Matisse has written 50 reviews for films rated ★★★★½ .

  • The Night of the Hunter

    The Night of the Hunter

    ★★★★½

    The Night of the Hunter is a film that initially drove me into stunned silence, as I was blown away by its dark brilliance. A southern gothic fairy tale, it combines German Expressionism and noir thrills in equal measure, all held together with some of the strongest directing I've ever seen. It focuses on exploring duplicity and his characterized by opposites: light and dark, good and evil, love and hate, innocence and corruption, tenderness and cruelty, greed and selflessness, the…

  • The Conversation

    The Conversation

    ★★★★½

    Francis Ford Coppola's understated masterpiece, The Conversation, is a very human story of intrigue steeped in paranoia and uncertainty. We follow Gene Hackman's perfectly developed Harry Caul as he descends into fear and doubt over the details of a conversation he was hired to record. Coppola tantalizingly feeds us pieces of crucial information, stringing us along just as he is Caul, allowing the tension to build, as we never know any more than our nervous protagonist.

    The sound design in…

  • The Lady from Shanghai

    The Lady from Shanghai

    ★★★★½

    A Century of Cinema Challenge: 1947

    I'm a huge Orson Welles fan and I always get excited when I sit down to watch one of his films. Unfortunately, my last encounter (The Magnificent Ambersons) left me underwhelmed and disappointed. I'm happy to say that The Lady from Shanghai restored my love of Welles to its former level. I think this film is incredibly underrated and vastly under-appreciated. It doesn't shoot for the lofty heights of achievement reached by Citizen Kane,…

  • The Great Dictator

    The Great Dictator

    ★★★★½

    A Century of Cinema Challenge: 1940

    This is another film that's been so well reviewed that it's hard to really say much that hasn't been said before, so I'll be brief. Charlie Chaplin, master of the silent era explodes into the age of talkies with perhaps one of the most historically important films of all time. His boyish and expertly witty caricature of one of the most despicable men in history is just as poignant as it is hilarious. Chaplin's…

  • Tetsuo: The Iron Man

    Tetsuo: The Iron Man

    ★★★★½

    Woah. I haven't experienced an audiovisual onslaught like this in a long time. Tetsuo: The Iron Man is a film that's disturbing and hard to watch, but in the best way possible. Oppressive, grimy, and relentless, it's probably one of the most intense viewing experiences I've ever had. Shinya Tsukamoto makes an immense and almost nauseatingly intricate universe out of virtually nothing, fusing incredibly detailed practical effects, insane editing, and pounding score to make a rusted, surreal, metal nightmare in…

  • Akira

    Akira

    ★★★★½

    I'm generally not a huge fan of anime. I love Studio Ghibli films and there are a couple of others that I like, but for the most part I'm pretty selective. Then Akira came along and set the bar at a whole new level. To think that this film is 25 years old is stunning because it looks like it could have been made yesterday. The story is incredible in its intricacy and I was hooked from the first scene.…

  • The Adventures of Robin Hood

    The Adventures of Robin Hood

    ★★★★½

    A Century of Cinema Challenge: 1938

    When it comes to The Adventures of Robin Hood, the word "swashbuckling" is a word that's thrown around a lot, and what can I say, there's really no better word to describe it. Hailed as one of the greatest adventure films of all time, this good-natured and upbeat classic is pure fun. This is due mostly to the whirlwind of charisma that is Errol Flynn, with a grin on his face and a witty…

  • In the Heat of the Night

    In the Heat of the Night

    ★★★★½

    As a child, I vaguely remember the spin-off TV show of In the Heat of the Night coming on daytime television, and I would watch it sometimes because I didn't have cable. I don't remember it being very good, but I was also a kid, so that might have something to do with it. Because of those vague memories of mediocrity, I didn't have the highest hopes going into this film, but I did know that it's widely considered a…

  • The 39 Steps

    The 39 Steps

    ★★★★½

    A Century of Cinema Challenge: 1935

    Another Hitchcock classic, The 39 Steps is a tight, exciting thriller with all the right ingredients: murder, mystery, espionage, and romance! We're introduced to our suave hero, Richard Hannay as he's unwittingly pulled into the middle of a secret war between spies and wrongly accused of murder. The rest of the film consists of Hannay trying to clear his name as he smoothly maneuvers his way out of the clutches of the myriad forces…

  • Boogie Nights

    Boogie Nights

    ★★★★½

    Paul Thomas Anderson's Boogie Nights is a grand, sweeping period piece, overflowing with style and seething with confidence. It's really quite hard to believe that this is only his second film, as the mistakes that normally plague relatively new directors are nowhere to be found here. Anderson proves himself not only an extremely talented director, but also a spectacular writer. The story flows smoothly along with no hiccups or bumps and flawlessly weaves itself through the lives of the impressive…

  • Ménilmontant

    Ménilmontant

    ★★★★½

    Menilmontant is a silent experimental film that eschews the use of intertitles in favor of completely visual storytelling. It's a wonderful combination of French avant-garde style filmmaking and Soviet montage editing. The story is straightforward enough, with two orphaned sisters moving from the country to the city after the brutal murder of their parents. While the narrative itself is not particularly complex, they way that Dimitri Kirsanoff chooses to tell it is intricate and masterful. He relies heavily on superimpositions…

  • The Invisible Man

    The Invisible Man

    ★★★★½

    A Century of Cinema Challenge: 1933

    A surprisingly faithful adaptation of one of my favorite H.G. Wells novels, James Whale's The Invisible Man has quickly jumped up to the top of my favorite Universal monster movies list. The effects are well ahead of their time and are quite effective, even after 80 years. I received immense enjoyment watching various articles of clothing caper around a room or down the street as Claude Rains cackled maniacally. On that note, this film…