• The Last Duel

    The Last Duel

    ★★

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

    The latest Ridley Scott epic is about a rape accusation in 14th Century France which prompts the last legally sanctioned duel. Jodie Comer plays the victim, Lady Marguerite, who is married to Sir Jean, played by Matt Damon. The rapist is a squire named Jacques Le Gris, played by Adam Driver, a one-time friend of Jean. Their friendship had deteriorated due to several small grievances that arose as Le Gris curried favor with the local Lord (played by Ben Affleck).…

  • Stalker

    Stalker

    ★★★½

    I don’t quite know what to make of this experience. I must have thought some version of that sentiment though to every Andre Tarkovsky movie I’ve seen. Except Andrei Rublev which I pretty much loved unambiguously from the beginning. Yet, I have to say there was something inviting about the obscurity of Mirror and The Sacrifice that I didn’t get here. The movie kept drawing me in and pushing me a way. I wish I had more concrete observations to…

  • The Taking of Pelham One Two Three

    The Taking of Pelham One Two Three

    ★★★½

    This is a brisk, fast-paced hostage thriller about four men who hi-jack a New York City subway car to collect ransom for their hostages. Robert Shaw plays their ringleader, with Martin Balsam, Hector Elizondo, and Earl Hindman play the accomplices. The all-star cast also includes Walter Matthau as the lieutenant on duty with the NYC Transit Police and Lee Marvin as the hapless mayor.

    The cat-and-mouse interplay between Matthau and Shaw anchors the movie and helps to overcome some of…

  • Frenzy

    Frenzy

    ★★★½

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

    This is generally considered the best of Hitchcock’s late period. I think that’s about right. This thriller about a serial killer and the hapless man who is wrongly suspected of the crimes is tightly-wound, well made, and has some interesting ideas. It’s something of a throwback for the master with an added dollop of early Seventies naughtiness. While not entirely a return to form—it does have some point-of-view problems which lead to a somewhat deflated third act, it’s more substantial…

  • Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce 1080 Bruxelles

    Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce 1080 Bruxelles

    ★★★★

    Hitchcock famously once said that drama is life with all the boring bits cut out. I like that line and I come back to it a lot. But in this film, Chantal Akerman proposes a starling rebuttal: life doesn’t have any boring bits, as long as you’re willing to pay close enough attention to it. Actually, I have no idea if that’s what Ackerman was saying, or if she would even agree with that. But it’s what I got out…

  • Scandal

    Scandal

    ★★

    Akira Kurosawa seems to be indulging the anger he feels toward tabloid media with his 1950 drama Scandal. That's an enticing, juicy target. I just wish Kurosawa had approached it with anything close to his normal level of insight and skill. Instead, we're left with a bland, one-dimensional courtroom drama. There are a few bright spots and redeeming moments, but in spite of those, this is for me, the weakest of the Kurosawa films I've seen.

    Toshiro Mifune plays Ichiro…

  • No Time to Die

    No Time to Die

    ★★½

    I'm very much a casual when it comes to James Bond. I've seen a lot of them and haven't seen a lot more. I'm interested enough that every once in a while I get the idea that I want to do a full James Bond review from Dr. No to the present, but that interest is never strong enough to overcome that reluctance I get when I actually consider how many hours that will entail. So I come and go…

  • Best in Show

    Best in Show

    ★★★½

    I must admit to being at least somewhat torn in regard to Christopher Guest's improvisational mockumentaries. I do find them to be very funny, and I love the casts he assembles for this movie, not to mention Waiting for Guffman and A Mighty Wind. My apprehension is because the sorts of documentaries he's making fun of are those lovely human interest stories that find some niche pocket of this crazy world and introduce me to people who care very passionately…

  • Stray Dog

    Stray Dog

    ★★★★

    This movie holds up quite well on the re-watch. I just re-read my earlier review from five years ago and don't have much to add here. I will say that having now watched all of Kurosawa's 1940s films, I think this one is the best. This four-movie streak, though--One Wonderful Sunday, Drunken Angel, The Quiet Duel, and Stray Dog is not talked about enough. Quite impressive.

    I don't know much about Scandal, which connects this streak to Rashomon in the chronology, but I'm looking forward to finding out next week.

  • Ivan the Terrible, Part II: The Boyars' Plot

    Ivan the Terrible, Part II: The Boyars' Plot

    ★★★★

    *The film journal, Sight & Sound takes an international critics poll of the greatest films of all time every ten years. The latest installment is set to come out next year, so I thought I'd catch up with all the films that made their previous seven top ten lists. This time, it's Ivan the Terrible, Parts I and 2, a pair of historical epics made by Sergei Eisenstein. This movie the top ten list in 1962, coming in at number 6,…

  • Ivan the Terrible, Part I

    Ivan the Terrible, Part I

    ★★★★

    *The film journal, Sight & Sound takes an international critics poll of the greatest films of all time every ten years. The latest installment is set to come out next year, so I thought I'd catch up with all the films that made their previous seven top ten lists. This time, it's Ivan the Terrible, Parts I and 2, a pair of historical epics made by Sergei Eisenstein. This movie the top ten list in 1962, coming in at number 6,…

  • Small Engine Repair

    Small Engine Repair

    ★★

    This low key independent buddy movie spends most of its runtime as a leisurely paced, virtually plotless hang out movie until it takes an abrupt turn in its second half to become a topical crime thriller. I won't say much about the twist here, because it's one of those movies that if you like the twist, you'll probably really like the movie. I don't want to spoil it for those who may get more out of it that I did.…