• House

    House

    ★★★★

    Had we unapologetically postured around silent era principles instead of dropping them completely after film-noir's classic period, films like House wouldn't be as brazen to us. This really is a beautiful alternate-reality-like meshing of prior era scare tactics and modern day cinematic experiments.

    Nobuhiko Obayashi was a commercial director prior to this feature-length debut, and that seems evident both in its extreme over-stylization and its absolute disregard for structure on a grand scale. Time feels fleeting and each moment is…

  • Climax

    Climax

    ★★★½

    Mechanical, confrontational delusions from one of modern cinema's most controversial filmmakers.

    It's hard to be afraid of the nightmares of a director so mortified by goofy urban legends fueled by his own neurotic shots in the dark, but I won't act like Noé's childish collection of horrors clashing with one another isn't morbidly, wickedly engaging. And Benoît Debie's work is as gorgeous as always.

    The sounds of neighbors having violent sex bleeding into the night terrors of a sexless teenager still worried about the Great Replacement theory.

    Truly hellish, incredibly tasteless, and a little dorky.

  • The Long Gray Line

    The Long Gray Line

    ★★★★★

    Another extraordinary and strangely ignored John Ford film. The most vivid sense of a scrapbook-filling community and inherited local personality of perhaps any director working in the U.S. at the time. Establishing a rich sense of history, tradition, and pride in a runtime just shy of 2 hours 20 minutes, not out of a sense of obligation, but out of some greater collective beauty. And even if you think that's dumb; sometimes I think it's dumb... a nostalgia for the…

  • Liar

    Liar

    ★★★½

    It might be painfully on-the-nose, but it's quite beautifully made regardless. I love these harsh, abrupt cuts and soft grainy colors. The staging is clever, camera movement is clean and comfortable, and the performances find a sharp middle-ground between awkwardness and expressiveness. What could have been an ugly PSA aesthetic becomes something mindful and atmospheric, more akin to a faithful French New Wave retread.

  • A Common Crime

    A Common Crime

    ★★★★

    Deeply unnerving and understated, refusing to fall into interpretation comfortably. An extraordinary performance from Elisa Carricajo (La Flor, Extraordinary Stories) to match.

    An absolute mess to make sense of, only existing in mundane droning chaos. A freakishly confrontational and cryptic ending just makes everything feel even more like a black hole. Like the ending of Larisa Shepitko's Wings if it were aimed in the opposite direction.

    Subtle, vicious storytelling.

  • Theatre of Blood

    Theatre of Blood

    ★★★

    Brilliantly performed, though it can't quite muster up the absurdity and delusion in its style as it does with its cast. At times it can even feel a bit miserable in its literal play-by-play rhythm. The creativity is rather stunted in that respect, building up its own context in a way that's neither satisfying nor all that ridiculous... besides a couple of costumes or a specific concept or two. The confidence of its own coincidences feels half-committed and not even…

  • Loves of a Blonde

    Loves of a Blonde

    ★★★★½

    A brilliantly musical rhythm with a humble real-world atmosphere and complexity between its sharp sense of humor. A more biting and bittersweet take on what directors like Michel Brault were doing across the globe around the same time, and yet similarly emotional and poignant beyond absurdity in observation. A sort of dignity found in imperfections and honesty.

    Even in a structure of fools, the empathy afforded by Miloš Forman is beyond extraordinary.

  • The Far Country

    The Far Country

    ★★★★½

    James Stewart as a more vulnerable and stand-offish hero rather than immediately stoic and confident. A more complicated practice and discovery of heroism that places itself opposite of where an actor like John Wayne would be around this point in his career. The biggest similarities between the two are either much more hesitant with Stewart, or actual flaws that can be addressed.

    Ruth Roman and John McIntire are equally incredible in their own ways. Roman is more certainly set in…

  • Husbands and Wives

    Husbands and Wives

    ★★★★★

    I can't say I fully get why, in an effort to denounce Woody Allen for the allegations levied against him, there is this popular narrative, even among people I trust and respect, to say that he was a mediocre artist this entire time. The condemnation of a person comes a lot quicker when this secret fact is revealed, apparently.

    On the other hand, I do completely understand why people are quicker to boycott or denounce the art of Allen compared…

  • Citizen Kane

    Citizen Kane

    ★★★★★

    Like greed's own post-apocalypse set to large, empty, echoing rooms of lost grandeur painted by arching shadows and empty vacuums of success. A fuming yet empathetic character study that still refuses any sense of sentimentality that isn't destined for tragedy.

    Uncompromising and far beyond its era. Those who clock out early might be under some assumption that Citizen Kane is only admired for being the first in something or other, or they think the lengthy newsreel that opens the film…

  • Harvest

    Harvest

    ★★★★

    While farmland and food production cinema is better remembered for the frantic quantities seen with the Soviets, Harvest is practically a polar opposite. Gently sweeping, softly setting colors, deeply nostalgic and sentimental. Most of all, it is absolutely gorgeous. Lovingly paced and patient with the process and the angles for which we remember it by.

    One of the more notoriously obscure and difficult-to-find Oscar nominees (in a major category), Harvest is to most people a part of some completionist project…

  • Duvidha

    Duvidha

    ★★★★½

    Grace captured in a rhythm of motion and stillness, alternating between abstract sequences and piecing use of still images. An eerie sort of emptiness has Duvidha's narrative morph more into a haunted state of mind carried by the rhythm of its edit and the recurring use of sparse-sounding folk music.

    For a film so understated and so minimal, Duvidha is a devastating example of supernatural storytelling. It carries the heavy weight of tragedy with the simplest and sharpest of gestures.