• After Hours

    After Hours

    ★★★★

    who among us has not gotten horny and then blundered our way into the worst night of our existence?

    not for nothing, if i were going to rip off a scorsese movie to do a joker origin story, it would be this one.

  • The King of Comedy

    The King of Comedy

    ★★★½

    That the solipsistic, sociopathic Rupert Pupkin becomes the "king" he always imagined himself as is one of the funniest, bleakest punchlines in modern movie history.

    Most striking thing here is the extent to which Scorsese was even more prescient than he may have realized about the future of American celebrity culture, and the extent to which broad social alienation has driven millions of Americans to aspire to being a "king for a day" as opposed to a "schmuck for a…

  • Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore

    Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore

    ★★★★

    A lovely and generous character study about a woman who had to reach middle age — and suffer tragedy — before she could become herself. If there’s a dominant theme, it is that even the best men can be (and are) burdens on the women around them.

  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

    Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

    ★★★

    A little paint by numbers but the action sequences — at least in the first half — are pretty good. Tony Leung is of course the greatest. 

    Honestly, the thing that frustrates me most about this movie is that the action is so clearly inspired by wuxia and Jackie Chan (the bus sequence is lifted in key respects from POLICE STORY), but neither the wire nor stunt work is on par with those films. Watching this movie, you get a…

  • Mean Streets

    Mean Streets

    ★★★½

    Most interesting thing in this movie to me is the quiet commentary on how race structures desire.

  • Andy the Talking Hedgehog
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze

    Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze

    The problem with this one isn't that it is made for kids. The problem with this one is that the script is shit, it looks like shit, and it is even more of a cynical cash grab than the first movie.

  • Homicide

    Homicide

    ★★

    The best thing I can say about this movie is that Roger Deakins' cinematography is incredible, with a masterful use of shadows and artificial light to illustrate the emotional state of Joe Mantegna’s Bobby Gold. Also, Ving Rhames makes the most of his limited screen time with a great, charismatic performance as the living MacGuffin of the film.

    Otherwise, I think this movie is shot through with Mamet’s reactionary politics. More subtle than they are now, of course, but there all the same.

  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

    Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

    ★★★½

    If you took out the goofy sound effects and ADRed jokes, you would have a movie on par with The Warriors, and whose dark, grimy vision of New York owes far more to films like Nighthawks and The Taking of Pelham 123 than it does the Turtles cartoon that this was clearly capitalizing on.
    That said, for however out of place they are, the kid-friendly elements do not take away from what makes this movie work: the gritty atmosphere and…

  • Friday the 13th Part 2

    Friday the 13th Part 2

    ★★½

    I mean, it's a movie where a bunch of horny teens get killed, and there's not much more to it than that.

  • New Nightmare

    New Nightmare

    ★★★½

    Without question the best movie in this entire series. Wes Craven makes the meta-fiction element work, and the film succeeds as both a meditation on the nature of storytelling — and specifically how stories help us grapple with the reality of evil — and a straightforward horror film.

    I’ll say, as a parent, that Heather Langenkamp (here I’ll confess my gigantic crush on this actress) absolutely captures the fear and terror you’d feel if your child seem to be succumbing…

  • Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare

    Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare

    ★½

    It was watching this movie that I got the idea for the column I wrote for my August 21, 2021 newsletter. Here’s a taste:

    It feels cynical to say, but if there is anything about these movies that isn’t dated — if there’s anything that’s relevant — it is this indifference. The adults of the “Nightmare on Elm Street” franchise just don’t seem to care that much that kids are dying; and in the same way, we live in a society that can’t seem to muster the energy to protect kids from needless death and suffering, whether from gun violence or a deadly pandemic.