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  • The Frozen Dead

    The Frozen Dead

    ★★★

    [Originally appeared at cinespect.com.]

    Like many forgotten horror movies, Herbert J. Leder’s The Frozen Dead astonishes mostly for its sheer bugfuck audacity. It’s the only movie I know that touches on that awkward teenage feeling of finding out that your uncle is a Nazi mad scientist who’s keeping your best friend’s decapitated head alive in his dungeon laboratory as part of a plan to create an army of zombie storm troopers. Forget rich allegory or fine feelings or even good…

  • The Gold Rush

    The Gold Rush

    ★★★★★

    [Originally appeared at the now-defunct cinespect.com.]

    In 1952, the British film journal Sight & Sound published the results of the first of its decennial lists of the greatest movies ever made, compiled from a survey of respected international critics. First place went to Vittorio De Sica’s neorealist masterwork The Bicycle Thieves (1948), but in second and third place came two Chaplin movies–City Lights (1931) and The Gold Rush (1925). Chaplin’s reputation as the cinema’s greatest artist, both as a filmmaker and…

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  • Color Me Obsessed: A Film About The Replacements

    Color Me Obsessed: A Film About The Replacements

    ★★★½

    A documentary about a great band that features no interviews with its members and, astoundingly, not one lick of the band's music on the soundtrack. In its place, you get to hear what Husker Du and The Decemberists and Dave Foley think about the band. And it's pretty damn good. They should do more music docs in this style. Just imagine: a Flamin' Groovies movie built entirely on the reflections of The Dictators, Pablo Cruise, and Peter Scolari. What could go wrong? Anyway, a conceptual wreck of a band bio that - in the spirit of the group it chronicles - somehow works regardless.

  • Pawn Sacrifice

    Pawn Sacrifice

    ★★

    A movie about Bobby Fisher with no real interest in dramatizing his obsessions and delusions. It's all very outside looking in, but not even disinterested in a clinical way - that would a least constitute an aesthetic - but uninterested in a clueless way, willfully looking past anything that gets in the way of hammering Fisher's chess genius into a conventional sports movie template. Grey, gutless, and so strenuously self-serious it almost teeters over into camp.

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  • Double Indemnity

    Double Indemnity

    ★★★★★

    All you need to make a movie is a girl, a gun, and a life insurance policy.

  • In the Mood for Love

    In the Mood for Love

    ★★★★★

    A movie about memory, and about clothes and food and cigarettes and Nat King Cole records, all of which play their part in a story not only of lost love, but of an ancient empire in which love collapsed in on itself in a quiet apocalypse. In his attention to minutiae, Wong realizes the aesthetic ambitions of the 1920s film theorist and filmmaker Jean Epstein, the prophet of photogénie, the fetishistic obsession with photographic detail and arrested gesture. In its…