• Murder at the Vanities

    Murder at the Vanities

    ★★★

    Some truly essential pre-code scenes (including a marijuana ballad) and some things I didn't like.

  • Blue Vengeance

    Blue Vengeance

    ★★★½

    Uneven, particularly in the second half, but loaded with quirky colorful NY grime and some good performances.

  • Deadbeat at Dawn

    Deadbeat at Dawn

    ★★★★

    Missed the first half hour but this is pretty unique and has an extreme energy

  • Fear Street: 1994

    Fear Street: 1994

    I thought i had sufficiently low expectations but this is fucking miserable...loud score (the needle drops were clumsy but didn't bother me), boring lore, too much yelling, bad pacing, zero buildup of suspense, no chemistry between the characters--just extremely tedious in every way. Worse than AHS 1984. The young cast is pretty good but they can't save it. The gay representation feels rote and contractually obligated (i.e. should be more gay). So many people making slashers today don't have the slightest understanding of what is potentially fun or interesting about the genre. If you want to watch netflix teen horror, try Sabrina instead.

  • Mobile Suit Gundam I

    Mobile Suit Gundam I

    ★★★★

    Beautiful animation. Without any prologue it plunges the viewer into a big rambling war story that is I think a recap of the first season of the tv show. I like this choppy, breathless approach because all the characters, from the teen hero to the big shots, are portrayed as tiny helpless players in a war that is being carried along by forces beyond their control. Whether they themselves are cruel or brave or pompous or kind, the outcome is still endless war.

  • Summer of Soul (...or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)

    Summer of Soul (...or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)

    ★★★★½

    Ok, there may be some issues with framing and I would've cut about a quarter of the interview clips to let the music shine through a bit more, but overall this is an incredible document of what was probably the best music festival of its era. A lot is packed into 2 hours. The uniform quality of the performances, the sound and crisp video is remarkable. Hard to pick highlights but Mahalia Jackson, the Staple Singers, the Fifth Dimension and…

  • Cruising

    Cruising

    ★★★

    A bit slow and tepid considering its reputation. The very grounded direction and minimal script seem to be at odds with what the film wants to be. Maybe a victim of censorship—it’s really too bad so much footage was destroyed. Still it’s nicely shot and I was surprised by Pacino’s performance. Great soundtrack. Essential pseudo-document of the era. That interrogation scene (how is it not a standard reaction gif?). I already feel like it might fare better on a rewatch...perhaps making a film that is supposedly so explicit feel so repressed is the point Friedkin had in mind.

  • Ice

    Ice

    ★★★★½

    This feels nothing like propaganda--brutally honest and relevant. I was really struck by the fact that for all the talk of intersectionality etc (including in writing about this film), the left today appears to be even more splintered than in 1969--bereft of leadership, discipline, or even a basic shared notion of how progress might be achieved. It's not surprising, as we're seeing the first emergent post-Cold War left in the US after 40 years in the wilderness, but it's striking. Armed struggle at the meager level of organization imagined in this film--which appears to be headed for disaster--is unimaginable today.

  • The Little Mermaid

    The Little Mermaid

    ★½

    When I was a kid, I didn't like this film because I thought it was about turning normal. As an adult, it seems too convoluted to form an opinion about whether it contains any kind of lesson for children beyond "follow your heart". I don't like the uneven animation (it often has a cheap Saturday morning look), annoying characters, or the rushed sloppy storytelling. All the disney movies from the era have weirdly empty settings. They didn't have much of…

  • Crossfire

    Crossfire

    ★★★

    I like how the characters move around the city like they're stuck in some vast square dance stretched over a sleepless night. It's almost funny when, after his big anti-discrimination speech, the detective shrugs off shooting an unarmed guy in the back.

  • The Gambler

    The Gambler

    ★★★

    this is pretty great until the deranged racist skit at the end--a scene that might have worked in an exploitation film but is painful here

  • A Quiet Place in the Country

    A Quiet Place in the Country

    ★★★★½

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

    I thought this was going off the rails, but it lands the ending with a brilliant repurposing of 60s horror tropes. What appears to be a pastoral ghost story / proto-giallo-era version of The Shining turns into a dark satire of the codependent relationship of artists (or the kind of artist who leans into impulses that might at first be performative--antisocial behavior, violence, sexual obsession, etc--and ends in real madness) and capitalism. All of the self-indulgence of the artist (chasing…