Matisse has written 36 reviews for films rated ★★★★★ during 2014.

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • Django Unchained

    Django Unchained

    ★★★★★

    This is my third or fourth time watching Django Unchained and it's still managed to hold as much power as the first time I saw it. It's really nice to see that Tarantino is finally making his way out of his mid-2000's slump. After the frankly disappointing Kill Bill Vol. 2 and the underwhelming Death Proof, he began to show a return to form with the excellent Inglorious Basterds, but even that, in my opinion, doesn't reach the level of…

  • The Battle of Algiers

    The Battle of Algiers

    ★★★★★

    The Battle of Algiers is a truly excellent and brutally realistic depiction of the Algerian War of Independence, that, unlike most political cinema, remains almost completely unbiased. Gillo Pontecorvo utilizes smart direction and documentarian style to portray the vicious and bloody struggle between the occupying French military and the Algerian FLN (Front de Liberation Nationale) and the atrocities committed by each side.

    Though the film is clearly in support of Algerian independence, as is shown by the last few minutes,…

  • There Will Be Blood

    There Will Be Blood

    ★★★★★

    Paul Thomas Anderson impresses again. He may very well be the closest thing to a true modern master in cinema today, as he proves time and time again that he can tell an incredible story. As with most critically acclaimed films, I'm really late to the party with There Will Be Blood, but part of me is happy that I waited this long to see it, because I believe I've only just reached a point in my life where I…

  • Jodorowsky's Dune

    Jodorowsky's Dune

    ★★★★★

    I think one of the greatest tragedies in cinema history is that Alejandro Jodorowsky never got to make his dream for Dune a reality. However, even this black cloud has a silver lining: we got this incredible documentary out of it. It doesn't try to be flashy, and it's mostly just talking heads, but what it does instead is exhibit passion in its purest form. It revolves around the remarkably charismatic Jodorowsky, switching continually between Spanish and broken English to…

  • Pulp Fiction

    Pulp Fiction

    ★★★★★

    100 Movies to See Before You Die Challenge

    #17 of 100

    "Tell that bitch to be cool!"

    Flawless, perfect, exciting, mesmerizing, hilarious, brilliant. A masterpiece.

    Check out my original review:
    letterboxd.com/mvanrossum/film/pulp-fiction/

  • Hellraiser

    Hellraiser

    ★★★★★

    Hellraiser has to be one of my favorite horror films of all time, and despite its flaws, it works so well on so many levels that, in my eyes, it's pretty perfect. Clive Barker's prowess for written storytelling transfers marvelously onto screen. It being his directorial debut, it doesn't offer anything cinematically stunning, but it's first and foremost an example of damn good storytelling. It sets itself apart from the typical horror fare of its time by offering an original…

  • Enter the Void

    Enter the Void

    ★★★★★

    Never have I experienced anything like Enter the Void. And never has a film's title been so perfectly accurate to the experience of watching it. Entering Gaspar Noe's transcendent void of life and death is virtually indescribable. And rarely have I been so emotionally drained after watching something than I was after this film. I even hesitate to call it a film, because it is really more of an experience than anything else. You're bombarded with color and sound, meant…