• The Earrings of Madame de...

    The Earrings of Madame de...


    Perhaps I noticed the contrast simply because I had watched Robert Bresson’s L’ARGENT for the first time last month, but the comparisons between what’s essentially Max Ophüls’ D’OREILLES (officially THE EARRINGS OF MADAME DE…) offers a glimpse on the stark differences between the two works. Both have a distinct European sensibility (albeit the former with post-’68 Marxism against the latter’s La Belle Époque nobility) and both elicit the effects of the titular object as it moves from person to person.…

  • Sawdust and Tinsel

    Sawdust and Tinsel


    All my years of watching Ingmar Bergman’s films did not prepare me for SAWDUST AND TINSEL, with its bombastic barrage of expressionist images and freewheeling depiction of circus life. The film came out early enough in the director’s career that scenes are not drowned out by dreary philosophical monologues but instead punch with the power of their gnarly visuals. Puddles are disturbed by feet and rain. A face glistens with sweat and another balloons with a Cheshire Cat grin. There…

  • The Matrix Reloaded

    The Matrix Reloaded


    The Matrix franchise, it turns out, is something like the Matrix itself – forever veering towards a crash-and-reboot process. The series' second entry, THE MATRIX RELOADED, gurgles from the philosophical fountain that was the first entry. It’s not about red pill, blue pill anymore but about the choice between saving the Matrix or saving Trinity. The onion has been peeled and it’s just another layer of onion. Neo, the Architect asserts, is simply a server daemon meant to wake up…

  • Mission: Impossible

    Mission: Impossible


    Prior to watching the 1996 original, my experience with the Mission: Impossible movies came solely from McQuarrie's set piece extravaganzas. So in a way I was ready to get my socks blown off from another round of "what death-defying stunts did Tom Cruise do this time?" The stunts in this film, it turns out, are humble in comparison to those attempted in the later entries. There are still noteworthy set pieces (Prague and Langley) that set the blueprint for the…

  • Pickup on South Street

    Pickup on South Street


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

    This is one of those rare films where every character seems to live and bleed with their own struggles, desires, and even philosophies on life. Something is not quite real about the world they inhabit, but only because of how cool all the characters are. Most of the reviews of PICKUP ON SOUTH STREET justifiably highlight Thelma Ritter’s scene-stealing performance as Moe the stoolie, but who can forget the minute-long inclusion of one scenery chewing Lightning “char siu bao” Louie?…

  • Day of Wrath

    Day of Wrath


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

    DAY OF WRATH refers to the title of the dirge that is sung in an early scene, as an old woman is tied to a stake and tossed into a fire. She was convicted of witchcraft, and the ritualized process of her trial (where she was tortured to denounce others) and execution (dirge-singing choir boys at the ready) lets the audience know that there is no doubt that execution by burning is an option that the townsfolk are not afraid…

  • The Day of the Jackal

    The Day of the Jackal


    Another slick and focused political thriller, the meat and potatoes of 1970s cinema, THE DAY OF THE JACKAL depicts an attempted assassination of French president Charles de Gaulle. The movie has a European point of view and grants as much screen time to the calculated movement of the assassin as it does the government officials tasked with bringing him down. Edward Fox portrays the titular assassin (codenamed "Jackal") with an air of posh suavity which belies a ruthlessness revealed only…

  • Corpse Bride

    Corpse Bride


    Some time ago, I had mentally filed Tim Burton's films into the same realm as works like CORALINE or THE WITCHES. These are macabre tales that are simple enough for children to follow, but so casually detailed in their depiction of the unfathomable that generations were left mentally scarred. Perhaps I was a bit hasty in my judgment, as CORPSE BRIDE offers more whimsy, e.g. jazzy skeleton dance number!, than anything actually nightmarish. Even the NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD…

  • The Quiet Man

    The Quiet Man


    This is John Ford’s boisterous ode to Ireland’s rolling hills and fiery redheads, and Ford transplants his mythical image-crafting to the beauty of the Emerald Isle. Viewers will witness Maureen O’Hara shepherding whilst barefoot in the grass, a preacher man battling the elusive salmon of the river, and Victor McLaglen spitting out a loose tooth during a pause in the climactic fisticuffs. The movie’s message is conservative – about folding one’s principles (primarily not accepting your wife’s dowry) and bending…

  • Citizen Kane

    Citizen Kane


    And sometimes cinema just needs a 25-year-old wunderkind and his posse of equally passionate friends to push the language of filmmaking into hyperspace. After this rewatch, my first since the early days of my full blown film obsession in 2017, CITIZEN KANE is somehow even better than I remember. And in comparison to other early-1940s films, Welles' legendary Hollywood debut seems especially remarkable in its technical depth and dramatic roundness. To put it simply, it was a total vibe shift.…

  • The Palm Beach Story

    The Palm Beach Story


    Among writer-director Preston Sturges' world of remarkable side characters there inhabits a magnanimous wienie king, a flirtatious millionaire sister, and her emasculated European lover. The motley crew of oddballs, grifters, and loveable buffoons in THE PALM BEACH STORY emphasizes how warmhearted such a hustle of a movie could be. It is only the Coens and their penchant for farce who pick up Sturges' embrace of secondary characters decades down the line. Of course, when a movie relies on the aforementioned…

  • The Devils

    The Devils


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

    My first rendezvous with Ken Russell, and wow. Stands erectly in an orgiastic display of proto-Gilliam filmmaking and gets drenched in howling symphonies of desire before devolving into a balls-to-the-wall variant of THE CRUCIBLE. Whatever the movie attempts to comment re: religious fury gets buried by mountains of flesh and sex. Oliver Reed's performance as Grandier feels singularly towering while Vanessa Redgrave's twitchy, hunchbacked Jeanne exudes a lifetime of sexual repression. One dies a martyr, a representation of flawed goodness, while another lives to be eternally damned, masturbating with the bone of the martyr.