• Maestro

    Maestro

    ★★

    There are things to like here: gorgeous era-pastiching film photography, an ambitious and unusual memory structure I'd like to see more from biopics, and clear passion for the material. It's just a shame that Cooper's unexpectedly controlled, almost restrained instincts behind the camera are just nowhere to be found in front of it. Maybe if we had given him an Oscar for A Star is Born he wouldn't want it so bad and the two lead performances in this would…

  • Dune: Part Two

    Dune: Part Two

    ★★★★

    With all the effective medieval political intrigue and Greek tragedy table-setting of the first movie out of the way, Denis is free to make the muscular, military space opera Lawrence of Arabia meets The Last Temptation of Christ he was clearly itching to make—where Paul is both a naïve crazy ass white boy who falls in love with/learns the ways of the desert and becomes a guerilla revolutionary fighter against his own oppressive political class, but also a tortured messiah…

  • Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains

    Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains

    ★★★

    Kind of impressive to assemble a film shot by the legendary Bruce Surtees into something that comes across a bit sloppy and amateurish (not necessarily a bad thing for this material), but otherwise this is a pretty delightful and funny Vancouver-shot teen girl punk rocker industry drama. Diane Lane and Laura Dern make for a good combo of teen girls running away from their deadbeat homes for the allure of the stage, lights and make-up of even seedy bar shows…

  • Dead Again

    Dead Again

    ★★★

    Ludicrously twisty LA neo-noir script by Scott Frank filled with eccentric character detail and bizarrely organized around amnesia, hypnosis, reincarnation and a genuinely hilarious amount of scissor imagery/violence. As others have noted, this is the kind of thing that’s just begging for the neo-Hitchcockian stylistic excess of a De Palma to match its absurd energy, but honestly it settles well enough with Branagh whose penchant for self-serious operatics (and lack of tonal control of them) sort of works in the…

  • The Boss

    The Boss

    ★★★★

    Of the Di Leo Poliziotteschi's I've seen that combine the icy cool gangster hitman neo-noir + the gritty American vigilante cop revenge movie with full-on Italian grindhouse levels of vulgarity and violence, this is perhaps the nastiest one outside of Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man, where he passed off directing duty to Cannibal Holocaust's Ruggero Deodato. In some regions this movie was called Murder Inferno, and honestly, fair.

    As far more so than The Italian Connection this…

  • The Italian Connection

    The Italian Connection

    ★★★★

    Another mercilessly bleak and brutally violent mob revenge thriller from the God of the Italian Years of Lead Poliziotteschi, Fernando Di Leo.

    This one at first ostensibly pitching itself as a buddy crime caper between Henry Silva and Woody Strode as cool-as-hell American hitmen (in tight florals, bellbottoms and leather jackets) sent to Milan to publicly punish and assassinate a charming, low-level schlubby pimp named Luca Canali (played by a very intense and sweaty Mario Adorf, co-star of Di Leo's…

  • Fear Is the Key

    Fear Is the Key

    ★★★★

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    Will echo the common sentiment around this film which is that knowing as little as possible about it is the preferred way to experience it, as its absurd plot courtesy of Where Eagles Dare's Alistair MacLean forces it to switch pulp novel genre modes so quickly and recklessly it ties itself into various increasingly (yet enjoyably) twisty knots. In 100 minutes managing to do everything from dangerous Burt Reynolds style off-road Southern car chases (a 15-minute opener that somehow manages…

  • Breakheart Pass

    Breakheart Pass

    ★★★

    Murder on the Orient Express as a 1970s macho pulp western, with Charles Bronson as the Civil War-era Secret Service agent Hercule Poirot, who spends just as much time gunslinging and dropkicking dudes atop the moving train as he does solving the murder mystery. The governor gun-smuggling conspiracy paperback plot by Alistair MacLean is fine, but leaves less of an impression than the analog visual craftsmanship courtesy of legendary western and noir cinematographer Lucien Ballard (The Killing, The Wild Bunch,…

  • Malone

    Malone

    ★★★

    Went into this knowing that Burt was at the point in his career where he was trying to downplay the goofy charm and trying out the kind of stoic, violent revenge movies from this era you could imagine starring Charles Bronson. And in some ways this is that movie, especially when the dick kicks, shotgun squibs, and explosions go off. "Ex-cop. Ex-CIA. Ex-plosive!" definitely a new fav tagline.

    But I was a bit surprised by how slow and somber of…

  • The Judge

    The Judge

    ★★

    With Oppenheimer reminding everyone of what a talented actor Robert Downey Jr. can be, there were a lot of breathless threads about how he's actually been great during these last 10-15 years as well. No renaissance in sight here! He’s been doing work this good the whole time! Cited as evidence of this in one of those threads—it seemed by a Marvel fan offended at the implication that Tony Stark was included in people's assessment when they were suggesting that…

  • Layer Cake

    Layer Cake

    ★★★

    I love the old-school, stylishly made, tonally bleak and ruthless British gangster economy/hierarchy thrillers (you know, the kind that Michael Caine and Bob Hoskins used to do back in the day) so much that not even Matthew Vaughn can fuck it up for me. Don't know why he thought his bad taste for needle drops and "clever" humor (which thankfully only briefly pop up here) was what he needed to lean into, instead of Daniel Craig brooding about the ugly job of killing. This is why you never got a shot at a Bond film, mate.

  • Valkyrie

    Valkyrie

    ★★

    Me for 2 hours: jeez, I hope this plot to kill Hitler doesn't at any point go sideways for these good guy Nazis... Interesting to consider that all those great recent Mission Impossible sequels can be traced back to one movie...