Favorite films

  • L.A. Story
  • The Saragossa Manuscript
  • Das Boot
  • Tenebre

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  • The Wolf's Call

    ★★★½

  • Another Round

    ★★★

  • The Descent

    ★★★½

  • The Big Lebowski

    ★★★★★

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  • Inherent Vice

    Inherent Vice

    ★★★★★

    Why should things be easy to understand?

    — T. Pynchon

    I doubt we'll see another of Thomas Pynchon's stupendous stories adapted for the screen; and in a way, I hope we don't: Paul Thomas Anderson's Inherent Vice is the kind of miraculous manifestation that happens once, like a wave that crests and hangs, suspending time, before collapsing under the weight of its own perfection. You could say the same of the counterculture, in whose backwash muttonchopped PI Doc Sportello finds…

  • Withnail & I

    Withnail & I

    ★★★★★

    Ah, Withnail. Like most of my peers, I watched this too many times to count between the ages of 18 and 21, but without ever really appreciating the currents of desperation and despair that flow through the film, or just how poignant their consummation is. It was always on in the background when you went round to someone's place, and what emerged through the fug of inebriation were the endless quotable lines, Richard E. Grant's manic shrieking, Uncle Monty's bombast,…

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  • The Wolf's Call

    The Wolf's Call

    ★★★½

    Le chant du loup. Il t'appelle de loins, à travers de la mer, de les étoilles. De l'enclos des loups. Oui, tu es au zoo, face à l'ennui à nouveau. Tout es vain. Des glaces sans saveur, des singes oui, mais pas ceux qui ont les fesses rouges. Et donc? Peut-être qu'un film améliorera l'humeur. Quelque chose de dramatique...

    In a surprisingly convincing near-future, France is Europe's last bulwark against an excessively bolshy (Bolshoi?) Russia. A troublemaker spoofs a Russkie…

  • Another Round

    Another Round

    ★★★

    Booze resembles religion in that we can never know, no matter how earnestly we imbibe, what it’s like for our fellow adherents (still less for abstainers). Drinking with friends or strangers is drinking alone; to drink alone is to drink even more alone. It’s like Tolstoy’s dictum of all unhappy families being differently unhappy: except drinking makes you differently happy, too.

    The best alcohol stories acknowledge this intrinsic interiority by situating you inside the skin of the drinker so you…

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  • L.A. Story

    L.A. Story

    ★★★★★

    I love everything about this criminally underrated fantasy. I love Richard E. Grant's oleaginous English smarm. I love Rick Moranis's cockney gravedigger. I love the set pieces — the choreographed fountains, the freeway duel, the "I'll be your robber" scene. I love Patrick Stewart and L'Idiot. I love — and I seem to be the only one — everything about Victoria Tennant's performance, full of quirk and bafflement and "deep sustained booming sounds". I love Andrew Dunn's cinematography, its gauzy,…

  • Tampopo

    Tampopo

    ★★★★★

    Food is life. A spaghetti-eating lesson is subverted by a balding, belching Westerner. A troupe of hobo gourmets trade tasting notes and whip up omelettes in hotel kitchens after hours. A mad granny palps peaches and cheese, pursued by a store clerk. Food is sex. A gangster who resembles a young Chairman Kaga from Iron Chef understands the aphrodisiacal powers of raw eggs and oysters. Food is death. A dying wife wills herself to cook one last meal for her…