• Onibaba

    Onibaba

    ★★★★

    A wild, acerbic portrait of the generation clash of the 1960s where the elders are jealous of the youth’s more carefree ways — all of that told in an elegantly bare story of horny farmers in 14th century Japan trying to survive.

  • Comes a Horseman

    Comes a Horseman

    ★★★★

    "Comes a Horseman explores the same topics as the paranoia trilogy, but does so by delighting in all the things that greedy, corrupt, decentralised and unaccountable power have destroyed. While the tireless work of the journalists in All the President’s Men was an isolated act of resistance, the time-consuming labour on the farm in Comes a Horseman is still a viable lifestyle. Although Pakula and cinematographer Gordon Willis underline the effort both activities require, Comes a Horseman presents it as a routine way of life."

    My piece on this beautiful and fascinating film for the BFI website

  • French Connection II

    French Connection II

    ★★★★

    A hoot! More mental and erratic than the airtight original, with everything hanging much more loosely. But this relative relaxation only makes the astonishingly violent action set pieces more shocking and thrilling. That ending is cinematic blunt force trauma.
    I’m not usually someone who cares that much about food in films, but I was pleased to see Hackman in this film eat some chocolate, then later have an extravagant ice cream. He deserves all the treats, especially considering the hell he goes through in this movie.

  • The French Connection

    The French Connection

    ★★★★★

    The film's fiercely matter-of-fact approach makes it as thrilling as it is nihilistic. Gene Hackman truly is one of the best, his particularly physical performance here is captivating. It’s like he’s burning off the screen... and yes, he is hot.
    I also loved rewatching it with the new knowledge that the main criminal who triggers the whole thing is played by Tony Lo Bianco, the charismatic lead from THE HONEYMOON KILLERS.

  • The Swimmer

    The Swimmer

    ★★★★

    I knew this film was “out there” but still... that’s a lot of movie. A bit heavy-handed at times but nevertheless powerful, with Lancaster leaning on the more unsettling side of his persona and an unhinged visual style that beautifully brings out the yearning of his character.

  • Madigan

    Madigan

    ★★★★

    A fascinating snapshot of a lifestyle and type of filmmaking on the way out: Widmark the dirty cop vs. Fonda the police commissioner who plays by the rules, both at a loss in a new world neither fully understands. Existential, violent and unresolved. Need to write about this one at length someday.

  • The Big Easy

    The Big Easy

    ★★★★

    Such a great mood lifter. The romcom meets the cop movie and sparks fly: lots of blood and guts, lots of sex, and lots of wit. Dennis Quaid is great as the easygoing rotten cop but Ellen Barkin steals the show in a very tricky role.

  • Cutter's Way

    Cutter's Way

    ★★★★

    While most 1970s/80s conspiracy thrillers derive their chilling effect from just how evil the powerful are, Cutter's Way creates a much more uncomfortable feeling where you’re not even sure there is a conspiracy at all, nor how you’d ever go about exposing it. This dizzying film repeatedly jumps back and forth between the intense terror of the thriller and the casual hangout vibe that Jeff Bridges naturally exudes.

  • The Vanishing

    The Vanishing

    ★★★★½

    The locations reminded me of my childhood, which was nice, but then I got past that and was better able to stare into the void. The clash between the economical visual style and the more languid, everyday rhythm of life pre- and post-tragedy is just breathtaking.

  • The Dead Pool

    The Dead Pool

    ★★★½

    Worth seeing just for the insane car chase through the streets of San Francisco between Clint and a tiny remote-controlled toy car. It is so, so silly.

  • The Killer Inside Me

    The Killer Inside Me

    ★★★

    Like many of Winterbottom’s films, this one feels a little rushed and doesn’t totally work, but Casey Affleck is undeniably amazing. His character's brief moments of genuine feeling breaking up his calculating and cruel ways are heartbreaking.

  • Narc

    Narc

    ★★★★

    Some of the narrative twists feel a bit far-fetched but they’re easily forgiven: it is such a beautifully crafted and heartfelt police thriller, with an almost documentary-style look and feel that makes the whole thing extremely vivid. Very draining, but in a very good way.