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  • Unfriended

    Unfriended 2014

    ★★★½ Watched 25 Sep, 2015 4

    From an email I sent to a mentor of mine:

    It's a "desktop" horror film that I think should interest you—not because of its "New Media" techniques but because of how it uses the visual language of the desktop to appeal to the classicist functions of narrative and suspense. There are many elements—rephrasing typing, a cursor spinning over a button, lagging, and notification sounds—that work as social codes that the contemporary audience is familiar with, and then they are exploited…

  • The Don Is Dead

    The Don Is Dead 1973

    ★★★½ Watched 29 Jan, 2015

    "Where The Godfather relies on an operatic structure, The Don Is Dead embraces a tone closer to the gangster films of the 1930s, moving from location to location with zippy plotting; there’s no sense of reverence and a good deal of sleaze. (Jerry Goldsmith’s score appropriately imitates the giallo films of Italy with a snappy bass guitar rhythm.) Most essentially, the action—a specialty for the director of Violent Saturday, The Vikings, and The Last Run—is shot with acute precision. Fleischer…

  • The World According to Garp

    The World According to Garp 1982

    ★★★½ Watched 24 Jul, 2015 1

    Discussed on the latest podcast with Adam Kempenaar of Filmspotting. As I noted, this was kind of the "middle-brow" choice of the three that Adam gave for me to choose from, but I think it made for the most enlightening discussion. Not just because Garp is a thematically dense text, but I think examining how a film like this makes meaning through its direction of its images. It looks like its basic continuity, but there's quite a lot of subtle…

  • Hard to Be a God

    Hard to Be a God 2013

    ★★★★½ Rewatched 19 Apr, 2015

    "German’s update causes the viscerally intense experience to register almost as an aesthetic roller coaster rather than political allegory. But if anything, Hard to Be a God repeats history as sludge-covered comedy. So as the dawn of a new Cold War begins, German’s nightmarish opera succeeds in following individuals who want to change the course of history, but are helpless to stop it without resorting to brutal violence."

    My latest Aklasu Magazine column for the film's UK Blu-Ray release.

  • Blind Chance

    Blind Chance 1987

    ★★★½ Watched 02 Sep, 2015

    "It would be unfair to classify Kieślowski as a cynic, however—the ending of Three Colors: Red may be one of the most humanistic images cinema has produced—and Blind Chance, despite its investment in the powers that controls us, still spurs Witek to not simply “behave decently” (as the director described his character’s actions in an interview), but to simply embrace something. Commitment isn’t just a political choice; it’s a human one."

    My latest column for Aklasu Magazine.

  • The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

    The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford 2007

    ★★½ Rewatched 20 Aug, 2015 1

    Discussed on the latest podcast with Matthew Dessem, and if you listen closely, you can tell my ambivalence related to this film. I mostly kept my qualms to a minimum in the episode (because there are things worth digging into), but this film is so obsessed with its myth that it has no interest in cinema. Every gesture calls attention to itself as a gesture, and Pitt's James is a total cipher who is redesigned in every scene to fit…

  • Mistress America

    Mistress America 2015

    ★★★★ Watched 03 Sep, 2015

    "Reality smashes against fiction, and the highwire act hits full throttle. Camera shots last minutes as characters run in and out of the frame, popping in for a single line of dialogue before shoving back out. The interjections are less breaks in the action that naturally flowing staccato notes, as the emotions suddenly bubble and simmer up and down through the weaving house, until it becomes all against one, and the definition of true cruelty is exposed."

    Reviewed on the…

  • Dressed to Kill

    Dressed to Kill 1980

    ★★★½ Watched 05 Sep, 2015 1

    "De Palma would rather identify with those classified as 'freaks,' as he demonstrates when the patients of Bellevue stare with glee at a murder in a split frame. After all, carnal thirst is why we’re watching movies in the first place, and the maestro orchestrates sex and murder without inhibition. The film’s oppressively bright whites leak onto the primary colors, while Allen strips down to black lingerie to tempt the good doctor. 'We can just get back to the mind…

  • There It Is

    There It Is 1928

    ★★★ Watched 31 May, 2015

    "Every wall becomes a door, every ceiling an escape route, every rug a trap door. Bowers’s use of stop-motion animation in the physical sets is astonishing, such as when a wagon magically runs through a wall in a single shot (a marvel to consider how it must have been filmed)."

    A brief excerpt from my new piece on silent cinema's comedies set in haunted houses, which appears in the new issue of Little White Lies. This was my least favorite…

  • She’s Funny That Way

    She’s Funny That Way 2014

    ★★★½ Watched 03 Sep, 2015

    Imogen Poots = Colleen Camp
    Owen Wilson = Elliot Gould
    Kathryn Hahn = Barbara Streisand
    Rhys Ifans = Michael Caine
    Jennifer Aniston = Madeline Kahn
    Will Forte = Ryan O'Neal
    Austin Pendleton = Jimmy Stewart
    George Morfogen = Elisha Cook Jr.
    Cybill Shepherd = Tippi Hendren
    Richard Lewis = Richard Widmark
    Lucy Punch = Hanna Schygulla

  • The Killers

    The Killers 1964

    ★★★ Watched 24 Jun, 2015

    "The Technicolor look contrasts with the confrontational violence, and there’s a sense of gravity, as bottles and people hit the floor with composed intensity. The physicality can be grotesque—it opens with Marvin beating a blind, elderly woman—but Siegel films violence with seriousness, showcasing his characters’ indulgences and complicating moral centers. Cassavetes trades boxing for the more period-appropriate stock car driving, and the film climaxes with a chase, accompanied by a Henry Mancini-esque score from John Williams."

    Excerpted from my new…

  • The Mend

    The Mend 2015

    ★★★★ Watched 20 Aug, 2015 1

    "Who else can turn the line 'Go make me a fucking sandwich' into one of the most romantic things said on screen this year, launching an operatic, beautiful close that’s at once Margaret as well as Mike Leigh’s Naked? The Mend doesn’t just fall into the usual aesthetic categories we’re used to having in our movies, giving us a pre-determined style that will lull us. It pushes, challenges, and breaks us for its running time, and leaves us in a state of beautiful, haunting bliss. "

    Seek this one out folks (and DON'T STEAL IT, jeez). Reviewed on the podcast.