ★★★

    60/100

    Second viewing, last seen a month prior to its U.S. theatrical release. My "Watch This" piece for A.V. Club skews fairly positive (since the feature's not called "Don't Watch This"), but in fact I liked it a bit less this time, had anticipated a rating around 67 or 68. Just more of a blatant crowdpleaser than I'd remembered, in ways that occasionally annoyed me (e.g. Brockovich mistakenly thinking Masry's gonna shaft her with the bonus check and getting all…

  • An Amazing Couple

    An Amazing Couple

    ★★★★½

    84/100

    Third viewing, same deal as On the Run: previously seen at TIFF '02 and Rotterdam '03. Nobody writes comedies like this anymore, which is to say that nobody plots comedies anymore; there are virtually no jokes here, in the conventional sense—just a situation that keeps absurdly escalating in ways that surprise and delight. The one gag proper, in which Alain constantly revises his will in response to new developments (via microcassette dictation), made me wonder why more filmmakers don't…

  • On the Run

    On the Run

    ★★★★

    77/100

    Third viewing, last seen at the 2003 Rotterdam Film Festival. (I've now watched it in three different countries. First time was at TIFF.) Kinda wish Belvaux hadn't cast himself in the lead—he's fine when Bruno's being grimly methodical, but never really comes across as threatening. Also wish I owned The Trilogy in some form other than a DVD so old that it's optimized for Academy-ratio TV screens (hence windowboxed on the set that I now own). Other than that,…

  • Winter Sleep

    Winter Sleep

    ★★★

    56/100 [was 55]

    Second viewing, last seen at its Cannes premiere. Tiny rating bump just reflects the fact that I love this for an even longer stretch than I'd remembered—basically the whole first hour, up to the point where Aydin's sister starts picking epic fights and then vanishes from the movie. Otherwise stand by what I wrote at the time, and that goes double for considering Haluk Bilginer's performance the single greatest of 2014.

  • The Nest

    The Nest

    ★★★★

    73/100

    A.V. Club review. Second viewing was a poor-memory rollercoaster of "Oh, no, the horse isn't so bad" followed by "Ohhh, right, yeah, the horse is that bad." Too much horse. But otherwise terrific.

  • Anton Chekhov's The Duel

    Anton Chekhov's The Duel

    ★★★½

    64/100

    [tweets from 2010]

    The duel is actually the weak point, as that's when the characters become ideological pawns.

    Still, highly enjoyable. I especially liked the ultra-weaselly lead. [SEP 2020: It was Mr. Andrew Scott, then unknown.] Chekhov consistently seems to bring out the best in actors.

  • Solitary Man

    Solitary Man

    ★★★

    52/100

    [originally written for Las Vegas Weekly]

    Few things in life are more pathetic than the aging privileged male who bumps up against irrefutable evidence of his own mortality and instantly turns into a destructive, carpe-diem asshole. To its credit, Solitary Man, directed by the team of Brian Koppelman and David Levien (Knockaround Guys), fully recognizes this, and portrays its ostensible hero, skirt-chasing 60-ish car dealer Ben (or “Captain Ben,” as he insists that his grandson call him, so as…

  • Street Days

    Street Days

    ★★★½

    61/100

    [tweet from 2010]

    Starts slowly and ends unconvincingly, but the middle is a strong, picaresque depiction of a squandered life.

  • Eastern Plays

    Eastern Plays

    ★★★

    54/100

    [tweet from 2010]

    Bulgarian character study starts out strong but gets really speech-y and disjointed in back half.