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  • Sorry to Bother You

    Sorry to Bother You

    ★★★

    Danny Glover tells Cash not to use nasal uptight Eddie Murphy schtick as his “white voice”, but then they end up with David Cross and Patton Oswalt as what white people “only wish they sound like”. Couldn’t resist going for schtick anyway?

    My favorite Black Mirror episode is “Fifteen Million Merits”, and Sorry to Bother You is in similar satiric territory that I was behind in principle, but not entirely as executed. It’s got a strain of light-hearted goofy SNL

  • Blessed Event

    Blessed Event

    ★★★

    Kind of a by-the-numbers rehash of The Front Page. Lee Tracy's rapid-fire delivery plus the charms of some of the character actors make this watchable, but the plot is nothing special. It's not a biting exposé of yellow journalism, just Tracy playing an already established type.

  • The Toolbox Murders

    The Toolbox Murders

    I stopped watching about forty minutes in. I was watching for transgressive value, but the murder sequences were too much like porn for men that really hate women. No thanks.

  • Dial M for Murder

    Dial M for Murder

    ★★★

    I generally don’t like films based on stageplays, and going into it, I didn’t realize that Dial M for Murder is one. For the first fifteen minutes of characters standing around talking, I was bouncing off it pretty hard, but thankfully once Ray Milland started revealing his scheme I was sucked into the charms of his villainous glee pretty quickly. I guess this is Hitchcock redoing the same one set quasi-real time thing he tried in Rope, and here it…

  • Carrie

    Carrie

    ★★★

    My biggest problem watching Carrie is the same problem I’ve had with a bunch of big late Seventies horror movies: Jaws, Carrie, Halloween, Alien... They’re all constructed around shock sequences that were spoiled for me decades before I saw them. Sissy Spacek stalking through the gym wide-eyed and covered in blood is a perfect moment, but thanks to the magic of still photography, her stare is an image that’s been burned in my brain since about 1985. When I was…

  • Blue Sunshine

    Blue Sunshine

    ★★

    It’s both cute and annoying that the villain of Blue Sunshine is a politician with a shady past who’s running for office under the slogan “Make America good again”. As a paranoid post-Watergate conspiracy thriller made on a shoestring, this reminded me a little of Larry Cohen’s movies, but the script isn’t terribly clever. There’s the skeleton of a standard genre movie, but the leaps it takes to move the plot from beat to beat are sometimes jarringly nonsensical. I…

  • The Pier [Like Mending Glass]

    The Pier [Like Mending Glass]

    ★★★★

    I’m not totally convinced of the efficacy of the central device of the film (the recurring memory of the woman on the pier). The interview with the filmmaker on Facets’s blog brings up a couple salient points that were lost on me during my viewing: the content of the memory changes during the different retellings (which was too subtle for me to notice), and it’s likely that the memory in any incarnation is mostly apocryphal (she mentions that her grandfather…

  • Race with the Devil

    Race with the Devil

    ★★★

    Going into my viewing of Race for the Devil, I was worried that it was going to be a dull and tacky so-bad-it’s-good Seventies dud along the lines of The Manitou or The Klansman, and it isn’t that exactly. It’s tacky in its subject matter, but (mostly) not its approach. It kind of has a New Hollywood aesthetic with a few artsy editing montages and interesting shots. Warren Oates plays the same sort of beleaguered insecure-in-his-masculinity failure that he does…

  • Maniac Cop

    Maniac Cop

    ★★

    “I’ve seen plenty of my friends murdered by cops. Shot in the back, shot when they didn’t have a gun or a knife, claiming the suspect had a ‘shiny object’... You know, cops like killing. That’s why they’re cops.”

    Larry Cohen and Bill Lustig being woke in 1987. Too bad two scenes later, there’s a scene with a female cop working undercover as a prostitute who’s awfully sanguine about being harassed on the job by a prospective john. As the…

  • Rolling Thunder

    Rolling Thunder

    My library DVD crapped out on me halfway through, shortly after the big robbery scene. Apparently Schrader claims that the changes made to his script turned this from a film commenting on fascism into full on fascist propaganda, and from what I’ve seen I would agree. There’s something very Trumpian about the wish fulfillment going on in the parts I saw. The major is a forgotten man, victimized by everyone around him and yet stronger than any of them, a…

  • A La Mode

    A La Mode

    Watching this, I figured this had to be the secret origin of Terry Gilliam’s Monty Python animation, and, yep, Google reveals that Gilliam cites VanDerBeek as his direct inspiration for that work. And he ripped it off pretty much whole hog. Not just in terms of technique, but in all the little flourishes that contributed to the humor. It’s just that the source material for the collages is different here; Fifties advertising instead of antiquated illustrations. Unfortunately, those interstitials were my least favorite part of the Python shows, and I didn’t find this short anything other than annoying.

  • Don't Go in the House

    Don't Go in the House

    ★★★

    Sort of a working class Psycho with a blowtorch. It quickly establishes its stalker bonafides with a kill and then spends the rest of its runtime on Repulsion-style psychodrama following the troubled killer as he unravels over a weekend, with the scares coming from his hallucinations and deranged behavior.

    It’s low budget and looks OK, but is dated and staged with enough unintentional bathos that I can’t see modern audiences getting much out of it besides a laugh. Things like…