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  • The Sessions

    The Sessions

    ★★

    THE SESSIONS: man, i'm old enough to remember when Cinemax used to take some pride in their softcore stuff. #EmmanuelleInSpace

    "don't tolerate anything." that should have been my cue to walk out. exceedingly difficult to feel the danger of Mark O'Brien's surrogate sessions when the movie is so stultifyingly safe. reinforces all of the worst and supposedly humanistic hollywood tics, made all the more insidious by the self-satisfied gumption with which the movie thinks its being provocative. helen hunt is…

  • Ivan's Childhood

    Ivan's Childhood

    ★★★★½

    impressions of war. Tarkovsky's first tinkerings with time... florid, free-floating psychological imprints serving to underscore the banality of real-world war. 4 dreams bound by 1 nightmare. formative work from a hired gun, but masha hanging above the trenches and the well to the stars point towards a career that would ascend to worlds unknown.

    can't imagine it's a happy accident that Criterion is re-releasing this and THE TIN DRUM in the same month. echoes abound.

  • The Tin Drum

    The Tin Drum

    ★★★★

    Restored cut.

    THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON ÷ Emir Kusturica's UNDERGROUND + mad pubic hair and sexual taboo = THE TIN DRUM. what a beguiling film... hard to imagine such a resolutely strange, morally ambiguous epic winning an academy award in this day and age. David Bennent's alien embodiment of Oskar is one of the cinema's great child performances, embarrassing the precocious antics seen in infinitely easier fare like BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD. will review in full for Criterion Corner soon.

  • Ro.Go.Pa.G.

    Ro.Go.Pa.G.

    ★★★

    the hodgepodge feeling of this / any portmanteau film is somewhat muted by the sense of mad despondency that ties these 4 shorts together into an uneven but coherent whole. rossellini's segment, in which he baldly shills for Al Italia, exists on the shoulders of the same corporate catechism that Gregoretti's bit rages against. Godard's vaguely sci-fi offering concisely illustrates his fetishism for language and his gift for electrifying otherwise mundane imagery (panties = dull. a knife = dull. panties…

  • Dangerous Liaisons

    Dangerous Liaisons

    ★½

    mercilessly unerotic riff on the classic novel plays more like a gilded (scene-for-scene) remake of CRUEL INTENTIONS. squanders sexy people and rich period / political intrigue as it labors to go through the motions. luminously plastic cinematography, typical of recent chinese blockbusters, is a highlight... astounding how much CG can be squeezed into a tame romantic drama.

  • The Man Who Knew Too Much

    The Man Who Knew Too Much

    ★★★½

    formative hitchcock, occasionally *brushed* with greatness. the 75-minute picture has an odd gait, but the set-pieces are among hitchcock's greatest (beyond the royal albert hall sequence, the chair brawl is a classic comic tussle), the inimitable peter lorre is a twisted villain, and the whole thing is guided by a winking wit that picks up the slack left by its logic. when it comes to early hitchcock, i tend towards his slightly more coherent fare (i.e. THE LADY VANISHES), but this has ample rewards, and the loaded criterion edition is essential for even the most casual fans.

  • The Unspeakable Act

    The Unspeakable Act

    ★★★★

    modern rohmer. diminishes its craft and effect to be a tosser and say it would make for a great double-feature with THE COLOR WHEEL... but it would make a great double-feature with THE COLOR WHEEL (to see this film is to have that thought). eager to dig back in and get the lay of the land. more cogent thoughts to come, but this was something of a revelation.

  • Gate of Hell

    Gate of Hell

    ★★½

    filmed in ravishing eastman color and peppered with the inimitably ominous presence of machiko kyo, Kinugasa's chamber drama plays like a medieval Japanese riff on Douglas Sirk. exquisite to look at, but the narrative is lethargic, scattered, and ultimately banal.

  • Dredd

    Dredd

    ★★½

    Domhnall Gleeson, everyone. unapologetically nihilistic nuts & bolts approach works wonders, but CG blood and ill-conceived action beats gut the fun.

  • The Watch

    The Watch

    ★½

    saw on the flight back from england. maybe it's because i saw the film in the $800 premium D-Box experience in an oxygen-deprived atmosphere as i hurtled over the atlantic ocean in a metal tube of death, but i laughed a few times before the perfunctory plot suffocates things in the 3rd act.

  • Ministry of Fear

    Ministry of Fear

    ★★★

    in which Fritz Lang invented "Cake Noir."

  • Red Dawn

    Red Dawn

    ½

    As with any mediocre '80s movie that retains a small ironic foothold in contemporary culture, remaking John Milius' Red Dawn was inevitable. A gun-stroking orgy of jingoistic Cold War carnage starring a gaggle of Spokane teens fighting back the Soviet forces who've invaded their hometown, Milius' original film plays like an unholy cross between Battle of Algiers and Gleaming the Cube, streaked with scarlet paranoia and sticky with misspent testosterone. A few years ago, someone who hates money decided that…