• Nine Days

    Nine Days

    ★★★

    Not to be all guy-who-has-seen-Koreeda's-After-Life but when something cribs so openly (and so much!) from one of your favorite movies it's got a hill to climb that I don't think this fully does. Still liked this, driven by a wonderful score and a terrific final scene, but its cloying middle portion prevents this from really soaring. Soulful and moving performance from Duke in the kind of role you'd love to see him more readily have access to.

    A strong debut and the kind of thing that indicates lots of ability, I just hope Oda sets himself more apart from his influences in his next work.

  • Drive My Car

    Drive My Car

    ★★★★½

    I got a genuine adrenaline rush when the credits rolled 40 minutes in, just absolutely elite shit.

    It's difficult for me to properly articulate it, but there's something about the rigidity of a confined physical space like a car that makes for a boilerplate of emotion. One of the reasons I always find it particularly affecting when Japanese filmmakers grapple with the heavy weight of loss is the natural tension that comes with a culture dominated by the suppression of…

  • Bergman Island

    Bergman Island

    ★★★★

    Enough of a Bergman fan to know that I'm no expert and missing a lot of the true magic that no doubt comes if you're a real student of his work. Crazy to say this is my first Hansen-Løve, and the sense that I already get is that while it's got deeper ideas worth digging into, its surface pleasures bear more than enough fruit to make a fun and effortless watch regardless. Just lovely, and I admire the way its esoteric nature gives way to wonderful moments of human connection. ABBA and Mia Wasikowska bringing joy to cinema isn't something you wanna miss

  • Wife of a Spy

    Wife of a Spy

    ★★★★

    Terrific kind of throwback dramatic thriller that feels like the kinds Japan made in the middle of the 20th century. There's a disquieting calm in even the most tense moments that for me imbued this with a nervy, when-will-it-go-wrong feeling I was captivated by. It almost lulls you with the digital smoothness and the plastic looking sheen, which obscures how scary the situations really are.

    All about the absence of control, and the inability to steer the wheel of one's…

  • Riders of Justice

    Riders of Justice

    ★★★★

    I can already picture the American remake of this beat for beat in my mind, and what I see are two things:
    1. It's probably gonna blow chunks (and likely star Liam Neeson?).
    2. Paul Walter Hauser is gonna annihilate the Emmenthaler role and probably make my supporting actor ballot.

    A lot more soulful than I expected going in, a bracing rumination on masculine responses to extreme trauma. Mikkelsen is so good at this kind of role where you just…

  • Crocodile Dundee II

    Crocodile Dundee II

    Unconscionably boring, to a degree that seriously surprised me even with astronomically low expectations. A sequel that misunderstands each and everything that made the original film memorable and (semi) interesting. My man Charles Dutton lookin real good in this and the dynamite fishing are perhaps the only even remotely nice things that occur in some of the longest 110 minutes of my life. Never ever ever again

  • Titane

    Titane

    ★★★

    So thoroughly respect and admire the swing but ultimately its tonal highwire act lost me on the transition between its front and back half. To begin with this glitzy, in your face style and then try to like emotionally gearshift into melancholy is a needle I don't think Ducournau quite threads. It surrenders a little too quickly to its influences, a lot of its flashy moves feeling like provocative skins thrown onto familiar visual metaphors that feel more on the…

  • Being the Ricardos

    Being the Ricardos

    ★★

    Sorkin calling in (the apparently heroic?) J. Edgar Hoover to get the save in this is on par with Kevin Cash pulling Blake Snell in the 6th inning of the 2020 World Series in terms of horrible end-of-game management.

    The most confounding narrative structure I've seen in some time. Fully robs the Lucy/Desi scenes of any dramatic tension, disrupting the momentum of the storytelling all the while really adding nothing except nonsensical context? It's not even particularly poorly performed. Problem…

  • The Lost Daughter

    The Lost Daughter

    Admirably ugly morally and in turn equally beautifully performed. The thing keeping it from fully connecting for me is that its metaphors and ideas become a bit too recursive, a lot of them circle the same ideas without a new angle on them. The rotting and decaying, the wave of the past bowling you over. The approach to disorienting the viewer in particular I think got tiresome, if it had instead pivoted to a real sense of mystery or conversely…

  • The Card Counter

    The Card Counter

    In a just world, Oscar Isaac would be firmly planted in the Best Actor race. His command of this specific brand of self-inflicted stoicism as a response to the horrors of his past is astounding. It enhances it that you know he has so much natural charisma that he suppresses so easily, dialing it back up for short bursts to inject more liveliness into the movie. The heavy undercurrent of his character does to an extent belie that the movie really is mostly very entertaining on a base level.

  • L'Argent

    L'Argent

    ★★★★

    Bresson whittles all of his idea to their most brutal bases. It's not about big evocations of the evils and perils of money, it's all behavioral. What its absence or sudden presence drives people to do. Who we become when that possibility of a quick buck presents itself, or the ways we betray out own morality when monetary desperation sets in. What's so alarming is how quickly this one forged bill infects all of these Parisian citizens.

    So interesting how…

  • The Power of the Dog

    The Power of the Dog

    ★★★★

    After sitting with it for a while, this film (like its enigmatic figure Bronco Henry) has etched itself into a part of my mind and refused to let go. There remains something a bit elusive about it- its social mores are constantly shifting, reshaping power dynamics on the fly as so much remains alluded to but mostly unspoken. In a lot of ways about what we are willing to sacrifice to be near someone, and how much we're willing to…