• Bernie

    Bernie

    ★★★½

    Bernie is a film that's been flying low on my radar for a while that I decided to watch yesterday on a whim combined with a recommendation from a friend. The result was pleasantly surprising. I'd say I'm relatively unfamiliar with Richard Linklater's films, having seen School of Rock so many years ago I can barely remember it, and being too young to appreciate Waking Life or A Scanner Darkly the last time I saw them. But considering that he…

  • The 400 Blows

    The 400 Blows

    ★★★★★

    A Century of Cinema Challenge: 1959

    Finally getting around to watching another acclaimed masterpiece I haven't seen before. Fracois Truffaut's The 400 Blows sure didn't disappoint. Simultaneously charming and heartbreaking, but without a touch of melodrama, it follows Antoine Doinel, a misunderstood young boy stuck between and unforgiving school life and indifferent, uncaring parents. Truffaut's decision to keep young Antoine at a distance is actually one of the film's strongest aspects. By making him relatable but unsympathetic, Truffaut invites us…

  • Jaws

    Jaws

    ★★★★½

    100 Movies to See Before You Die Challenge

    #18 of 100

    A true classic in every single way. I can't help but catch myself mouthing those iconic one-liners and "Smile, you son of a--" still sends the best chills down my spine. I don't think I ever won't love this movie.

    My original review:
    letterboxd.com/mvanrossum/film/jaws/

  • Godzilla

    Godzilla

    ★★★½

    Gareth Edwards's Godzilla was actually a pretty pleasant surprise. I've been a big fan of Godzilla as long as I can remember, having watched King Kong vs. Godzilla on VHS as a kid more times than I can count, so there was definitely a touch of nostalgia that was stimulated by the most recent summer blockbuster. Nostalgia aside, I really enjoyed Edwards's debut feature, Monsters, when I saw it a few years ago. I was impressed by its focus on…

  • Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

    Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

    ★★★½

    One of the few remaining Miyazaki films I hadn't seen, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind is a beautiful, if somewhat unpolished early effort from Studio Ghibli. I couldn't help but notice a lot of thematic similarities between this film and some of Miyazaki's later works, most notably Castle in the Sky, released two years later, and Princess Mononoke almost a decade later. Nausicaa seems to be a sort of jumping off point for Miyazaki, where he explored some…

  • Touch of Evil

    Touch of Evil

    ★★★★½

    A Century of Cinema Challenge: 1958

    My respect and admiration for Orson Welles knows no limits. He was one of the truly greatest filmmakers ever and a master at his craft. It's really a shame that his career was such a difficult one, his struggles with Hollywood producers seemingly never ending. The version of Touch of Evil that was released to the public was, similarly to The Magnificent Ambersons, cut to hell and back and its only been in recent…

  • The Seventh Seal

    The Seventh Seal

    ★★★★★

    A Century of Cinema Challenge: 1957

    The Seventh Seal is my very first Bergman film and I don't think I could have had a better introduction. This allegorical masterpiece follows the knight Antonius Block and his squire on their return home from 10 years fighting in the Crusades. They arrive in Sweden to find it ravaged by the plague, and Antonius engages in a game of chess with Death himself in order to buy a reprieve long enough to perform…

  • The Ten Commandments

    The Ten Commandments

    ★★★

    A Century of Cinema Challenge: 1956

    Perhaps one of the grandest films I've ever seen, but also one of the most full of itself. There's no denying the incredible achievement of Cecil B. DeMille's The Ten Commandments and it's undoubtedly one of the biggest landmarks in cinema history, but it takes itself so seriously that I just couldn't get into it. Not being able to get into a film is bad enough when it's 90 minutes or even two hours,…

  • Insidious: Chapter 2

    Insidious: Chapter 2

    With Insidious: Chapter 2, James Wan could have gone two directions. He could have stuck with the quiet eeriness of the first two-thirds of the original film (what made Insidious so effective), or he could have carried on the unbelievable, ridiculous melodrama of the final act. Unfortunately, he decided to go with the latter, and that's why Chapter 2 ended up as an uninspired, unnecessary sequel to a solidly self-contained story.

    Wan's now familiar visual style is one of the…

  • The Night of the Hunter

    The Night of the Hunter

    ★★★★½

    "Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms."

    My original review:
    letterboxd.com/mvanrossum/film/the-night-of-the-hunter/

  • Insidious

    Insidious

    ★★★

    James Wan is, if nothing else, a competent director. His scope is rather narrow, but he's pretty good at what he does. After a second, and much less distracted viewing, I still don't think that Insidious is the terrifying landmark horror film that many proclaimed it to be on its release, but it's relatively well done and creepy for the most part. Wan offers a return to the tried and true haunted house setting, and while Insidious suffers from many…

  • East of Eden

    East of Eden

    ★★★★

    A Century of Cinema Challenge: 1955

    I haven't read Steinbeck's East of Eden, but I have read The Grapes of Wrath and seen John Ford's marvelous adaptation, so I went into this with high expectations. I wasn't disappointed. Elia Kazan's adaptation of East of Eden is a beautiful film, both visually and thematically. Set in Salinas Valley, California, on the eve of America's entry into World War I, it follows Cal and Aron Trask, two brothers who compete for the…