• Bad Girls Go to Hell

    Bad Girls Go to Hell


    A lean, terrifying exploitation film directed by Doris Wishman that swirls with urban paranoia and sexual tension and eerily anonymous jazz on the soundtrack, following its protagonist down a nightmarish rabbithole that grows increasingly heated and surreal. The film is so effective at portraying this unsettling atmosphere — and so compelling because of it — that every offbeat or wrong choice Wishman makes seems intentional. Whether it actually is intentional or not is, perhaps, beside the point.

  • Cocaine Bear

    Cocaine Bear


    I got a few chuckles out of the set-up and the bursts of comic violence, but on the whole this is painfully underwritten and features some of the most incompetent filmmaking I’ve ever seen. RIP Ray Liotta.

  • The Woman on the Beach

    The Woman on the Beach


    “Did it ever occur to you that to me you’ll always be young and beautiful?” An incredible portrait of romantic and artistic suffering. Renoir comes by the cerebral, ethereal terror of the scenario more honestly than similar, more acclaimed films in the genre, like Hitchcock’s Spellbound or Nightmare Alley.

  • Nude on the Moon

    Nude on the Moon


    Does what it says on the tin. I like how Doris Wishman’s vision of a nudist utopia is not exploitative and instead just utterly serene: every movement and line of dialogue moves at a hilariously relaxed pace. Wishman’s timing, line readings, and vibrant colors are so naturally weird that it doesn’t take much for her to turn a piece of Miami into a convincing alien world.

  • Artists & Models

    Artists & Models


    Like a lot of Paramount comedies of the period, this is zippy and packed with lower-tier stars to distract from the way it barely makes sense. But when you have Raoul Walsh directing what’s essentially a glorified variety show, you’re bound to have a pretty good time. This one has several amusing sketches, including a scene where Jack Benny riffs with Rube Goldberg and other popular cartoonists of the era, and the musical numbers are surprisingly legitimate. The film includes…

  • Death Wish II

    Death Wish II


    More honest about its intentions than the first Death Wish, which means it’s about as reprehensible but also consistently more entertaining. Michael Winner’s portrayal of the rapists in the Death Wish films as, essentially, jumpy cartoon characters is his most troubling contribution to cinema. But Winner’s horrors have an unusual gravitational pull, and it is very funny to see stoic Charles Bronson wander around this hellworld where he can’t even buy an ice cream cone without getting attacked.

  • Tale of Cinema

    Tale of Cinema


    The most self-reflexive and self-aware Hong film up to this point, it folds in on itself to become about a film-within-the-film, revealing all of the limitations inherent in this kind of small-scale, personal storytelling. A sequence where the main character is told he didn’t understand the film he just watched — one that he believes to be about his own life experiences — is just brutal.

  • Me and My Gal

    Me and My Gal


    Raoul Walsh’s greatest comedy, greatest romance, AND greatest crime movie.

  • Woman Is the Future of Man

    Woman Is the Future of Man


    I’ve seen some people suggest that this is a bit of a regression in Hong’s filmography, going back to simple cruelty while his previous couple of films were more nuanced. This is true to an extent, but I think Hong is pretty entertaining when he’s caustic and bitter, and anyway the target of his ire seems to primarily be himself and people of his ilk, and I like films that are possessed by a level of self-loathing.

  • Branded to Kill

    Branded to Kill


    Total stylistic anarchy: dark comedy meets existential horror meets cutthroat action. Suzuki’s cartoonish energy was rarely put to better, more expressive ends.

  • An Unmarried Woman

    An Unmarried Woman


    Jill Clayburgh is truly excellent in this but, with the exception of small and unexpected moments like a spontaneous duet of "Maybe I'm Amazed," Paul Mazursky's attempt at lived-in authenticity is undermined by the way most of this seems over-determined and over-written.

  • Brother and Sister

    Brother and Sister


    I appreciate Arnaud Desplechin’s commitment to always wallowing in the murk. This drama about a pair of siblings and their intense hatred of one another is misshapen, frequently awkward, taken with bouts of uneasy whimsy, hemmed in by the feeling that its main characters' animosity is never sufficiently explained or justified. But the film has moments of pure truth and feels alive in ways that Desplechin musters at his best; certain line-readings and close-ups and glances convey a deep pain that goes beyond the myriad narrative or formal deficiencies this has.