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  • We

    We

    ★★½

    On paper, Wij is right up my alley: unsupervised youth, sexual impropriety, the dark side of freedom, multiple perspectives, all wrapped up in the classic One Crazy Summer trope. In execution, however, it's an ugly, underwritten toe-dip into depravity that lacks both nuance and authenticity and, perhaps most gallingly, uses cloying, amber-hued, sun-flared slow motion set to music by the likes of Debussy and Nick Drake to shorthand a wistful, halcyon nostalgia that is, at best, unearned and, at worst,…

  • Hollywood Ending

    Hollywood Ending

    ★★★½

    I'm tempted to say this is another case of Not as bad as I remembered it, since my first time viewing it in about fifteen years was surprisingly enjoyable, but unlike Jade Scorpion, which I contemporaneously viewed as an outright misfire and now simply view as an intermittently charming misfire, Hollywood Ending struck me as a fine film upon release and strikes me just about the same now.

    Whereas with Jade Scorpion I remembered only what I didn't like about it, what…

  • The Curse of the Jade Scorpion

    The Curse of the Jade Scorpion

    ★★★

    I first saw this during its theatrical release, and at the time considered it as close to a complete failure as a Woody Allen devotee such as myself could label one of his films. The cast felt wrong, the pace was slack, many jokes fell flat, even the poster was disappointing. Small Time Crooks, which preceded it, was lightweight, but it was fun; The Curse of the Jade Scorpion, on the other hand, was not.

    Revisiting it almost twenty years…

  • Come and See

    Come and See

    ★★★★★

    A masterpiece of sustained, wrenching anguish, made all the more harrowing by also conjuring one of the most lyrical, sublime moments of beauty in the history of the cinema. Klimov offers neither answers nor solace for the unspeakable atrocities mankind commits against itself, against nature, against all creatures great and small -- this is a prolonged, guttural howl of rage and resentment, a stanchion against hopelessness, and a testament to the power of the moving image to convey viscerally that…

  • Horse Girl

    Horse Girl

    ★★★½

    Often Sara(h) would have spells where she lost time / she saw the future, she heard voices from inside

  • Lost Holiday

    Lost Holiday

    ★★★½

    Highly implausible, yes, but also highly entertaining, with a wealth of style and a cutting subtext about privilege and arrested development. Kate Lyn Sheil is one of the most quietly commanding actresses out there and this is easily some of her best work.

  • The Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda

    The Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda

    I will happily concede that the esoteric symbolism at play here was lost on me beyond its most general implications, but to see Ira Cohen's famed Mylar chamber photography in motion is a thing of great, powerful beauty: an unmooring and utterly transfixing trip through a fractured funhouse mirror of Mercury madness and liquid perception.

  • Hustlers

    Hustlers

    ★★★½

    Please give me an entire movie of Frank Whaley's skeezeball Martin Scorsese impersonation.

  • Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese

    Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese

    ★★★★½

    There is a lot to unpack here, even as the film sits back, arms crossed, laughing to itself about all those poor souls undertaking the fools' errand of trying to unravel fact from fiction, missing wholesale the greater, grander truths laid bare before them.

    If you're not the young New England woman as the house lights come up fighting to retain composure before finally succumbing to the depth of your emotions and the deluge of your tears, weightless and freighted with…

  • Jesus, You Know

    Jesus, You Know

    ★★★★

    A slyly engrossing formalist twist on the silence of God, which uses a series of confessions and confidences to create an austere portrait of projection -- of guilt, of hope, of doubt, of fear, of culpability, of agency -- and dependence, particularly the way that frustrated interpersonal connections can be sublimated into spiritual longing.

    I don't for a second buy the documentary conceit (there are two credited screenwriters, including Seidl) but neither do I believe that there isn't a vérité…

  • Vice

    Vice

    ★★★

    It's either its greatest strength or its biggest flaw, but Adam McKay's portrait of Dick Cheney plays very much like a civics book for kids (like, for instance, We The People: The Story of the Constitution, written by none other than Cheney's wife Lynne): distilled to its essence, gussied up with colorful illustrations, and simplified to aid comprehension, more concerned with breadth than depth.

    This isn't an inherently bad thing -- not every political biopic needs to be Nixon --…

  • The Other Side of the Wind

    The Other Side of the Wind

    ★★★★

    There is, unsurprisingly, far too much to unpack here after only a single viewing, so I will not even try to untangle and explicate the refracted autobiography at the film's narrative center or speculate how much of its collage-like assemblage was by design rather than out of necessity. (Or, for that matter, how much can properly be credited to Welles and how much was speculation and conjecture by Marshall, Bogdanovich, Murawski, and company.)

    For the time being, I'll content myself…