pablocatepetl has written 39 reviews for films rated ★★★★½ .

  • From Jesus to Christ: The First Christians

    From Jesus to Christ: The First Christians

    ★★★★½

    I haven't been in the mood to analyze movies lately, so just bingeing Frontline documentaries. This one is very cool—a fascinating exploration of Christianity’s journey from a fringe Jewish sect to global faith. It shows how the view of Jesus evolved from a mysterious parable-speaking motivational speaker to an incredible prophecy-bringing miracle worker. I especially liked the part where they explain the differences between all the gospels and how they were all written as reflections of their author’s society and prevailing sentiments. It makes you appreciate how cleverly keyed into accuracy Monty Python’s Life of Brian was.

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • Downfall

    Downfall

    ★★★★½

    Downfall is an excellent dramatization of the fall of the Third Reich. Bruno Ganz’s intelligent, realistic portrayal of Hitler is one of the most startling transformations of an actor into a historical figure, up there with Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln and Sir Ben Kingsley as Gandhi. Ganz beautifully plays a cruel selfish tyrant, blinded by hubris, as his empire crumbles and his citizens needlessly suffer. Included as an emotional, sympathetic anchor to the Nazi-infested world of the film is Alexandra…

  • Amarcord

    Amarcord

    ★★★★½

    I’m impressed at how Fellini was able to sustain my attention across the 2-hour runtime of this film, seeing as how it’s all a series of disparate vignettes. Much like a Robert Altman film, Amarcord is an ensemble piece in which a large cast of actors has assembled to live out the director’s nostalgia on film. With no central character to latch onto, I sort of emotionally zone out from these sorts of movies, but Fellini’s visual craftwork is so splendid…

  • The Empire Strikes Back

    The Empire Strikes Back

    ★★★★½

    As a very casual fan of the franchise, I wanted to revisit the gem of the series to remember why this series is so beloved. I wanted to revisit and remember what a classic Star Wars film feels like. The thing that makes Empire Strikes Back work is not so much the story, but the film craftsmanship. Beautiful set designs, exciting effects, and simply written archetypal characters with easily understood motivations. It doesn’t try to be anything more than a…

  • Diabolique

    Diabolique

    ★★★★½

    This is a magnificently-plotted film. The filmmaking is subtle and spare. Like another classic French film Rififi, Les Diaboliques also starts off a bit slow, but once it gets going, it really gets going. An Edgar Allan Poe style story of suspense. You will enjoy it if you like well written crime movies.

  • Mephisto

    Mephisto

    ★★★★½

    Tells the story of a brilliant, highly-sought actor rising to fame and international acclaim during the rise of Nazism in Germany. Over the course of the film, the gifted actor must question his moral inventory and his artistic ambitions, as the two butt heads in his mind, resulting in some truly devastating consequences.

    What drives the power of the film is the absolutely incredible lead performance by Klaus Maria Brandauer. In practically every scene, Brandauer puts on an acting masterclass, demonstrating…

  • The Rider

    The Rider

    ★★★★½

    Few films so elegantly portray the very magical, spiritual bond that exists between man and beast as this one does. Everything about it is so authentic and honest, there isn’t a hint of pretentiousness in the DNA of this film. Just empathetic storytelling and a beautiful tribute to an overlooked facet of American culture. It’s all about finding the strength and resolve to wake up another day amidst struggle and strife.


    ***Just looked at my original diary entry for this film, and it would appear I’ve inadvertently written the same review twice 😫

  • The Pervert's Guide to Cinema

    The Pervert's Guide to Cinema

    ★★★★½

    I have a sort of complicated relationship with philosophy/critical theory and its application to cinema. As someone who still possesses a childish fascination with ‘the magic of the movies,’ a part of me just wants to sit back and enjoy the spectacle and the craft of a movie—to let myself just be entertained and not have to consider the sociopolitical ramifications of the story being told. I feel as though critical theory, with its collegiate-ness and institutionalism, over intellectualizes what…

  • Town Bloody Hall

    Town Bloody Hall

    ★★★★½

    A very entertaining documentary. Presents a contentious political debate surrounding the women’s liberation movement in the early 1970s, immortalized with that same raw, kinetic, handheld 16mm photography that Pennebaker famously used to capture a young Bob Dylan in Dont Look Back. Here the iconoclast of focus is the author Norman Mailer and his discussion with four prominent women writers, critics, poets and activists. That’s how it’s described at least, but as the film progresses and the debate simmers, it becomes…

  • Machuca

    Machuca

    ★★★★½

    A beautiful, elegiac rendering of a truly traumatic moment in 20th century Latin American history. The film concerns the exploits of two schoolboys: one upper class, the other working-class, as they become unlikely friends in the months leading up to Pinochet’s violent U.S.-backed coup of the Chilean government. Oftentimes I am very wary of films in this genre, the ‘coming of age in a conflict zone’ genre. It lends itself a lot to overly-produced and flacidly realized cinematic duds that…