RSS feed for Michael
  • Nymphomaniac 2013

    ★★★★½ Added

    A dirty joke with a ridiculously long set-up and a short, sick punchline. I think I loved it:

    whitecitycinema.com/2014/04/14/now-playing-nymphomaniac-volumes-one-and-two/

  • The Grand Budapest Hotel 2014

    ★★★★ Added

    The protagonist of The Grand Budapest Hotel may be a rapscallion with an eye for wealthy older dames (by which I mean octogenarians) but he’s also a fellow of great integrity who understands what things in life are worth sacrificing oneself for. This moral-clarity-in-the-midst-of-screwball-chaos is finally what makes The Grand Budapest Hotel a worthy heir to the films of the great Ernst Lubitsch, its most important cinematic precedents.

    Full review at my blog: whitecitycinema.com/2014/04/07/odds-and-ends-the-grand-budapest-hotel-and-chicago-to-conjure-a-lost-neighborhood/

  • The Slumber Party Massacre 1982

    ★★★½ Added

    The Slumber Party Massacre is a fascinating relic of a bygone era, the era of my own vanished youth. Although, like most Roger Corman-produced movies of its time, its initial theatrical release was extremely limited, the film gained new life on home video. At the dawn of the VHS era, when horror movies lived and died by their video box art, the clever VHS-cover artwork for The Slumber Party Massacre made the film a cult hit. Although I was a…

  • A Spell to Ward Off the Darkness 2013

    ★★★★½ Added

    This masterful experimental film by co-directors Ben Rivers and Ben Russell begins with one of the most incredible images I’ve seen on a cinema screen in some time: an epic panning shot of a Finnish landscape, first from right to left, then from left to right, as the last traces of sunlight disappear from the night sky. As the screen grows increasingly dark, a band of hilly forest becomes nothing more than a thick, black horizontal line separating the midnight…

  • The Strange Little Cat 2013

    ★★★★½ Added

    Impossible to accurately describe, the strikingly original and primarily non-narrative The Strangle Little Cat is the best German film I’ve seen in years. This is the kind of movie that has no stars, no name director and no trendy subject matter, yet is destined to win a large cult of fans based solely on word of mouth in regards to how amazing it is as a piece of filmmaking. The members of an extended family gather together in an apartment…

  • Gloria 2013

    ★★★★ Added

    John Cassavetes and Sebastian Lelio can both be said to favor a character-centric cinema that feels unusually and impressively attuned to the emotional textures of everyday life. Like Cassavetes, Lelio trains a patient camera eye on his lead character while audaciously resisting taking easy emotional shortcuts. As a result, I found his Gloria to be, well, glorious.

    Full review on my blog: whitecitycinema.com/2014/02/24/now-playing-gloria-2/

  • 12 Years a Slave 2013

    ★★½ Added

    Will Paul Dano ever NOT look and sound like a teenager playing an adult in a high-school play? Why does Brad Pitt use his Aldo Raine/hillbilly accent when his character hails from Canada? Is there something dubious about Steve McQueen's obsessive focus on physical suffering?

  • American Hustle 2013

    ★★★½ Added

    Like Robert Altman, David O. Russell apparently gives his actors free reign to help create their characters, which can admittedly lead to dead-end scenes and an overall sense of looseness but also moments of inspired nuttiness evident even in the hairstyles of the actors — e.g., combover (Bale), perm (Bradley Cooper) and pompadour (Jeremy Renner). So, no, American Hustle is not the best film of the year by a long shot, but watching world-class actors riotously tearing it up for…

  • The Wolf of Wall Street 2013

    ★★★★ Added

    Martin Scorsese made a wise decision to paint this portrait of real-life stockbroker Jordan Belfort as a grotesque — and occasionally surreal — black comedy, simultaneously ridiculing his protagonist for embodying the most asshole-ish aspects of the 1% (his existence is seen as a non-stop party of sex, drugs and the kind of debauchery that only “stupid money” can buy), while also sticking uncomfortably close to Belfort’s subjective state of near-constant euphoria. The result is arguably the funniest movie Scorsese…

  • Inside Llewyn Davis 2013

    ★★★★ Added

    Evocatively set during the Greenwich Village "folk revival," Inside Llewyin Davis contains a pungent core of sadness, but it is also, as more than a few critics have noted, probably the Coen brothers’ warmest movie since The Big Lebowski. Their patented smart-ass humor has been replaced by (or has perhaps deepened into) something more emotional and affectionate, a lot of the credit for which should be given to Isaac and soundtrack supervisor T-Bone Burnett. But Inside Llewyn Davis is also…

  • Leviathan 2012

    ★★★★ Added

    Fishy viscera.

  • A Fugitive from the Past 1965

    ★★★★★ Added

    I am a sucker for the “police procedural” (from Fritz Lang’s M in 1931 to David Fincher’s Zodiac over 75 years later) and Tomu Uchida’s 1965 masterpiece A Fugitive from the Past is one of my very favorite examples of this subgenre. Uchida isn’t technically a New Waver — he was born in the late 19th century and began directing in the silent era — yet I’ve never seen a film from the 1960s made by anyone of his generation…