• Pride & Prejudice

    Pride & Prejudice

    ★★★★½

    Yeah, I don't like period dramas. Yeah, I rated this a 4.5. What about it? It literally has Keira Knightley, Matthew Macfadyen, Rosamund Pike, Carey Mulligan, and Jena Malone in it. How could you expect me to rate it anything below a 4 with that hot of a cast? I have a crush on every single one of them. Not to mention that Brenda Blethyn, Donald Sutherland, and Judi Dench all kill it. The casting, the writing, the pacing, the cinematography, the music. The hand flex scene, the rain scene, the field scene. How could I not rate this a 4.5? I'm not a fool.

  • Spencer

    Spencer

    ★★★★

    Can't really say anything more than what's already been said before. It's brilliant. Kristen Stewart deserves the Oscar, without a doubt in my mind. Pablo Larraín proves himself yet again as the go-to director for biopics about tragic female icons. Claire Mathon's cinematography is simply beautiful – she also deserves the Oscar, especially since she didn't even receive a nomination for Portrait Of A Lady On Fire. Jonny Greenwood's score is goddamn phenomenal – it'll be fun seeing whether he…

  • Fantastic Planet

    Fantastic Planet

    ★★★★

    The Criterion Challenge 2022

    From both a visual and a world-building standpoint, René Laloux's Fantastic Planet is an animated classic of the highest order. Completely absorbing in its sociopolitical allegory, with themes concerning racism, colonialism, conformity, and even animal rights, the film's subtext was wholly relevant for the time of its release, and still to this day. Fantastical and surreal, Roland Topor's cutout animation is greatly experimental, and remains as some of the best- and coolest-looking art direction ever put…

  • tick, tick...BOOM!

    tick, tick...BOOM!

    ★★★½

    Andrew Garfield is electric and the soundtrack is unsurprisingly sensational, but Lin-Manuel Miranda's direction leaves a lot to be desired. I'm between a 3 and a 3.5, but it goes without saying that AG's performance deserved a far better movie.

  • Kagemusha

    Kagemusha

    ★★★★

    The Criterion Challenge 2021: Round 4

    Something of a predecessor to Ran, which would come five years later, Akira Kurosawa's Kagemusha was another classic foray into war epics and also a return to his painting roots. A look into power and the relationship between illusion and reality, Kagemusha delivers in having both grandiosity and quietness. The Sengoku period here looks breathtaking, the final Battle of Nagashino is a fantastic climax, and Tatsuya Nakadai brings the goods as always.

    Phew. My…

  • The Sword of Doom

    The Sword of Doom

    ★★★★½

    The Criterion Challenge 2021: Round 4

    Neo-Samurai cinema, if there ever was such a thing, one that aims to completely subvert the Samurai genre, from its characters, to its narrative structure, and to its themes. Kihachi Okamoto's The Sword Of Doom does not lunge itself into the moralistic qualities of a skilled swordsman, or the overcoming of wrongful-natured odds, or even the pillars of honour and loyalty. Instead, it makes its audience stare right into the face of cold-blooded evil.…

  • The Shop on Main Street

    The Shop on Main Street

    ★★★★

    The Criterion Challenge 2021: Round 4

    A Holocaust drama about the psychology of Nazist complicity, no matter how direct. Ján Kadár and Elmar Klos's The Shop On Main Street deals with the Aryanisation program of World War II within the Slovak State, where Jewish properties were overturned to Aryans and/or non-Jewish people. Like many Czech New Wave films, The Shop On Main Street meshes tones extremely well, despite the subject matter. At times surprisingly humorous, and other times flat-out heartbreaking. Jozef Kroner and Ida Kamińska are spectacular in the lead roles. And both Vladimír Novotný's cinematography and Zdeněk Liška's score are fantastic.

  • The Power of the Dog

    The Power of the Dog

    ★★★★

    So incredibly subtle and clandestine, Jane Campion's elusive The Power Of The Dog is an expertly-crafted study of masculinity. Fueled by a slow build of atmospheric tension, without ever feeling the need to explain anything, Campion's balancing act of emotional and thematic undertones is one to behold. Every character is densely realised, yet we know only fragments of information. Benedict Cumberbatch, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Kirsten Dunst, and Jesse Plemons are all top notch. Jonny Greenwood's score is absolutely perfect – that…

  • Don't Look Up

    Don't Look Up

    ★½

    Excruciatingly dogmatic, annoyingly smug, and painfully unfunny. Godawful satire meets lazy social commentary, and what results is one of the most impressively subpar movies I've seen in a good long while.

  • When a Woman Ascends the Stairs

    When a Woman Ascends the Stairs

    ★★★★½

    The Criterion Challenge 2021: Round 4

    The patriarchal entrapment of women, where agency is limited and the only options are those created and subsequently enforced by men. Mikio Naruse's When A Woman Ascends The Stairs is a piercing study of the throes of women amidst post-war Japan. Depressingly cyclical, thronged with parallels and foreshadowing, the film examines the world these women live in: male-dominated and male-dependent. Their livelihoods are swarmed with objectification and constraint. Naruse's craftsmanship is undeniably impactful and Hideko Takamine's performance is utterly phenomenal.

    My first Naruse film and I am incredibly impressed.

  • Limelight

    Limelight

    ★★★★

    The Criterion Challenge 2021: Round 4

    The Tramp's final adieu, Charlie Chaplin's Limelight is an affecting and personal mixture of comedy and drama. With a larger emphasis on the latter tone, Chaplin made a work about aging out of life that is at times optimistic and other times sombre. His acting and direction are top notch as always, but his writing really stood out; it might be one of my favourite screenplays of his. The songs and acts were a…

  • Paisan

    Paisan

    ★★★½

    The Criterion Challenge 2021: Round 4

    Robert Rossellini's follow-up to Rome, Open City and the second film of his Neorealist trilogy, Paisan amps up the narrative ambition, consisting of 6 episodes set during the liberation of Italy towards the end of World War II. An international cast of people, a difference between cultures, a struggle for communication. Rossellini had incorporated even more neorealist traits, using non-professional actors, on-location shooting, and newsreel-like camerawork, in order to create an authentic portrait of the lives so freshly impacted and lost.