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Chris has written 67 reviews for films rated ★★ .

  • Dark City

    Dark City

    ★★

    I can see why this failed where The Matrix succeeded. It’s a competent Hollywood spectacle; it’s got great production values and a bombastic score to tell the audience how impressed they should be with it all. But it’s too insular and self-congratulatory, too much Hollywood trading on past glories as it so often loves to do. In 1999, The Matrix was something shockingly new. The Matrix was such a simple and flexible conceit that it became something mythic, tapping really…

  • Eaten Alive

    Eaten Alive

    ★★

    I was pleasantly surprised to see Roberta Collins’s name pop up in the title credits, only to be very disappointed by the pathetic Marion Crane character she’s forced to play in the prologue.

    This bites way too hard from Psycho, but I imagine it was made under some duress by Tobe Hooper and Kim Henkel, stuck with the job of replicating their earlier success with The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, only to achieve a much lesser effect here. Nothing builds;…

  • Rabid

    Rabid

    ★★

    Cronenberg has occasionally prided himself in interviews on somehow presaging the rise of stem cell research with the “morphogenetically neutral” skin grafts in Rabid, but I think he stole it from William S. Burroughs. It’s very similar in concept to the Undifferentiated Tissue which makes a memorably horrific appearance in the talking asshole bit from Naked Lunch. (Which obviously had an impact on him, given the passion project he underwent with his later film adaptation of the book. I think…

  • Take Me Home

    Take Me Home

    ★★

    This would have been a lot more tolerable if about 75% of the non-jokey shots were taken out. Disappointingly monotonous and interminable.

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • The Saddest Music in the World

    The Saddest Music in the World

    ★★

    “That was ten years ago, son. Can’t you ever forget anything?”

    I enjoyed the performances, but at some point I stopped tracking what was going on in the story at all and was just enjoying individual moments. Fully awake, but half-asleep sort of. It wasn’t an unpleasant way to pass the time, but I don’t intend to watch any more Maddin films.

  • City of the Living Dead

    City of the Living Dead

    ★★

    Nothing in City of the Living Dead lived up to the first time I saw the scene with the makeout couple on YouTube a few years ago. And I didn’t really feel the sense of creeping dread that I felt when I saw my first Fulci movie, Zombi, twenty-plus years ago. Maybe I’m too old.

  • Hotel Monterey

    Hotel Monterey

    ★★

    In theory this could have worked for me. I like Michael Snow and James Benning’s uses of silence and duration, and the way that Akerman uses framing and lighting here to create abstract compositions out of everyday places reminds me of the photography of Saul Leiter, which I also like very much. But sitting at home in front of a tiny screen with outside noise all around me, I never got into it. I liked the scenes where the elevator…

  • The Blood on Satan's Claw

    The Blood on Satan's Claw

    ★★

    Sexual desire as sinister Lovecraftian conspiracy seemed like a promising theme at the start, but the film never really takes it anywhere. It's just not that caliber of genre movie, although it is competently staged and there's a few artsy shots. And there's not enough gut genre thrills to make up for it. There's a few effectively sinister moments, but too much old-timey talk and not enough Satan really, and the climax is rushed and underwhelming. Angel Blake is kind…

  • Two Friends

    Two Friends

    ★★

    The synopsis given on Letterboxd for Two Friends is misleading. It’s not a relationship drama between the titular friends, more like a tragedy about one of the two helplessly watching the other’s life fall apart, and how between two kids with the same potential, one of their lives gets hopelessly derailed because of their shitty family background. The irony in the cheery letters she sends to her friend is often piquantly sad. The elliptical storytelling here lost me at some point, and the last half I was just watching mostly for completionism.

  • The Lady from Shanghai

    The Lady from Shanghai

    ★★

    "A lot of people admired his work, but he had no regard for anyone other than himself, quite honestly."

    "He didn't mind how much he hurt other people, but he got hurt."

    While I was watching this, I was thinking about the above quotes about Welles from this interview with a woman who worked for him during the production of Casino Royale. Rita Hayworth's character is bad and hateful because she's... willing to have sex with anyone other than Orson…