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  • DAU. Katya Tanya

    DAU. Katya Tanya

    ★★★½

    An obvious advantage of a film project structured in the way that the DAU project is is the ability to develop characters both as protagonists and as secondary characters; by showing us certain people through their own eyes and through the eyes of a revolving door of main characters, we get a richer, more complex view of this human matrix. Viewers watching the project in order of release will have seen this iteration of Dau and Nora twice (in Nora…

  • Ham on Rye

    Ham on Rye

    ★★★½

    Among the best debut features of the 2010s, Ham on Rye unites the humanism and attention to detail of Robert Bresson with a uniquely subdued style of direction and aesthetic sensibility that feels to be inspired by some of modern American cinema's more sincere, soul-baring filmmakers (to varying degrees, Linklater, Zemeckis, and Shyamalan). Such is the level of cinematographic and directorial talent on display that should the dialogue have been cut, little would have changed in our understanding of its…

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  • My Favorite Wife

    My Favorite Wife

    ★★★

    Despite its brief runtime, My Favorite Wife feels like a slog at times. Its screwball narrative set-up is promising, but there is a bit too much repetition in its gags and mix-ups, and though Cary Grant and Irene Dunne are great as always, the supporting cast isn't quite as entertaining. This takes a lot of cues from The Awful Truth from three years earlier (from its two leads to its remarriage story to an almost identical final scene), and it doesn't really hold a candle to that masterpiece.

  • All About Eve

    All About Eve

    ★★★½

    All About Eve has one of the better ensemble casts that I've seen in a film, but Anne Baxter's performance as the title character is truly astounding, with such an inspired blend of sweetness and diabolical bite as to render the apparent insanity of the rest of the characters totally understandable. The film's web of lies and loyalties drives a very interesting intrigue that does well to reflect back on its characters and finds a worthwhile purpose in the drama.…

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  • The Shape of Water

    The Shape of Water

    After having seen only three of his films, I'm starting to think that Guillermo del Toro chooses to work in a "fairy tale" register because it means that he gets to be lazy with characterization and thematic development, chalking it up to the simplicity of the form. There is little other excuse that I can think of for why the villains in his films, perhaps true for The Shape of Water even more than for Pan's Labyrinth, seem to be…

  • Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

    Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

    ★★★★½

    Visually, Birdman is a beautiful film whose appearance as one unbroken take allows us to understand the complexity of life behind the Broadway stage and the fast-paced nature of the world of theatre. It is this world where we find Riggan Thomson, a washed-up actor who is about to star in a stage adaptation of What We Talk About When We Talk About Love that he both wrote and directed but who struggles with his own descent from fame. Despite…