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  • Day of the Outlaw

    Day of the Outlaw

    ★★★★

    Clearly an influence on The Hateful Eight with its snow-bound desolation. All because they're both set in Wyoming and tensions brew at a harboured refuge. (The original Minnie's Haberdashery was aptly called Bitters.) For those who thought Tarantino indulged in provoking politics, they'll most likely prefer de Toth's subversive leanness. Instead of gunslinger western tropes, it's bleakly cabin-feverish. Here's to survival of the fittest!

    Major props to the MoC Blu which somehow gives a new term to gorgeous monochrome. The…

  • The Skin Game

    The Skin Game

    ★★

    Okay, so now it's evident that my 10-set DVD of Hitch's early talkies are poorly synced from a VHS scan. (In some instances, the buzzing audio was louder than Murder!, which is just difficult without subtitles.) Looks like I'll just have to attune a closer ear. What's funnier, though, is that it's not even the worst facet of this catatonic play adaptation. Far out.

    Almost zilch is offered up until the halfway mark. All predicated on interior conversations of stagy…

  • Goldfinger

    Goldfinger

    ★★★★

    Initial thoughts can be found here. An optional rewatch as my 35mm theater experience was beyond ideal. But hey, I'm cruising through the entire franchise, and this sturdily slick effort is always a delight. Surprised I forgot to mention the superb pre-credits intro—a steamroller of suspense, from Bond's looming ocean-seagull disguise, to blowing up the kingpin's lab, and that brilliant close-up of a henchman's reflection in Bonita's eyeball. Still dislike Bond and Oddjob's graceless fistfight (though Sakata gives a great…

  • Black Moon

    Black Moon

    ★★★

    File alongside Malle's broad versatility to go a newer route. At this point, I've seen ten movies by him and they're all so dissimilar. I mentioned his eclectic variance during Viva Maria! and could've saved it for this wackadoo piece of dream logic. Not a single sequence can be equated to the rest of his filmography.

    Whether that's a barometer of quality, though, hasn't always been the case. I'm not convinced this movie is able to decide between Freudian melancholia…

  • You Kill Me

    You Kill Me

    ★★½

    Gave this a shot due to its cast wattage. Aside from plainspoken charisma champs like Dennis Farina and Philip Baker Hall, it also features Ben Kingsley as an unstable gangster. (Was hoping for those bluntly profane Don Logan manchild vibes where he refuses to let anyone speak!) So it had the blueprint of a dark crime-comedy that'd appeal to me. Thing is, one thread is adequate and the other is a generic vacuum, where not even the trio's personable traits…

  • The Ballad of Narayama

    The Ballad of Narayama

    ★★★★

    Reeled me in from Northern Japan's exquisite helicam snow-shots. And even more by Imamura's inspired formal choice—close-ups of devouring animals to vulgar village folk. (In which that connection is crystallized during the grim Amaya clan burial sequence.) Via these cutaways between two unforgivable terrains, it left me slackjawed!

    Memorably searing images, too, for what's an outline on Japan's harsh conditions. (E.g. a tumefied newborn corpse in a rice paddy or a snake guzzling on a frog.) If Imamura used the…

  • The Trip to Greece

    The Trip to Greece

    ★★★½

    Ten years have passed since The Trip gave credence to Coogan and Brydon's self-fictionalized duo. Now their latest venture has them likened to Odysseus' decade journey from Troy to Ithica. (Well, in the space of six days.) I dug this fortuitously inspired framing device about a Homeric voyage! It's a damn delight to watch them follow Ulysses' path and forge their own.

    “Sing, Goddess, Achilles' rage, black and murderous, that cost the Greeks incalculable pain...", Brydon intones Homer's lines, overlooking…

  • Murder!

    Murder!

    ★★½

    Disclaimer: Watched this on the 10-set DVD of Hitch's early talkies, but it was very much a terrible VHS scan. Buzzing feedback would sometimes be louder than actual dialogue. Now I'm curious to see if The Skin Game, Rich and Strange and Number 17, etc, are poorly rendered. In any case, this movie would still be a wooden and rote procedural, though its techs were... not ideal. Hard to not be distracted.

    At least it began with eponymous chaos and…

  • From Russia with Love

    From Russia with Love

    ★★★½

    Most seem to suggest that Dr. No is the inferior one. But I'd put this... on par, amended in some aspects, and weakened in others. On a tense set-piece basis, this excels a lot more, which is what previously worked for me. Years later and the fisticuffs, wristwatch garrote and briefcase knife is still brutal! The difference between vicious gadgets and bizarre high-tech.

    For a Cold War spy actioner, it's excellent stuff, and ups the ante as a continuation should.…

  • Lacombe, Lucien

    Lacombe, Lucien

    ★★★

    All this evoked was cold admiration from a distance. Here's a WWII character study that fulfills at what it does—the Gestapo's command infiltrates Lucien's mind, and he then abuses that power on others out of self-interest. In the lead role, unknown Pierre Blaise keeps an implacably detached look who's meant to be a complicit cipher with evil men. During the first-act, that became evident, and so it maintains this mode as Lucien continues to enact his authority. In that sense,…

  • Vladimir and Rosa

    Vladimir and Rosa

    ★★

    In which the Dziga Vertov Group add their pseudo-intellectual lectures to the Chicago Eight trial. At least Wind from the East was partly watchable because it pivoted to a fun affection for Spaghetti Westerns. (Still couldn't stand its didactic voiceover on Marxist politics.) Whatever the case, it made me realize that I'm not fully immune to essayistic sermons about fighting a capitalist system. It's noble material without the megaphone.

    Most of the vignettes in this are close to mind-numbing, though.…

  • Capone

    Capone

    ★★½

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    Just a bizarre parody. Right from the intro Thanksgiving dinner as "Nessun Dorma" soars over Capone getting mud scrummed by kids. (For real, what is this!?) Though it improves with the ominous opening credits—a stealthy mix of overhead glides, lateral pans and push-ins, which maneuver toward the statues of his Palm Island estate. I thought it might've moved a tad smoother from there. Rarely the case.

    Despite its mauling, Trank's bio-drama sat in a strange mode for me. It is…