John Venable

Favorite films are the four most recent 5-star first watches, or films that I've bumped to 5 on rewatch.

Favorite films

  • 3 Women
  • Robin and Marian
  • Election
  • Ran

Recent activity

  • Irma Vep


  • Othello


  • Hamlet


  • King Lear


Recent reviews

  • Hamlet



    Richardson tricks this out with a lot of odd, gimmicky, proto-Dogme 95 directorial choices — shooting the whole production in tight close-ups on the actors' faces; having them deliver soliloquies directly into the camera; casting actors in the roles of Hamlet, Gertrud, and Claudius who are all the same age; never showing Hamlet's father's ghost onscreen (this choice, I like!) — that I'm sure he would call Brechtian but in truth are just gauche and hollow and mostly unsuccessful.


  • King Lear

    King Lear


    A miserablist Soviet Lear, all mud and ice, never not visually striking, but also so mired in a sense of quotidian tragedy that the play's greater tragic structures are undermined somewhat: the only thing tragic about Lear's fate is that he didn't see it coming from miles away. This sensibility seems better suited to Aeschylus than Shakespeare.

    As some others have mentioned, the subtitles on this need a thorough overhaul. After a time, knowing the text fairly well, I was able to ignore them but if you're reliant on subs to tell you what's going on, you're in for a long and confusing night.

Popular reviews

  • Detour



    "Hey, glamorous, gimme change for a dime, will ya?"

    A 67-minute Poverty Row noir masterclass that's actually about poverty. The theme is how one bad decision can snowball when you're hard-up, the subtext is how stuff like this never happens to people with money, and the setting is the big empty you have to cross to get to the City of Angels. The companionship? Nightmarish. As fast, mean, elemental, and endlessly riffed on as they come.

  • Lourdes



    At 17, I cheated death, walking away from a car wreck that should’ve, by all reasonable expectations, killed me. The car was a blue ’66 Dodge Dart that my friend Paul was refurbishing with his dad. They had just replaced the front bench seats but had yet to install the lap belts, though to this day I question if those were ever really in the plans. Noting their absence and Paul's propensity for driving like an asshole — and because…