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  • Humoresque

    Humoresque

    ★★★

    Humoresque has glimmers of real passion, but it’s just so bogged down by the weight of its overblown story. It plays out like a by-the-numbers musical drama, a cinematic recreation of so many stories we’ve seen dozens and dozens of times before. I’m a big fan of both John Garfield and Joan Crawford— they’re enticing on screen together, when the film allows them the chance. The underlying problem is that the film just can’t escape its own tiresome seriousness. Beyond…

  • Phantom Thread

    Phantom Thread

    ★★★★★

    I’ve been avoiding rewatching Phantom Thread for a full year now. There’s this strange fear I have about my favorite films, as if the sacredness of the first viewing will scatter into dust when I watch it a second time, and I will have to repeatedly lie to myself into loving it with the same sincerity as the first, despite that nagging feeling telling me the magic has disappeared. But, with this second viewing, I grew to love Phantom Thread

  • A Letter to Three Wives

    A Letter to Three Wives

    ★★★½

    My last film of 2018. This letterboxd diary entry isn’t so much a review of A Letter to Three Wives (which is a fine, well-acted film, by the way) as it is a reflection of my own film journey this year. I only began watching classic films mid-2017, comparatively naïve of what I would find, how much it would impact my life. This year alone, I watched around 424 films, 312 of which were released before 1970. I immersed myself…

  • Unfaithfully Yours

    Unfaithfully Yours

    ★★★★

    I had high hopes for my first Preston Sturges film— I was expecting Unfaithfully Yours to be funny, but I wasn’t quite prepared for the absolute zaniness of it all. Along with all the other crazy stuff that happens in the course of this film, there’s also a nearly silent, 15-minute-long scene where Rex Harrison unintentionally wrecks all the furniture and decorations in his home as he desperately and unsuccessfully tries to frame his wife's supposed lover. Masterpiece.

    3.8/5

  • Kind Hearts and Coronets

    Kind Hearts and Coronets

    ★★★★

    A delectable tale of aristocracy and murder, where one man, robbed of his inheritance, sets out to kill off all the remaining members in line to his family’s dukedom. It’s incredibly dry in its delivery, and incredibly funny, too, making it a delight to watch. My only problem with Kind Hearts and Coronets— which seems to be clouding my view of the film more and more— is the racist slurs used in the last ten minutes. This is why I can’t rate this film even higher than four stars; the racist language is inexcusable. (And, no, the time period is no excuse.)

    3.9/5

  • The Haunted House

    The Haunted House

    ★★★★

    I can see why this isn't Buster Keaton's most highly rated short, but I can't lie, it made me smile for 21 minutes straight. I really am a sucker for his pretty face and over-the-top gags, huh.

    3.8/5

  • Nightmare Alley

    Nightmare Alley

    ★★★½

    Some scattered thoughts (like this movie):

    ● This film is centered on carnivals AND it’s a noir, so it’s obviously completely made for me.

    ● The concept is very interesting, but the plot is strangely paced, and multiple storylines are abandoned just as quickly as they appear. It’s very frustrating watching a film lose focus so many times, especially when it had so much good potential in the first act.

    ● Not nearly enough Joan Blondell.

    ● There’s a character in this film played by Helen Walker that is so Gone Girl-esque— I’m dying for a different film just centered on her character.

    3.25/5

  • Raw Deal

    Raw Deal

    ★★★★

    Man, I love 40s film noir so much, even while acknowledging their predictability and all their faults. There’s just a weird sort of comfort I get from these films almost because of their predictability—being greeted by morally ambiguous characters in classic raincoats and fedoras, filmed in beautiful black & white photography. It’s indescribably reassuring, and I'm not quite sure why.

    3.75/5

  • The Kid Brother

    The Kid Brother

    ★★★★

    I’ve been slowly getting back into watching silent films again, after a long, unplanned (and idiotic) hiatus. The Kid Brother is my fourth Harold Lloyd film (third silent), and I’m so glad I decided to give this a second chance after a failed first attempt six months ago. The story is simple and uncomplicated, but it’s just so harmless and fun. The most memorable scenes for me are the chase sequences in particular, so full of clever gags and breathless…

  • Touch of Evil

    Touch of Evil

    ★★

    Orson Welles really looked at this man and said, yes, he's the perfect actor to play the Mexican cop in my movie.

  • It's a Wonderful Life

    It's a Wonderful Life

    ★★★★

    Rewatching It’s a Wonderful Life has been a really strange experience for me. I was relying on this film to fill me up with happiness, the same type of happiness I felt while watching it for the first time last year. Instead, I felt myself bottling up a peculiar pang of melancholy, and that feeling persisted right up till the ending, where once again I found myself tearing up, but not for the same reason. The accumulation of George Bailey’s…

  • Written on the Wind

    Written on the Wind

    ★★½

    Here’s the thing— this story, with all its familiar brand of melodrama, is so outside my tastes and the types of films I regularly enjoy. If it had been made as a 21st century Lifetime movie (and it probably has, let’s be honest), I wouldn’t have even bothered to watch it. But knowing Douglas Sirk and his signature style is perhaps entirely the reason why I continue to watch his films time and time again. There are no surprises in…