• The Descent

    The Descent

    Even better than I’d recalled, which was a pleasant surprise— I was actually a little nervous to revisit this one. The creature designs were solid and quite scary, and the film does a great job at both building and sustaining tension with its claustrophobic atmosphere and group dynamics. This is a great example that you can take a relatively small budget (£3.5 million in this case) and make gold out of it.

  • House of Wax

    House of Wax

    The premise is a dud and the performances are actively bad, but once it gets rolling it’s actually a surprising amount of fun. Some cool death scenes and really impressive set design elevate this juuuuust enough to receive a passing grade.

  • Bo Burnham: Inside

    Bo Burnham: Inside

    Not a fan of musical comedy and not a fan of 80's electro music, but somehow this got to me in a way I wasn't expecting-- even despite the chorus of friends urging me to watch it for months. Easily Burnham's best work to date, though I've always maintained he is immensely talented but not my cup of tea. The humanism on display cuts through the automatic pretense of the genres he works within. That's what makes this truly special.

  • Spectre

    Spectre

    Has some pacing issues and the chemistry between Craig and Seydoux is virtually nonexistent, but most of the big action set pieces work well and the cinematography looks great. Better than Quantum of Solace, beneath Casino Royale. Slightly better than many people seem to give it credit for-- I have to believe that is entirely due to the unfair drop off from how terrific Skyfall is in comparison.

  • Lady in the Water

    Lady in the Water

    Yeah, it’s a mess and it feels longer than it is and it has that overly-earnest writing that M Night can’t help but indulge himself in— but there’s something endearing about the whole thing still. Something that, while it doesn’t allow you to overlook the hammy performances and progressively silly narrative, permits you to take it all in stride. This is not a good movie, but it’s not nearly as bad as you’ve been led to believe.

  • Fahrenheit 11/9

    Fahrenheit 11/9

    Like most of his films, Michael Moore‘s Fahrenheit 11/9 is a schizophrenic mess of ideas and subjects that he finds resonant and timely. And he’s not wrong. And it’s fairly entertaining. But it’s also a mess. A well-meaning mess with no real solutions or answers offered to the  central questions it posits.

  • The Matrix Reloaded

    The Matrix Reloaded

    Roy Jones Jr. has a speaking part and is in multiple scenes with multiple lines. That right there ought to tell you all you need to know. Harold Perrineau is used simply for reaction shots after Neo flies through the sky to catch someone about to die.
     Reloaded is far more style-over-substance than its predecessor, and the acting sequences are no longer groundbreaking or fresh— especially when the video game CGI is relied on more heavily than practical effects. But there’s enough that does work just enough for it to be a decent time spent once every 10-12 years.

  • The Guilty

    The Guilty

    Jakey G sure loves to act.
    Look, it’s tight and well-paced— but this movie writes some cheques that the script just can’t cash. I admire the effort, and even enjoy some aspects of it, but things really start to come apart in the 3rd act. Not the best, or worst, work from everyone involved.

  • Raw

    Raw

    Well-made in most all important aspects— direction, acting, score, cinematography. But I had difficulty getting my arms all the way around it, due to the illusory nature of the narrative and the ultra-violence of it all. This is not my genre, but I see why horror-heads revere it so highly. I’ve a feeling Titane will be much more up my alley.

  • The Forgotten

    The Forgotten

    A tightly-paced paranoia thriller until precisely the 1-hour mark, when it takes one of the sharpest turns in cinematic history. And I, for one, appreciate it. It’s terrifying and ridiculous fun, all at the same time. Granted, it’s poorly directed and the editing is irritating, but underneath the aesthetic issues, there’s a really entertaining film here. And it’s buoyed by some fairly solid performances from actors you expect to elevate this kind of pulpy material and, as is ultimately the case, save it from itself. Just barely.

  • The Mexican

    The Mexican

    Yeah, there’s a few too many moving parts and it loses steam near the finish line— but Pitt & Roberts are magnetic movie stars and Gandolfini gives a wonderfully layered performance all things considered. It’s a fun ride and the script plays perfectly to each actor’s strengths. Nice supporting roles for JK Simmons and Bob Balaban serve as the icing on the sundae. Gore Verbinski is a bizarre director, man.

  • Devs

    Devs

    I don’t like television on Letterboxd, but I’ll make an exception here because not only do I think Devs is the best thing to come to TV in years, I think it is the best terrestrial sci-fi series ever made. Maybe the best sci-fi show period. It’s perfect. And a rewatch is incredibly rewarding, with delightful details you don’t notice the first time around and additional existential questions popping up all over the place. Did I mention Devs is perfect? It is.