James Westbrook

All those monkeys writing Shakespeare lost interest and started reviewing movies instead.

Favorite films

  • Portrait of a Lady on Fire
  • Tropical Malady
  • The Intruder
  • The Hole

Recent activity

All
  • Cha Cha Real Smooth

    ★½

  • Top Gun

    ★★★

  • Berberian Sound Studio

    ★★★

  • Miss Julie

    ★★★

Pinned reviews

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  • The Power of the Dog

    The Power of the Dog

    ★★★★½

    (EDIT: Giving this piece the profile bump to celebrate My Favorite Films of 2021. Here's to all of 2021's weirdo movies and their psychosexual twists and turns. Check that list for brief thoughts on all those movies, or continue on for some juicy, spoiler-filled analysis of this one.)

    There's cold in the eyes of Phil Burbank, a judgmental deadness in his stare. He thinks in terms of power, sees the world as a place where everyone is always playing everyone…

  • Paris, Texas

    Paris, Texas

    ★★★★★

    The America of Paris, Texas is an America of horizons. Grass-flecked deserts that go on for miles, hills that crest and recede far past where we can see them, and sunsets that sweep across everything in sight, the earth descending into twilight blue as the sky dances in hues of gold and purple. Even when Travis Henderson sits on the hill top of his brother's swanky L.A. home the city lights below him stretch for so far, glitter and blink…

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  • Cha Cha Real Smooth

    Cha Cha Real Smooth

    It depresses the hell out of me that American Progressivism has largely stalled out as an actual political movement and instead mostly exists in our present moment as a way for rich-kid narcissists like Cooper Raiff to perform their good intentions by shoehorning the movement's values into the margins of the exact same "sad sack white boy learns to grow up by having a relationship with a woman way out of his league who would only ever be interested in…

  • Top Gun

    Top Gun

    ★★★

    Caramel skies, sunset silhouettes, crystalized beads of sweat glowing like fireflies under the indigo hum of mysterious military machines; yes, Top Gun is beautiful, in its own way. It's a thoughtless kind of beauty, one divorced from the question of beauty as a philosophical quandary, beauty like a beach vacation at some perfectly manicured, sneakily artificial resort. It's aspirational beauty, in the way fantasizing about a star quarterback or cheerleader is aspirational. "Look at these chiseled Adonises, these swaggering sculpted…

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  • Nomadland

    Nomadland

    ★★½

    As if independent film's lingering obsession with Malick fucked a Vox explainer on the ripple effects of the '08 housing crash. It's at its best when it embraces the oral tradition and lets Real People tell their stories in warmly lit wide-angle close-ups, but it's telling that those moments come and go in bite-sized snippets that are largely window dressing for Nomadland's real obsession: watching Francis McDormand perform poverty against self-consciously-beautiful Western backdrops. There's an argument to be made that…

  • Sweetgrass

    Sweetgrass

    ★★★★

    For a couple years after I moved to Atlanta I sometimes worked as a camera assistant for a corporate video company. A lot of their clients were agriculture-related, and for one series of videos we traveled to a handful of farms across the U.S.: I visited peanut farms in south Georgia, Oklahoma, and Virginia, and worked on a tractor ad in rural Oregon. My primary job was to sit in the backseat of a car as we drove between locations,…