• The Freshman

    The Freshman

    ★★★½

    Entirely too much football, especially when the movie makes fun of the notion of the triumphant underdog story then completely falls for it, but Jobyna Ralston is incredibly cute and charming as Lloyd’s love interest, the setpiece with the tailor following Harold around stitching his clothes at a party is genuinely inspired, and the film has some of the funniest title cards in any silent comedy I’ve seen, occasionally outpacing the slapstick.

  • The Lady from Shanghai

    The Lady from Shanghai

    ★★★★½

    Nothing makes everything else look like a joke quite like an Orson Welles picture.

  • Ingmar Bergman: Reflections on Life, Death, and Love with Erland Josephson

    Ingmar Bergman: Reflections on Life, Death, and Love with Erland Josephson

    ★★½

    For a while I was pretty bored listening to these two windbags prattle on about all the things about their lives I don’t find interesting — mostly, their lousiness and selfishness as fathers, husbands and humans — but then the conversation about death near the end floated in and totally rattled me. Such elegance and beautifully philosophical responses from both men, especially Bergman. And this is parroted in all of the writeups of this minimalist documentary I can find, but Malou von Sivers really is a superb interviewer who knows how to get tough, thoughtful conversation going.

  • Man with a Movie Camera

    Man with a Movie Camera

    ★★★★

    Long-ish review; watched on the MoC Blu-ray.

  • Rembrandt

    Rembrandt

    ★★★

    An admirably subtle script and a delicate performance by Charles Laughton as the troubled Dutch painter, but it remains disappointing that none of the rest of Korda’s historical biopics have the subversive comic energy of his first Laughton vehicle The Private Life of Henry VIII.

  • The Pilgrim

    The Pilgrim

    ★★★★

    Beats the living shit out of Going My Way, and 84 minutes shorter.

  • 127 Hours

    127 Hours

    ★★★★

    I still can’t figure out why I find this so compelling. Boyle certainly does pad it out with some unneeded flashiness, but something about the central conceit of being alone and the painstaking process of extricating oneself from a situation this dire just fascinates me and I think it’s a story that makes a strong case for a certain kind of freedom that I understand even if I’m not one to wander off into canyons. I’m a lot more cynical…

  • Erie

    Erie

    ★★★★

    At times, Kevin Everson's films oddly resemble the "actualities" made by the Edison and Lumiere companies toward the end of the nineteenth century; they all share with certain dark corners of Youtube an interest in pointing cameras where they won't necessarily capture anything that's anomalous from day-to-day norms, and therefore end up, even when staged, gathering undercurrents of life that might otherwise merely slip into the ether. Everson's short Old Cat, for instance, is simply two men on a fishing…

  • Summer of Soul (...or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)

    Summer of Soul (...or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)

    ★★★★

    There are material limits to the resolution that can be gleaned from the videotape records of the Harlem Cultural Festival, a multi-week event spanning the summer of 1969, and limits to the immersion one can achieve with this documentary constructed from them thanks to the regular intrusion of (invariably insightful, and well-chosen) interview segments contextualizing the event. Nevertheless it's a nearly unrelenting joy, especially on a big screen, and sounds miraculous. Highlights include 19 year-old Stevie Wonder's clavinet solo (I…

  • Tonsler Park

    Tonsler Park

    ★★★

    Stark 16mm photography of a polling place in Charlottesville in 2016. Makes its general point profoundly — the people who ensure that the world works as well as it can are universally unheralded, an observation which carries through to a lot of Everson’s shorter pieces — but then keeps doing it for an hour twenty. I admire the results and have some appreciation for the ambient slow-cinema technique, I just find it all very hard to watch after a certain point.

  • The Island of Saint Matthews

    The Island of Saint Matthews

    ★★★★

    Maybe Everson's hypnotic piecing together of memories of a 1973 flood in Westport, Mississippi won't mean as much to somebody whose own community hasn't had a similar reckoning with nature, but it's just as likely that its ethereal dramatization of the give-and-take between humans and water will rankle anyone on a certain wavelength through its fusion of the idyllic and terrible. All the way, there is a sense of human solidarity like nothing a straightforward documentary would capture, even as…

  • The Reckless Moment

    The Reckless Moment

    ★★★★

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

    The one negative attribute that stuck out in my mind from the first time I saw this (when it was a lot harder to access than it is now, thanks to Powerhouse/Indicator) was how outlandishly irritating the child actor David Bair was, chirping about chocolate cake and habitually refusing to put pants on. Revisiting the film I'm not convinced he isn't intentionally annoying -- what Ophüls depicts here is a world of microaggressions hurled at the heroine played by Joan…