• Shock Corridor

    Shock Corridor

    ★★★★

    The horrors of insanity. Shock Corridor is a peculiar little movie, one with a lot of silliness even as it deals with harsh topics. It is filled with perverse and twisted ideas, images, and insinuations. An internal monologue is presented through voiceover and becomes gradually frightening as the lead's mental state deteriorates. He becomes trapped in his own mind, chasing fame at any cost and ultimately losing what matters. The world of Shock Corridor is small and enclosed, captured by…

  • College

    College

    College is a lesser Buster Keaton movie. It seems minor even by design, because it doesn't have the big stunts or sense of danger that his best films like The General possess. Mostly the film consists of Keaton making a fool of himself attempting various sports. The story is flimsy and centres on a typical Keaton plot about trying to impress a girl he loves. Yet here it seems particularly uninspired, especially considering he released Battling Butler a year earlier,…

  • The Act of Killing

    The Act of Killing

    ★★★★★

    Director's Cut

    The Act of Killing is utterly frightening. It explores the darkest side of humanity, not just those who killed but specifically those who are proud to have killed. Worse still, it was an extermination and nobody onscreen denies that or seems ashamed. Some may see The Act of Killing as recklessly platforming these monsters, but they have power and influence within their society regardless, and The Act of Killing at least gets their atrocities on record and raises…

  • Nope

    Nope

    ★★★★

    ***minor spoilers***

    Monetisation of spectacle. Nope is a film of exploitation, where animals and also people are forced into circumstances they do not understand. Film itself is a way to profit off the interesting and the dangerous, and characters in Nope similarly seek to benefit from the opportunity presented to them. You have to hustle in a capitalist society. Nope is therefore an unconventional UFO movie, one not about aliens in a direct sense. It is about the power of…

  • The Gray Man

    The Gray Man

    I'm writing this review only an hour after watching The Gray Man and I already find myself struggling to remember the film. I actually think it's not that bad, especially if you have low expectations, but it is very derivative and unoriginal. The Russo brothers have made very good movies within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but outside of that framework they seem to struggle. Like with Cherry they are presented with an opportunity to break free from Marvel's house style…

  • All That Jazz

    All That Jazz

    ★★★★½

    Summer 2022 Watchlist

    All That Jazz is a negative, cynical musical, one that takes glamour out of the theatre. Inspired by 8 1/2, the film is autobiographical and centres on a womanising director coming to terms with his life. The film travels inside his head, presenting us with songs from his deathbed. Fosse's film is unflattering and at times unpleasant, but that is its strength. It's a film with a personality and willing to dig beneath the surface of its…

  • The Big City

    The Big City

    ★★★★★

    Few films directors seem to have a heart as large as Satyajit Ray. His films find beautifully ordinary tension where both love and pain intersect. It is not just that his films are usually warm and sincere, but that they refuse to shy away from real struggle. They provide comfort because they depict hardship as merely a natural part of life. Pain is not necessarily the fault of anybody and happiness comes from within, through love, through family, through independence.…

  • Woman in the Dunes

    Woman in the Dunes

    ★★★★½

    Summer 2022 Watchlist

    Ominous, endless dunes. Woman in the Dunes is a strange allegory, one whose meaning is as unclear as dirt. In a way it could mean anything and represent all kinds of quests for liberation. It could be about our eventual surrender to mental and physical trappings, our desire to not escape. It could also be about freedom, and the way it seems wrong when easy or unearned. Yet it perhaps doesn't matter so much, since Woman in…

  • Incendies

    Incendies

    Summer 2022 Watchlist

    I was rather indifferent towards Incendies. It has some good ideas and striking imagery, but I don't think the story works. Incendies presents itself as a more considered, arthouse thriller, but in reality it's a more populist work, which is not a bad thing. It's just that as the story gets more ridiculous and relies on increasingly contrived twists to tug at the heartstrings, the film continues to take itself deadly seriously. Incendies is a film made…

  • It Happened One Night

    It Happened One Night

    ★★★★½

    There's nothing I can add to any discussion on It Happened One Night. It's just a great movie. The whole thing is so charming and funny, making it a real delight. Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert have a fun chemistry and there's a sexual tension that lingers throughout the movie, helped by the fact that it comes from the last days of the pre-code era. The characters are reckless and so feel destined for each other, with the film's eventual…

  • Osama

    Osama

    ★★★★

    Osama is notable as a film made in modern Afghanistan. It depicts the era of Taliban rule in unflinching detail. The oppressive society depicted gives no rights to women, and the sense of fear within the film is palpable. It is incredibly tense at times, knowing what potential dangers the characters are in. The main character is a girl disguised as a boy, apparently not an uncommon situation, and she must contend with her society's fundamentalist religious views on sex…

  • Benediction

    Benediction

    ★★★★½

    The work of a master. Terence Davies' biopic about Siegfried Sassoon is a film made with class and intelligence. It is elliptical and derived from a collection of different moments and ideas. The visuals are detached from time, with people unstuck on the screen and moving across various backgrounds. Despite Sassoon being a war poet, this is not a film set in the trenches. It is about life afterwards and as a whole, not just a few brief years. Scenes…