• The Wayward Cloud

    The Wayward Cloud


    Water and watermelons; eroticism and pornography; big emotions and big musical numbers: intimacy and its increasingly mediated simulations. An approximation of the real thing, never the thing in itself. Maybe the best you can hope for is a fleeting and partial transcendence of the barrier dividing the two. 

    "It lets you express what you can't say out loud."

  • High Plains Drifter

    High Plains Drifter


    What’s done in the dark will be brought to the light.

  • Youth of the Beast

    Youth of the Beast


    Thoroughly disorienting at every level, from the lean yet overpopulated narrative to the collision of different, equally vibrant color palettes in almost every scene. Perhaps the most bewildering formal element, though, is the cutting: Suzuki largely dispenses with conventional continuity editing / spatial coherence here -- his characters frequently show up in new locations or rooms suddenly, or just a little more awkwardly than classical editing would prescribe. It's like the film is constantly losing 1-2 seconds of the kind…

  • The Master

    The Master


    Division down the middle, like a Rorschach blot. Two symmetrical, connected visions of confronting the world’s stupefying absurdity at the exact midpoint of an absurd century: you either try to reject all masters or strive to become one — either way, you make it all up as you go.

  • Shampoo



    So much potential here for great comedy / interrogation of identity / male manipulation of female image and beauty / collision of Old and New Culture, but it's all so undercooked. This interaction between George and his cuckolded romantic rival near the end pretty much sums it up: 

    Lester: "You live like a pig."
    George: *shrugs* "...Uh, yeah."

    It's ultimately a grand shrug. Beatty's character is so completely a vacuum, so without development or agency or goal beyond compulsively humping every…

  • Unforgiven



    Our legends are all misleading or outright falsehoods, and this is no less true of Munny's reputation -- the only difference for him is that the tales weren't tall enough. Unlike the other mythologized gunslingers here, he's even more terrifying and implacable than the stories suggest, as is the ethos he carries with him: We all got it coming.

  • Eyes Wide Shut

    Eyes Wide Shut


    "I think I have to go over there and show my face."

    The thin disguises we choose to conceal our most essential selves. Masks that both hide who we really are and allow us to act out our most authentic urges because of that concealment.

    In the end, we have two dream stories, one from each partner, to inform and shape the basis of their relationship. To keep going is to accept the ornate masks they've chosen for themselves, to remain enmeshed in their half-dreamed lives, to live with eyes wide shut. The marriage is a dream, but the fucking is real.

  • 6 Underground

    6 Underground



    Exactly what it wants to be.

  • Cure




    The man mumbling enraged profanity while waiting for his dry cleaning is key here: a film filled with people who are so tightly wound from repression that even the faintest suggestion can be enough to tip them over the edge into chaos.

    We are told multiple times not to get in too deep, but Kurosawa’s tightly composed frames (which so often keep tantalizing information just offscreen or shrouded in dark) make it impossible not to keep looking at the light.

  • Only Angels Have Wings

    Only Angels Have Wings


    Definitely underrated this a bit on first viewing, and the merits here are so obvious and manifold that I'm not sure how they weren't more fully lodged in my memory: the flawless and taut first act that gives us an exacting, intricately detailed exhibition of professionals deftly adhering to rigorous process - then what happens when they fail to do that; Kid being told he's permanently grounded, after which he snuffs out his cigarette and slowly recedes to the background…

  • The Game

    The Game


    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    An undeniably fun ride moment to moment. Like the ending itself, though, I'm not sure it adds up to much more than a cool, stylish stunt. (Relevant disclaimer: I am often allergic to movies whose raison d'être is It Was All a Dream / Stunt / Hoax / Absurdly Elaborate Con.)

    I enjoy the implied godlike complexity of all the contingency plans they must have in place for the near-infinite branching pathways that the Game entails (acknowledged explicitly by James…

  • Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

    Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood


    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    Actualization achieved only through the mediated image: reality by way of unreality. Loved it.

    A few stray thoughts:
    -Robbie as Tate going basically unrecognized in the theater then sitting down to watch herself be cheered, guffawed at, and (most importantly) seen by the theatergoers is a fantastic moment of reflexivity. It underlines the Power of Cinema™️, sure, but also more broadly is a witty and supremely fun distillation of the pleasure and validation of a public persona. What elevates it to…