• Beyond Dream's Door

    Beyond Dream's Door

    ★★★½

    Waking nightmares and equally odd reality entangled with gonzo dream-logic flair. Beyond Dream’s Door was wonderfully entertaining as a post-NOES horror haze of surreal imagery mixed with monster splatter. From start to finish, the nightmares within nightmares within WTF shoestring plotting within more nightmares works to twist the performance and filmmaking weaknesses into a sense of increasingly frayed and perpetually unmoored reality. The acting ain’t great, but the low-budget craft here bursts with ambition and creativity that always managed overshadow my gripes.

  • Stopmotion

    Stopmotion

    ★★★

    Aisling Franciosi absolutely carries this nightmarish descent into madness and artistic obsession. Maybe because Robert Morgan’s horror shorts were fresh in my mind, I left Stopmotion kind of underwhelmed. One thing I loved about his shorts was their surrealistic haziness, almost fairytale esque in the way the animated creepiness wormed into live action. And while the stop motion artistry in his feature is superb, I found the crumbling wall between Franciosi‘s reality and headspace to feel so mundane and bland.…

  • Transpecos

    Transpecos

    ★★★

    A competently-constructed one-bad-day morality play unfolding along the border fence, after a routine Border Patrol stop goes sideways and the aftermath tumbles ever deeper into the West Texas narco underbelly. Cartel menace looms over a film that is less of a slow-burn and more of a constant anxious simmer, carried by the intense lead trio of Gabriel Luna (utterly shouldering the whole thing), Clifton Collins Jr. (in an electric supporting role), and Johnny Simmons.

  • The Hollow Point

    The Hollow Point

    ★★★

    Kind of like No Country-lite as a paperback thriller cheeseburger of a film. Ian McShane and Patrick Wilson as morally-opposed lawmen begrudgingly working together, Leguizamo as a brutal cartel hitman, and Belushi as a scumbag car salesman in a neo-noir neo-border-western that was pretty good but not great. The Hollow Point’s story of small-town crime, corruption, and vicious consequences tearing through this dusty corner of a place is cliched and familiar to a fault. Yet it’s always carried forward by…

  • The Cat with Hands

    The Cat with Hands

    ★★★★

    Watching Robert Morgan’s shorts before seeing Stopmotion later, and now I’m even more hyped for his debut feature. This achieves more atmosphere and creepiness in four minutes than some entire movies do in 100. A body part-stealing cat fuses body horror and folktale unease into a foggy nightmare of whispered legends, morphing flesh, and feline horribleness.

  • Versus

    Versus

    ★★★★½

    Kitamura in scrappy Robert Rodriguez mode, Tak’s burgeoning action-star personality given early ‘00s Matrix-y flair, buckets of splatter and whirlwind occult-gangster-zombie carnage. A serious argument to be made for this being just the coolest movie.

  • Gaslight

    Gaslight

    ★★★★½

    Bathed in fog and swathed in chiaroscuro shadows, Gaslight remains as harrowing 80 years later as when it racked up Oscar noms all those decades ago. That the title and concept are immortalized as terminology speaks volumes on the film’s power, but it doesn’t hurt to emphasize how much Gaslight still towers as a chilling - and eventually cathartic - classic. George Cukor’s direction hazily straddles Hitchcock-esque suspense and Gothic psychological horror, gradually tightening its vise of tension yet always…

  • Time to Hunt

    Time to Hunt

    ★★★★

    Seems I’m in the minority for liking this Korean heist/pursuit thriller as much as I do? Its dystopian near-future is underdeveloped - although it does works great as a justification for a lawless urban frontier - and a dragged-out limp ending does mean the movie feels about 15 minutes too long. But I love a nail-biting heist-gone-wrong and Time To Hunt executes that formula with vivid style, taut cat-&-mouse thrills, and Terminator-esque hitman ruthlessness. Echoes of Gonin and Carpenter abound; I had forgotten how much nearly-horror-movie levels of tension were built up in the second half.

  • Side Effects

    Side Effects

    ★★★½

    Side Effects unfolds like a pharma-themed Hitchcock riff/De Palma thriller that’s been transplanted from the ‘90s neo-noir heyday into the 2010s, executed with the sly tonal shifts and elegant low-key style that Soderbergh does so well. A smart entertaining ride carried by a strong cast given meaty nuances to play with, particularly Jude Law in a role that gets to  enthusiastically bounce between entangled victim, amateur sleuth, and cunning schemer.

  • Demons

    Demons

    ★★★★★

    Inexorably drawn back to this suffocating Shakespearean samurai nightmare that’s worthy of the Bard’s most lurid tragedies. Black blood spilt aplenty, and souls stained even blacker, throughout a film awash in delusion, betrayal, madness, ghosts, gruesome violence, and macabre twists of fate. Black & white may have never looked more otherworldly or more haunting than in Demons.

  • Dune

    Dune

    ★★★★

    First rewatch since 2021, and I found myself enjoying Dune more this time around. Still hard to separate the book’s nuances from the film’s streamlined and often abrupt structure, but Villeneuve’s majestic visuals, smart patient direction, and stacked ensemble hooked me regardless. How can I not appreciate $160 million worth of blockbuster sci-fi executed with such lush grandeur and immense scale?

    The political conflict and chess moves between Houses are what suffers most in Villeneuve’s adaptation, either implied background flavor…

  • Bushido Man

    Bushido Man

    ★★★★

    Takanori Tsujimoto (Resident Evil Vendetta, Hard Revenge Milly) x Kensuke Sonomura (Hydra, Bad City, action of Baby Assassins & One Percenter) = this Japanese action delight that deserves way more love for its varied, zany, blisteringly-choreo’d foodie fight saga.