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  • Pillow Talk 1959

    ★★★★ Watched 13 Jul, 2014

    In retrospect, it's weird that I watched and enjoyed Down with Love years ago without having seen Pillow Talk or, actually, any Rock Hudson vehicle. But I'm glad I finally got around to this, because it's a zippy, colorful romantic comedy brimming with witty asides and silly gags. The chemistry between Hudson and Doris Day is off the charts, which makes the whole thing sing.

  • Still Alice 2014

    ★★ Watched 19 Dec, 2014

    Still Alice is the cinematic equivalent of a softball, an inoffensive, competently made film with no interest in narrative or style, starring a great actress as a beautiful person felled by a tragic disease. Does it matter that the work is far from her best or that the film spends no time showing you who her character is or why she's so beloved? No, it's enough that it's about early onset Alzheimer's and has her giving a big speech about…

  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes 2014

    ★★★★½ Watched 13 Jul, 2014

    Who could have expected the sequel to a prequel to be so stirring and soulful? After the generic, Heston-quoting bullshit of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, I was ready to write off this new franchise attempt. Leave it to my boy Matt Reeves, director of underrated genre pics Cloverfield (the rare great found footage movie) and Let Me In (the rare great foreign film remake), to offer a course-correct.

    Andy Serkis, the previous film’s saving grace, is back…

  • Life Itself 2014

    ★★★★½ Watched 12 Jul, 2014

    Roger Ebert meant a lot to me. He meant a lot to a great many people for whom movies became more than just a hobby; indeed, he and partner/rival Gene Siskel probably introduced the idea of serious film criticism to millions of Americans. When he passed away early last year, I was taken aback by how strongly I reacted. I felt like I’d lost a family member.

    In a way, Steve James’ documentary Life Itself is like being reunited with…

  • Inglourious Basterds 2009

    ★★★★★ Rewatched 11 Jul, 2014

    I was invited to be on a podcast called Making the Scene, which dissects individual film scenes chosen by the guest. After much deliberation, I decided on the La Louisiane scene in Inglourious Basterds, one of the tensest in recent memory. It's like a little 20-minute short story tucked away in the middle of the film, with its own distinct cast of characters, set-up, and resolution. Tarantino's sense of rhythm, working for the last time with the late master editor…

  • A Hard Day's Night 1964

    ★★★★★ Rewatched 09 Jul, 2014

    The first film I saw at The Nightlight, Akron, OH's very own arthouse. The Criterion restoration makes director Richard Lester's oddball black-and-white visuals pop; this 50-year-old movie looks as fresh and inventive as any modern music video. The new sound mix, overseen by Apple itself, is crisp and full, allowing the Fab Four's best pre-Rubber Soul hits to sound better than ever before. Each time I watch A Hard Day's Night, I find more tiny jokes and sly visual gags…

  • Battleship Potemkin 1925

    ★★★★½ Rewatched 08 Jul, 2014

    Not quite the masterpiece I'd taken it for when I was younger, but still a riveting piece of Soviet propaganda. The film occasionally feels a tad dry, but whenever Eisenstein lets rip, the results are unforgettable. The wild-haired priest, the baby carriage tumbling down the Odessa steps, the nurse with her glasses askew and eye shot out...these are images I'll take to my grave.

  • Seven Samurai 1954

    ★★★★★ Rewatched 08 Jul, 2014

    Kurosawa's first and best samurai film, Seven Samurai remains the genre's masterpiece. Its influence on the last 60 years of film is undeniable, giving us such common plot devices as the recruiting of a motley crew to save the day and the hero being introduced in an opening action scene unrelated to the rest of the story. It wouldn't be a lie to say there's more than a little of Seven Samurai in The Avengers. Kurosawa's use of multiple cameras…

  • The Searchers 1956

    ★★★ Rewatched 07 Jul, 2014

    When I watched The Searchers a decade or so again, I came away shrugging my shoulders, asking, “That was it?” That’s the danger any time a film is hyped for decades as one of the all-time classics; it’s why so many people either don’t watch or don’t get Citizen Kane. Watching it again, I was hoping for something to suddenly click into place, to have the same response I did my second time through Vertigo.

    That didn’t happen.

    And yet…

  • Vertigo 1958

    ★★★★★ Rewatched 07 Jul, 2014

    Dirty secret: most of the ratings I've given on this site probably aren't accurate. Any movie I haven't seen since...2009, maybe? could probably use a second opinion, though who knows how many of them I'll ever revisit. That's the year I graduated high school, and probably the year when my tastes really, truly coalesced. (Give it another ten years, and I might be saying the same thing about 2019.)

    Vertigo is a perfect example. One of Hitchcock's most acclaimed films,…

  • Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans 1927

    ★★★★★ Watched 06 Jul, 2014 3

    Some movies are miracles, and Sunrise is one of them. How does this movie even work? How can it go from a man almost murdering his wife An American Tragedy style to the two of them literally stopping traffic with a kiss? How does it not collapse under the weight of its emotions, all of which are fervent and feverish and ecstatic and over-the-top? How did F.W. Murnau get his camera to do what it did, gliding across the set,…

  • The Wind Rises 2013

    ★★★★½ Watched 02 Jul, 2014

    This may be Hayao Miyazaki's final film. After a half-century in animation, the Japanese master's retirement is a deserved one; The Wind Rises is yet another reminder why. It's a beautiful film, overflowing with the color and detail one expects from Miyazaki. The story is an interesting amalgamation, based on Miyazaki's 2009 manga, which in turn was based on Tatsuo Hori's 1930s novel The Wind Has Risen. Though the film and manga are about the life of WWII aviation engineer…