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Scott has written 18 reviews for films rated ★★★★ .

  • Paradise: Love

    Paradise: Love

    ★★★★

    A movie called Paradise anything from a scolding formalist like Ulrich Seidl is bound to be as proportionally miserablist as a movie called Happiness by Todd Solondz. And while, indeed, Seidl's tale of a desperately lonely fiftysomething Austrian woman visiting Kenya as a sex tourist is as brutal as it sounds, I was pleased by how much compassion Seidl extends both to the heroine and the desperate men with whom she cavorts—even though all parties are exploiting one another to…

  • The Hunt

    The Hunt

    ★★★★

    Or Vinterberg's The Wrong Man. As with Hitchcock, Vinterberg plays this story of a man falsely accused completely straight. No frills. It's plain from the start that he hasn't done anything inappropriate with a kindergarten-aged girl, so we squirm along with him as the charge sticks and nearly everyone in his life turns their back on him. The Hunt cannot help seeming rigged to a degree, but every development (the girl's confusion, the leading questions by the school administrator and…

  • Drug War

    Drug War

    ★★★★

    Impeccably stylized action film from the To, distinguishes itself through a sympathetic view of condemned man who helps the police with his life on the line. Ending casts a chill.

  • This Is the End

    This Is the End

    ★★★★

    My awed reaction to this shambling apocalypse comedy is no doubt colored by the fact that it's an oasis in a summer of bloated, joyless, machine-built blockbusters. While there no avoiding term like "self-indulgent" to describe Seth Rogen and his Hollywood friends (all using real names) fending off the apocalypse, something cannot be self-indulgent without also being personal. Rogen and co. quite sincerely reckon with their lifestyle—if not the sin part, then certainly the way it affects their friendships—while also going way out on a limb for laughs (Danny McBride's semen monologue is something else) or end-of-the-world mayhem. Suggested double feature: Post Tenebras Lux.

  • Frances Ha

    Frances Ha

    ★★★★

    Second viewing affirmed my first impression (which is good, since I'm blurbed on the poster). To wit: Frances Ha makes deft, uproarious comedy out of her many changes of address and the social miscues that account for about half of them. With Gerwig on board as co-writer and star, Baumbach dials back the abrasiveness of previous films like The Squid And The Whale, Margot At The Wedding, and Greenberg—not to say that abrasiveness was a problem, mind—and tailors the film…

  • Frances Ha

    Frances Ha

    ★★★★

    "A deft, uproarious comedy" —Scott Tobias, The A.V. Club

    TIFF '12 capsule here. Excerpt:

    "Frances Ha makes deft, uproarious comedy out of her many changes of address and the social miscues that account for about half of them. With Gerwig on board as co-writer and star, Baumbach dials back the abrasiveness of previous films like The Squid And The Whale, Margot At The Wedding, and Greenberg—not to say that abrasiveness was a problem, mind—and tailors the film entirely to Gerwig’s…

  • Scarlet Street

    Scarlet Street

    ★★★★

    Though too densely plotted, Lang's noir melodrama is psychologically knotty as a result, with a sadsack protagonist in Edward G. Robinson's cashier/painter whose inner torment inspires a heightening of tension and style as the film unfolds. Ending is wonderfully batshit, like a nightmare that cannot be extinguished, even by death.

  • Post Tenebras Lux

    Post Tenebras Lux

    ★★★★

    NPR review posted here. I revised my opinion slightly downward since TIFF, but I still find this a fascinating enigma. Excerpt:

    In Post Tenebras Lux (Latin translation: "After darkness, light"), the family drama provides a crucial ballast for a film that swirls with impressionistic touches; it helps Reygadas hold his strange discordant notes mostly in balance. Mostly, but not entirely: It's as if Reygadas started with a sprawling cache of visual ideas and then tried to find some way to…

  • Girl Model

    Girl Model

    ★★★★

    Gaaaaah!!! I wrote an essay a couple of months ago complaining about activist documentaries that put agenda before form. Girl Model is an excellent example of how to do activism right: The filmmakers allow the truly horrifying world of teenage modeling-- at least as it applies to Russian models in Japan-- to reveal itself through the journey of a 13-year-old (15, if anybody asks) as she travels to Tokyo, where agencies are always on the lookout for (very) young, fresh…

  • Hemel

    Hemel

    ★★★★

    My very last review of any kind for The A.V. Club. Full piece here. Excerpt:

    "Sacha Polak’s Hemel pulls off the classic Euroart bait-and-switch: Come for the wall-to-wall nudity, stay for the agonized portrait of loneliness and the fruitless quest for true intimacy. The most obvious point of comparison for Hemel is Steve McQueen’s Shame, another story of a joyless drift from bed to bed and one sexual extreme to another. But Hemel doesn’t fly under a banner as broad…

  • To the Wonder

    To the Wonder

    ★★★★

    Long-form review (my last) posted at A.V. Club today. Excerpt:

    "And yet, as gorgeous as To The Wonder is, Malick again turns his attention to humans—“characters” is a stretch to describe the abstract creations here—who can’t find spiritual sustenance in all this useless beauty. His views on love and marriage have less to do with how compatible two people are with each other than how they choose to interact with the world around them. Malick made that explicit in The…

  • The Holy Mountain

    The Holy Mountain

    ★★★★

    Wrote this up for Watch This. An excerpt:

    "There are times when Jodorowsky’s visionary impulse leads to weird-for-its-own-sake cult-movie fodder, but The Holy Mountain more often has a satirical bite, with a sinner’s contempt for the church and a rebel’s distrust of authority. Seen today, it functions as a wondrous time machine, transporting viewers back to a day when movies (and audiences) were up for anything."