• Phase IV

    Phase IV

    ★★★★½

    finds footing between ecological thriller, creature features and an innately 70s cinema sense of paranoia, as if Saul Bass wanted to make The Conversation with/about ants (which is apt in more ways than one) -- fueled by an unshakable sense of style, which should be no surprise considering who made it, but what's most remarkable is just how much substance there is beyond that; one of the more hopeless films of its era

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  • Hummingbird

    Hummingbird

    ★★★★

    the Crank films tend to be cited as Statham’s hardened exploitation pictures but, for my money, this feels more akin to the downtrodden, misanthropic, brutally violent genre films of the 70s — advertised as a routine Statham actioner but mostly more reserved (albeit with moments of bad guys being tossed off of rooftops and held at spoon-point) and character driven, positing Statham as a vigilante of sorts, walking the streets of London, seducing young nuns and pummeling vicious men; it’s all quite great and features what is arguably Statham’s best acting work

  • Upgraded

    Upgraded

    ★★★

    one of the better, more sincere, attempts at bringing back the 90s rom-com formula and Marisa Tomei is now a dark horse contender to play Anna Wintour in a biopic

  • The Playgirls and the Vampire

    The Playgirls and the Vampire

    ★★★

    some truly great visuals (those glossy plastic fangs in grainy early 60s black and white, the monochromatic sheer nightgowns) and it sort of feels like a more kitschy, less lustful, Jean Rollin jam but it is admittedly slight, barely making use of its 81 minute runtime -- but, then again, it's lean gothic horror film from Italy with burlesque dancers as the leads so I'm not about to bite the hand the feeds me

  • Kindergarten Cop

    Kindergarten Cop

    ★★★★

    growing up (and old) with Kindergarten Cop has been resonant for various reasons at different stages of my life: as a kid, I identified with the children (naturally, I had the same Real Ghostbusters comforter as Dominic did when this came out); as an angsty young adult, Arnold’s temper tantrums were both comedy gold and a mirror of my perpetual frustrations; but as someone approaching middle age, I now find myself in harmony with Pamela Reed’s character who just wants to eat and be in delirious love with her fiancé while also saving the day — in any case, still great

  • A Formal Faucett

    A Formal Faucett

    ★★

    Paul Thomas is a better Charlie than Bill Murray -- borderline gonzo Charlie's Angels "spoof" that is heavy on sex and, well, not much else

  • The Baron

    The Baron

    ★★★½

    strangely enough, this plays out like a fictionalized Dolemite Is My Name, which shows just how larger than life Rudy Ray Moore actually was, but also how characteristically scummy the independent film "industry" was in the 70s, particularly for marginalized filmmakers -- fairly scuzzy, even as far as these things go, with only moments of brutal violence but a consistent mean streak that makes many of its larger studio contemporaries feel meek in comparison; should, at the very least, be…

  • A Man Called Hero

    A Man Called Hero

    ★★★

    this is like Andrew Lau directing A Bronx Tale and as eccentric, melodromatic and confusing as that sounds -- what it lacks in the insane (and often bloody) violence that most people expect from 90s HK action films, it makes up for in sheer spectacle and style, like people taking wuxia flight through the streets of 1930s NYC, a fight scene featuring weaponized CG water and the titular Hero engaging in combat atop the Statue of Liberty (which is gorgeously green-screened)

  • Out of Darkness

    Out of Darkness

    ★★★½

    The Descent circa 45,000 years ago — narratively slight albeit gorgeously shot, with a true affinity for the dark, and relentlessly brutal and hopeless (which is a compliment)

  • Rapid Fire

    Rapid Fire

    ★★★★

    seems like this is the forgotten Brandon Lee film out of his small body of work, which is unfortunate as it’s a total banger of early 90s action, the type of thing that Seagal was just about too old for at the time and Lee’s younger Hollywood contemporaries lacked his technical skill (he pulled double duty by also choreographing the action), making him a one man army (even if Powers Boothe at least attempts to help) that is as deadly…

  • Platoon

    Platoon

    ★★★★½

    it's safe to say that we all know what Oliver Stone thinks of war and, more specifically, Vietnam because, well, he's told us and loudly -- but what makes Platoon work so well, arguably better than any other film about the conflict, is how much Stone is saying about the world at large outside of the very specific time and place that the film is set in, with each character existing as a sort of microcosm unto themselves; fittingly harrowing but almost never for the expected reasons (Berenger's world weary, scarred, face being the most obvious reference point)

  • The Mule

    The Mule

    ★★★★

    in a way, this feels like Clint doing A Perfect World again but putting Bradley Cooper in the role he played himself two and a half decades prior — a similarly constructed road movie cum crime yarn that is as empathetic towards is antihero as it is romantic for the landscape and people of america; may very well go down as Clint’s last great work (both in front of and behind the camera)