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Chris has written 108 reviews for films rated ★★★★ .

  • Frankenhooker

    Frankenhooker

    ★★★★

    The faces Patty Mullen makes in Frankenhooker are so great. Even when it just involves her photograph; all the gags about the absurd places her face is taped up around the mad scientist’s lab work perfectly. (My favorite is a cut to her innocent smile stuck on the head of the Visible Man.) And then when she appears as the titular monster in the end, she’s not the butt of the joke. The situation’s funny because she’s selling it with…

  • The Return of the Living Dead

    The Return of the Living Dead

    ★★★★

    On this rewatch, I could very clearly hear the voice of the writer responsible for Dark Star. Here we’ve got the same kind of hapless idiots squabbling and desperately trapped for our anusement. That’s both good and bad; O’Bannon’s humor is witty and clever but also sophomoric, dumb in a kind of winking way. Yet I also find his cynicism a little abrasive and his dopiness disarmingly charming. And the ramshackle and meandering pacing that gives life to the dialogue…

  • Salem's Lot

    Salem's Lot

    ★★★★

    Hooper goes back to things that worked in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and were sorely missing from Eaten Alive. Real world locations, a slowly gathering sense of dread; when the horrific intrudes on the everyday reality of the village, it really makes an impact, and the shocks here really get to pop. There’s a scare in here that literally made me jump out of my seat. I imagine it must have traumatized any kids watching this when it first…

  • The Brood

    The Brood

    ★★★★

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

    The shot of the drunk granddad being maudlin at the site of his ex-wife’s death is well-acted, but uses a really dumb movie convention. They cleaned the crime scene spotlessly but left a tape outline behind for the family to feel bad about? It’s a reminder that this is a movie released for the exploitation circuit that’s punching well above its weight. The unconvincing blood splatters during the bludgeoning attack scenes were also distracting, looking as chintzy and daubed on…

  • Liquid Sky

    Liquid Sky

    ★★★★

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

    I have also reached moments in my life like Margaret's cry of "Noooo" as she comes to the realization that she's been living a life completely devoid of pleasure. Her desperate final act could be read as an act of suicide or a move toward transcendence; take your pick.

    Not the most technically perfect film in the world, but impressive considering the conditions it was made under. There's probably a little too much time spent with the German scientist and…

  • City on Fire

    City on Fire

    ★★★★

    I've seen people shit on City on Fire to defend Reservoir Dogs, and it seems so unnecessary to me. They both have different things going for them; in this case the vital energy of the scenius of the Golden Age of Hong Kong Film in conjunction with great location-shot action sequences and the sheer star power of Chow Yun Fat. It is a work of entertainment that does its job well.

    That final shot is epically absurd. I kind of…

  • BlacKkKlansman

    BlacKkKlansman

    ★★★★

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

    The film itself is OK, but for me it was really a set-up and preamble for the intense anger I felt watching the real footage from Charlottesville at the end.

  • 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…

  • Spider Baby

    Spider Baby

    ★★★★

    From the little I knew about Spider Baby, I was expecting a grungy exploitation pic, but it turned out to be a really well-constructed, deliberately paced frightfest, kind of campy and trashy and very self-aware, with some deliberate nods to the Sixties monster craze. It’s sort of Psycho meets The Addams Family, with some obvious lifts from the former and a similar set-up and straights versus the freaks theme from the latter. I guess it must have been an influence…

  • The Meetings of Anna

    The Meetings of Anna

    ★★★★

    That shot of Anna crying in the back of a taxi cab with all the out of focus street lights behind her seems tailor made for inclusion in a classy video essay about the wonders of film.

  • News from Home

    News from Home

    ★★★★

    I wish I had seen this in a theater, because I love this approach: quietly observational documentary with a fixed camera and long takes, mundane landscapes and environmental sounds. At home I was busy thinking about my personal life when I should have been people watching with Akerman. I love that this is so devoid of ego. The letters are as mundane as the landscapes, and it seems like Akerman is confessing that she was living off her mom while she was away immersing herself in avant-garde film.

  • La Chambre

    La Chambre

    ★★★★

    A single shot that slowly pans around and around the walls of Akerman’s one room apartment as she lies in bed. At one point she appears to be masturbating; at another she eats an apple while staring at the camera. All in total silence. Domicile as inner sanctum, I guess? As an apartment dweller who lives alone, I can relate to that.