• Tai-Chi Master

    Tai-Chi Master


    Yuen Woo-ping's focus on athleticism and speed— compared to say, more image-oriented peers like Corey Yuen— naturally pairs well with Jet Li in his prime (not to mention somewhat under appreciated Chin Siu-ho). There's a nice simplicity in how the wire choreography in the last fight attempts to reflect the newly established philosophy of the titular character, even if Woo-ping is also too much of a jokester to really sell the spiritual awakening.

  • Oppenheimer



    It's probably easier to gravitate towards the overlapping symbolic and narrative models— Oppenheimer's vision and subsequent horror reflected in a cinematic language designed to suck the viewer in to some technical marvel before admonishing them for being impressed by an event that could justifiably be considered the end of modernity (not to mention the subtextual concerns of quite literally building a bomb and new film stock to tell that story)— because the emotional core barely registers. Nolan can't sell any…

  • The Equalizer 3

    The Equalizer 3


    A return to form after the last entry, an elevator pitch nigh impossible to fuck up: one of the greatest actors of all time running around Italy like a black-ops slasher villain. Antoine Fuqua is one of our most cherished hacks, the undefeated king of the three star banger, and this is basically the Steven Seagal movie he never directed.

  • Dragons Forever

    Dragons Forever


    Yuen Wah is so goddamn funny here: yes, chomping a cigar during the final battle, but also walking over the couch instead of around it, and of course the running gag of him enjoying watching Jackie and Yuen Biao fight gets funnier every time. By now it's unsurprising how well Sammo bakes the comedy into the narrative momentum of the action, but this is possibly the only one where the romcom antics could actually stand on their own without the…

  • Royal Warriors

    Royal Warriors


    It says a lot about the Hong Kong film industry at this time that a movie featuring Michelle Yeoh jumping out of an exploding tank and into a chainsaw fight is merely "pretty good."

  • The Millionaires' Express

    The Millionaires' Express


    Total comfort food. Sammo's 2.35 compositions really compliment his choreography here; it's less kinetic than his peers but he knows instinctively where to put a camera so the logic of whatever beat he's filming flows naturally. Besides, martial arts western? That's the best genre!

  • The Channel

    The Channel


    Kaufman finally delivers what he's capable of with a nuts & bolts DTV crime yarn featuring typically phenomenal shootouts, along with a pathos the genre tends to lack. Like his peers Kaufman does a great job working around the budgetary limitations, cutting quickly after bullet impacts so the chintzy CGI doesn't distract (although what I wouldn't give for a special SQUIB EDITION rerelease). That this trick adds immediacy without disorienting is like action direction slight hand: you barely register how well…

  • The Witch

    The Witch


    For all the foregrounding of Puritan dogmas and tradition leading to ruin, I don't get the impression Eggers himself is particularly religious, there isn't much ambiguity or torment about the family being punished for their beliefs; there is a systemic violence here, but beyond patriarchal it is right there in the text, in which New World colonizers encounter the evil they project onto and enact upon the world.

  • Rage



    Farm-to-table DTV haute cuisine featuring some of the finest vehicular carnage imaginable. Also appears genuinely composed for 4:3— somewhat unusual for nonsense of this caliber— which does double duty in helping the choreography echo the claustrophobia of the narrative, while also scoring high on the Fist Pump Scale every time a henchman is thrown through a pane of glass and directly towards the camera.

  • Friday the 13th

    Friday the 13th


    Looks nice and remains true to the franchise's raison d’être— killing horny teens with sharp objects— so ultimately a decent entry (and as a fan I begrudgingly admit, perhaps one of the best?), although I find it GUILTY of being a direct sequel to the original while having an identical name, a decade before David Gordon Green pulled the same trick. Who allows this nonsense?

  • Past Lives

    Past Lives


    A few tender moments can't overcome the missing interiority needed to elevate the romantic stakes, and the central metaphor is a smidge too hacky to compensate for the lack of time spent developing tension. At any rate the stretch in the middle with the Skype calls is the clear highlight, particularly the cut to the extremely distorted lift footage: it's the only time Nora's idealization of her own struggle is given any consideration, when the outside world fades away and the characters are allowed to be more than just ideas. I will watch whatever Song comes up with next.

  • Nope



    Worked more for me on a second viewing, or at least Peele's clunky managing of the central eight thousand metaphors felt less like a hindrance and more like flavour on the margins. Even the Gordy sequence seemed more— but not entirely— in service of atmosphere or texture than some abstract thematic obligation. Peele's successes typically land when he tries to scare (first alien attack), not instruct (TMZ guy), and Gordy is probably as close as he gets to productively fusing those instincts.