• Film Title Poem

    Film Title Poem

    ★★★

    I wrote this review, and watched the film, before reading Jennifer West's introduction to the film. I am happy that I was able to mostly correctly deconstruct what I was watching, but the additional context is really nice to have.

    Of the many shorts I've seen that appropriate and then collage movie stills or sequences, I interpret Film Title Poem as one of the more appreciative ones. In it, Jennifer West shines a flashlight on many of the films in…

  • American Animals

    American Animals

    ★★½

    Much effort went into ensuring that I would recognize that I am being presented with unreliable details. The film goes Rashomon-lite (viewer must be like: which of you narrators can I trust?), which was ultimately an underused narrative element. Unfortunately, pitting narrator against narrator is not effective when the truth being picked apart is the most minor details (like what Person A was wearing during Incident A). 

    I had a bad attitude about all that because the cleverness/multiple perspectives/documentary-frame truly only…

  • Foxcatcher

    Foxcatcher

    ★★★½

    1. In biopic terms, the story and structure is understated and not unnecessarily contrived. Except that one scene.

    2. Casting Steve Carell seems risky, especially considering when this film came out. But it turns out that he was perfect for this role. Funny, a stressful person to engage with, but never a character worth laughing at.

    3. Casting everyone else turned out weirdly well. Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo play incredible brother-foils. Although, maybe the actors playing du Pont's associates…

  • Crooklyn

    Crooklyn

    ★★★★½

    Episodic films are attractive to me: they are prone to lyrical tangents and memorable portrait. Crooklyn brings exactly that to the table, but not without losing its hyper-focus on the Carmichael family. Nothing about the household feels like a caricature.

    While it's a pleasure to see the Carmichaels' home-life, the film's scope doesn't stop there. We get a sizeable look into their 1970s Brooklyn neighbourhood, then the satisfying (and shockingly ultra-wide) juxtaposition of somewhere suburban in the South. Things don't stop happening, and the music barely ever stops.

  • Reminiscences of a Journey to Lithuania

    Reminiscences of a Journey to Lithuania

    ★★★★

    Lacks self-consciousness; justifiably nostalgic. Mekas offers casual, extensive familial and historical context—more than necessary, but with the softest touch.

    We are brought along into Mekas' extensive travels: from New York City in the 1950s, to the Lithuanian countryside of the 1970s, to the Lithuanian countryside of the 1940s, and then somewhere in Vienna in the 1970s. But at no point are we tourists.

  • The Disaster Artist

    The Disaster Artist

    ★½

    My regards to James and Dave Franco for their incredible takes on the Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero we all know and love from The Room. Unfortunately, I don't have many other nice things to say about this The Disaster Artist.

    This Apatow-derivative buddy comedy never felt fleshed out enough for me to suspend disbelief. I never did read the source material—Sestero's book The Disaster Artist—but I'd be shocked if this didn't over-simplify and composite the shit out of what…

  • A Ghost Story

    A Ghost Story

    ★★

    There are some things to like about A Ghost Story. It is decidedly minimal and refuses to let viewers understand the mechanics of life after death; and it is decidedly prototypical in when dealing with its (living) main characters (no full names, no back stories). It jumps between sad, long shots and jokey, cartoon aesthetics kinda effortlessly. All the while, the movie remains borderline fun—probably even for kids—without seeming tired or overproduced. 

    Still, I ended up feeling put off by…

  • The Republic

    The Republic

    ★★★★

    1. This film contributes to a future where film is a more diverse and interesting ecosystem. This is important.

    2. It is visually unique and aurally surprising. It shows great range and ventures beyond the sounds and atmosphere of real life. Listen for the doorbells. Listen for the self-conscious reading styles of the performers.

    3. It treats its libertarian outsiders and e-cigarette enthusiasts with seriousness. This is important.

    4. Nour Mobarak's narration is reserved and incredible.

  • Somewhere

    Somewhere

    ★★★★½

    This has been compared to Lost in Translation, which is also a quiet, contemplative trip where a famous actor gets strung along, carried by hotel- and wait-staff, and those who know the local language (but in this case: Italian). What I think sets Somewhere apart from Lost is its lead’s missing sense of humour, and later on, what forces the main character to face himself and create change.


    From the beginning, he humourlessly brushes off the fact that his day-to-day life is unsustainable…

  • Personal Shopper

    Personal Shopper

    ★★★

    This ended up being more compelling than I expected. It was simple and genuine, and just scary enough. Considering how Kristen Stewart spends much of her time in transit, tired of living in Paris, and consuming media on her phone, this had momentum and felt natural.

    The film centers around "outsider" characters who believe in spiritualism, and it doesn't give their fringe beliefs a second thought. Many movies don't approach these kinds of people with respect. And then they, without…

  • Sorcerer

    Sorcerer

    ★★★½

    Its practical effects really characterize its world.  Misfortune lingers in every place and on every person. In some other movie the amount of pyrotechnics, work-related accidents, and sudden death might have been overkill, but in this context it was just some weird slice of life. When the credits started rolling I felt exhausted and that was nice.