• A Tale of Two Sisters

    A Tale of Two Sisters

    ★★★★

    A very pretty, heartbreaking story of domestic disputes and personal tragedy hidden underneath a fun haunted house amusement attraction full of adrenaline-coursing shocks and intense, anxiety-inducing sequences. The film balances genuine horror with beautiful design very well. It is both disturbing and melancholic, with its use of swelling, classical scoring over cold-hued gothic decorations one minute, to its suffocating darkness and gore overpowered by harsh, discordant tones and violent brass another. A uniquely Korean piece of horror cinema, carried exceedingly well by the production design and the effectiveness of all three principal actresses.

  • The Clowns

    The Clowns

    ★★★½

    The Clowns is an endearing, offbeat made-for-TV film from the second half of Federico Fellini's film catalog. This oddity was excluded from Criterion's Essential Fellini box set, so I had to order a copy from Kino's Raro Video series. The transfer and restoration by Kino is very lovely, and all the colors and details of the film pop gorgeously off the screen. It's the director's tribute and study of clowns, an ancient art form to which his unique aesthetic is…

  • Mikey and Nicky

    Mikey and Nicky

    ★★★½

    Mikey and Nicky is a stylish crime drama that takes place throughout a single night. The plotting is simple, but the characters, their actions, and their relationships towards themselves and the people around them feature a complexity that’s rich and novel-like. Cassavettes and Falk work brilliantly against one another, fully embodying the sleaziness and belligerence of their New York wise guy rolls.

  • Il Bidone

    Il Bidone

    ★★★★½

    Fellini follows a gang of grifters as they go from one impoverished village after another, swindling innocent people of everything they have. This is probably Fellini at his most morally bleak. And what captivating cinema it makes! Il Bidone features numerous poignant scenes of the characters facing their demons, questioning their values, and accepting their fates as the bad men that they are. But like any great film, it does not take any easy stances. We are meant to sympathize…

  • Spirits of the Dead

    Spirits of the Dead

    ★★★

    Spirits of the Dead is an anthology of three short films, each one based on a story by Edgar Allan Poe. In brief, the first two shorts are essentially pointless, but the stylish, inventive third film redeems the project.

    The first film stars Jane Fonda. It is directed by Roger Vadim, who famously directed her in Barbarella. I have not yet seen that film, but I am very aware of its reputation. The entire entertainment value of the short relies…

  • Capernaum

    Capernaum

    ★★★★★

    Capernaum is a difficult, gut-wrenching work that explores the most destitute of poverty through a child's eyes. It exhibits a miserable existence of which people in the first world are far too unaware. Shot in a handheld, documentary-style, it captures the reality of the young protagonist’s life with astonishing naturalism and verisimilitude.

    This Lebanese film is directed with emotional directness. Watching it, you will not believe that the two young lead actors (one of them a baby) aren’t professionals because…

  • The Street Fighter

    The Street Fighter

    ★★★½

    The plot surrounding this martial arts classic is nothing special. It’s your typical boilerplate story about an overpowered fighter coming up against endless waves of nameless baddies while 70s bass stingers transition us from one scene to the next, with a helpful serving of Leone style close-ups and dramatically dutched angles. That said, the action itself is exhilarating, and Sonny Chiba stands out from other martial arts movie icons like Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Gordon Liu. First and foremost is…

  • Not Quite Human

    Not Quite Human

    ★★

    This is a Disney Channel original movie from the 80s. It follows a brilliant scientist/white bread suburban dad who creates a lifelike humanoid robot that resembles a 17-year old boy. The robot’s name is Chip. The inventor sends Chip to school with his daughter, trying to keep him safe from evil businessmen trying to reprogram him for violence. Hijinx ensues. Sort of. For all the comedic potential of the silly premise, much is left untapped. Typical robot jokes of overly-literal…

  • The Gleaners and I

    The Gleaners and I

    ★★★★½

    The Gleaners and I studies people who scrape, thrift, and harvest the discarded things in life: grains, grapes, antiques, trinkets, etc. It explores the depths of its subject matter to every nook and cranny. It raises thought-provoking questions about the wastefulness of industrial society and the resourcefulness of the human spirit. It also features some of the most giant potatoes I’ve ever seen.

    Many films by these (mostly male) auteurs regarded as the greatest tend to create movies with a…

  • The Squid and the Whale

    The Squid and the Whale

    ★★★★

    It’s excellent on the rewatch. I picked up on many of the quieter, less apparent jokes I missed out on the first viewing. The performances are so natural and real and affecting. All across the board: Laura Linney, Jeff Daniels, and Jesse Eisenberg, they work together so beautifully to make this domestic comedy-drama come to life. Noah Baumbach’s screenplay abilities are so sharp and subtle. He doesn’t have to exaggerate anything to make the humor land. It’s very confident, self-assured, and insightful writing.


     I can’t decide if I like this one or France Ha better. They are both extraordinary works of low-budget indie filmmaking.

  • The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart

    The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart

    ★★★

    Uplifting little nostalgia trip😊

  • De Palma

    De Palma

    ★★★★★

    I think I'm at a point in my movie-watching journey where I enjoy watching movie tributes and montages more than watching full movies themselves. There's something stimulating and exciting about seeing movie clips removed from their feature-length context and distilled to pieces of pure visual poetry. Plot and character can be so distracting to the things that make this artform so special.

    There are few directors whose entire career trajectory can make for constant stitching of incredible image after incredible…