• The 10th Victim

    The 10th Victim

    ★★★

    A clever lark. Moderately shallow, it needs to skim the surface to move the way it has to move, but it has just a touch of angry satire and romance, giving it a little depth. One of those movies I've been reading about my whole life (because sf) and thought I knew what to expect, but director Elio Petri has a sure hand and the movie accumulates a little gravitas even as it seems mostly made up of madcap shenanigans.…

  • Toolbox Murders

    Toolbox Murders

    ★★★½

    Watched w/ Eli in honor of Tobe Hooper's birthday. Some of the scene transitions and music cues are clumsy, reminding me that Hooper made some mediocre movies, but this one works. Modestly deranged, with a very strong sense of place (that apartment complex was bumming me out within minutes) and Angela Bettis in the lead is a power move. The story cheerfully mixes classic tropes and it pre-empts two of our best recent horror films (Watcher and Barbarian) in small…

  • The Conformist

    The Conformist

    ★★★★

    Watched at Film Forum w/ Leah. New 4K restoration.

    Seems perverse that a movie that is fundamentally about passivity and capitulation to the world's descent into shadow could be sexy, funny and captivating. But it is. There's a wonderful Philip Larkin poem ("A Study of Reading Habits") where he complains that novels aren't fun to read any more because he identifies too strongly with the background dudes who are there to be lame and normal and make the hero's heroism…

  • Solaris

    Solaris

    ★★★

    We experience, through others, ourselves. Connection is when souls meet honestly and say “What is in you, is in me. What I give to you I give to myself.” — Calliste Camu

    This movie has always felt intriguing and yet like a missed opportunity.

    My first watch of it left me disappointed, yet with a lingering desire to take a second look that lasted years. I finally took that second look — the disappointed feeling is diminished but so is…

  • Mill of the Stone Women

    Mill of the Stone Women

    ★★★

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    Hoop tober No. 8 #40

    Very pretty — Italy's first-ever horror film in color — but poky. Overall an odd duck. Like someone reshuffled the Gothic deck but threw a few jokers into it first. There's a stolid hero, new arrival on a remote island, but also his sweetheart from childhood somehow already lives there. There's a lonely young woman who never leaves her house and has a mysterious ailment but also she might be a sinister femme fatale but…

  • Coraline

    Coraline

    ★★★½

    Hoop tober No. 8 #39

    Impressive, gorgeous, not quite as endearing for me as Paranorman (the other Laika-produced animated horror film for kids I saw this Hooptober). I would attribute to the fact that Paranorman was written for the screen, while this is an adaptation of a (quite slender) Neil Gaiman story, and feels like a slender story with embellishments and curlicues that (more often than not) are delightful but which lead to the film having a weaker sense of…

  • Depraved

    Depraved

    ★★★

    Hoop tober No. 8 #38

    Okay, it's almost Christmas (yeesh), time to wrap this year's Hooptober up.

    I was happy to have a Fessenden movie on my list. Larry Fessenden is a rare one: a smart dude creating a meta-commentary on horror movies and their enduring thematic power, crucially doing this not in the abstract but by, Borges-style, making his own horror movies. And like a latter-day Roger Corman, not only building up his own profile as an artist over…

  • My Best Friend Is a Vampire

    My Best Friend Is a Vampire

    ★★

    Hoop tober No. 8 #37

    Relatively sprightly to watch — hard to hate a movie with David Warner in it — but not much to write about. I would have rather been rewatching Heckerling's Vamps. This one has some charm, but little oomph.

    I'll remember it for a song and for one member of its cast.

    The song is by Timbuk 3 and is called "The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades." I had a friend in high school…

  • Naked Lunch

    Naked Lunch

    ★★★

    Hoop tober No. 8 #36

    With this director, I usually run pretty hot or cold. I found myself running lukewarm with this one.

    This was a long shot, anyway. I wanted to fulfill the "insect" requirement for Hooptober and at the same time fill a gap in my Cronenberg catalog. But it's not like I wasn't aware of the existence of this movie. I'd never caught up with it before because I was pretty solidly sure it wasn't going to…

  • The Nest

    The Nest

    ★★

    Hoop tober No. 8 #35

    It's more interesting to see what goes into the pot than to taste what comes out when it's done cooking. There are some fun nature-runs-amok tropes and, towards the end, a reminder that Cronenberg's The Fly was the greatest box office success of his entire career, just the previous year, and so there was clearly a hasty effort to include some bigger bug-like creatures alongside the pesky piles of roaches that cause most of the…

  • The Harbinger

    The Harbinger

    ★★★½

    Watched at the Alamo Drafthouse, with director's q&a afterward.

    It's a simple story of a bond of friendship tested by the pandemic. The bond, forged through one young woman helping another young woman survive her mental breakdown, is called upon years later during Lockdown Spring, when one friend, formerly a rescuer, finds herself in need of rescue and without any other recourse than to call upon the friend she rescued. Her peril comes from a terrifying avatar of destruction called…

  • The Birds II: Land's End

    The Birds II: Land's End

    ★★

    Hoop tober No. 8 #34

    This was kind of an interesting ride, swinging wildly between "This isn't so bad!" and "Oh my goodness, no" from scene to scene.

    It's not like this was a particularly winsome idea, any way you slice it. But the one attempt to remix an element from the original film goes badly awry. Back in 1963, there was a strange entanglement between Melanie's irrational fascination with Mitch and the inexplicable behavior of the birds. Thirty years…