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  • The Asphyx

    The Asphyx

    ★★★½

    [Originally appeared at cinespect.com.]

    The Asphyx amounts to the melancholic flailing of a dying film tradition. As such, its neglected status is easy to fathom. If setting trends usually guarantees posterity, then being a belated relic of an outmoded style always guarantees instant obscurity—thus we remember 1967 as the year of Bonnie and Clyde and The Graduate, not as the year of Charlie Chaplin’s A Countess from Hong Kong and Joseph Mankiewicz’s The Honey Pot. In horror film history, 1973…

  • The Blood on Satan's Claw

    The Blood on Satan's Claw

    ★★★★

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

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

    As the ‘60s faded into the ‘70s, British horror movies turned vicious, and movies like Michael Reeves’s The Conqueror Worm(1968) and Terence Fisher’s Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969) avoided the comforting tidiness and blurry but profound moral distinctions that had characterized British genre cinema for two decades. Piers Haggard’s spooky, nightmarish 1971 period horror film Blood on Satan’s Claw mirrors the mood of that era with its tale of demonic, galvanic evil messily…

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  • The Neighbor's Wife and Mine

    The Neighbor's Wife and Mine

    ★★★★½

    An exuberant, masterful collection of comic skits on domestic life and westernization, with Gosho exhibiting an expert but playful understanding of film sound that bests much of what was being produced in Hollywood at this point. So fleet and anecdotal (and short - just under an hour) in its structure and manner, it's easy to see why many dismiss it as a trifle, but there's a giddy poetry in the way it tries to contain a multitude of moods and ideas, both formal and philosophical, about love and patience and pleasure as an old order slowly dissolves in wake of the new and the foreign.

  • Blackmail

    Blackmail

    ★★★

    Good embittered Robinson performance in a programmer that uneasily mixes proto-noir brutal lyricism with a mawkish streak that leads to an overly tidy ending. Still, a handful of startling moments, like when a man's jacket begins smoking from the heat as he's being dragged toward an oil fire or the scene where Robinson hitches a ride by perilously bracing himself underneath a car, that animate a movie that at its intermittent best feels like it was slightly ahead of its time.

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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…