• The Seventh Seal

    The Seventh Seal

    ★★★★★

    Got to see a 35mm print of this on the big screen at the Milwaukee Film Fest. Quite a treat. The small screen just doesn't do it justice.

  • Ida

    Ida

    ★★★★½

    Pawel Pawlikowski's Ida is a beautifully haunting film that packs heaps of meaning into a sparse, 80 minute frame. In Poland, 1962, Anna, a young novice at a convent, is ordered by her Mother Superior to seek out her only living relative, whom she has never met, before she takes her vows. Not knowing what to expect, Anna travels to visit her Aunt Wanda, a hardened, bitter woman who tells her that Anna's real name is Ida, she's Jewish, and…

  • Oculus

    Oculus

    ★★★★

    Well this was really a treat, and for more reasons than one. Not only is Oculus one of the freshest, most interesting horror films I've seen in a while, it was also really a pleasure to watch because it was filmed in Fairhope, Alabama, the town where I grew up. On top of that, the house that it takes place in is maybe four or five houses down from my best friend's house; I've driven past it more times than…

  • The Silence of the Lambs

    The Silence of the Lambs

    ★★★★★

    100 Movies to See Before You Die Challenge

    #19 of 100

    One of my favorite films of all time. No matter how many times I've seen it, The Silence of the Lambs invariably gets two or three rewatches a year because it still manages to send chills up my spine every time. A fabulous example of a tight story and incredible characters working together to create some of the finest cinematic tension ever. Jonathan Demme's firm grasp of atmosphere ensures…

  • A Fistful of Dollars

    A Fistful of Dollars

    ★★★★

    A Century of Cinema Challenge: 1964

    Honestly, after such a recent viewing of Yojimbo, A Fistful of Dollars didn't pack as much of a punch as I was expecting. That being said, I really ended up enjoying it and can safely say that this is one of the few unnecessary remakes that actually works. Clint Eastwood's iconic Man with No Name, while not containing quite as much depth as the wandering ronin Sanjuro, is still a totally cool character with…

  • 8½

    ★★★★★

    A Century of Cinema Challenge: 1963

    I've finally gotten around to watching my first Fellini film, and it's yet another of many that I've had to scold myself for taking so long to watch. 8 1/2 is a film that's really up my alley. Beautiful, surreal, funny, and truthful, it follows Italian director Guido Anselmi (a semi-autobiographical portrait of Fellini himself) as he struggles to make a film that he himself cannot quite grasp, while he's bombarded on all sides…

  • Batman Begins

    Batman Begins

    ★★★★

    The Dark Knight trilogy is easily my favorite superhero series. My girlfriend got me the special edition box set for Christmas a couple of years ago, so I do several annual rewatches. Unlike most people, Batman Begins is my least favorite of the trilogy, but I still love it. Nolan redefined the superhero genre, offering dark, gothic realism in favor of flamboyant camp. Also my favorite origin story, Batman Begins pays special attention to what makes Bruce Wayne tick, and…

  • Dr. No

    Dr. No

    ★★★★

    A Century of Cinema Challenge: 1962

    To start with a brief disclaimer, one of the rules of this challenge is that I can only watch films I haven't seen before, and it's been so many years since I've seen Dr. No, that I didn't even realize I had seen it until I started watching it, so I'm breaking that one small rule just this once.

    That being said, this was a huge nostalgia trip for me. I grew up on…

  • 13 Assassins

    13 Assassins

    ★★★★

    I'm incredibly surprised how much more I enjoyed 13 Assassins on a repeat viewing. I liked it the first time I saw it, but I got a little lost and bored in the first 70 minutes or so, just because there's a ton of characters to remember and a lot going on. So this time I definitely had more of an understanding, and it really brings this film together. Beautifully shot, well acted, and really exciting. That final battle scene…

  • Yojimbo

    Yojimbo

    ★★★★★

    A Century of Cinema Challenge: 1961

    My second Kurosawa! After Rashomon, I was already impressed with Kurosawa's skill at storytelling, but now after Yojimbo, I'm blown away. An incredibly tight script combines with an unmatched visual sense and directorial prowess to create a supremely cool samurai film. When a wandering ronin takes up residence in an isolated town being fought over by two criminal factions, he establishes himself as an invaluable asset and soon has both factions desperately trying to…

  • L'Avventura

    L'Avventura

    ★★★★

    A Century of Cinema Challenge: 1960

    A tricky film to review, especially after the first viewing. Antonioni's classic L'avventura is certainly adventurous. Visually, it's very beautiful, almost painterly. Each shot is perfectly composed and lit, particularly in the first act, set in the islands of the Mediterranean. Antonioni is wonderfully successful at making the film feel grand, with its myriad of gorgeous settings and stunning cinematography. The story is a little slow and kind of dense at times, focusing on…

  • Punch-Drunk Love

    Punch-Drunk Love

    ★★★★

    Punch-Drunk Love is my fourth Paul Thomas Anderson film and the one that most surprised me. I was expecting another odyssey, something akin to Boogie Nights or There Will Be Blood, but what I got was something much more personal and intimate. Punch-Drunk Love is definitely PTA, but PTA miniaturized and dipped in surrealism. It feels more like an expression by a young auteur than anything else. I'll admit, I can't immediately determine whether that's a strength or weakness. It's…