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  • Annihilation

    Annihilation

    ★★½

    As meticulously designed and filmed as you'd expect, but maybe Alex Garland just isn't an accomplished enough visual stylist to pull off the kind of hypnotic mood piece intended here. What read on the page as subtly unnerving and uncanny comes across onscreen as a pretty familiar monster movie. I saw this after a string of other movies concerned, in one way or another, with the theme of people's inner nature being changed against their wills, and though Garland takes…

  • Sleepy Hollow

    Sleepy Hollow

    ★★★½

    For a filmmaker obsessed with the theme of the outsider, and perhaps more successful than any other of recent decades in putting a personal stamp on mass-market product, Tim Burton has created a rather heartless body of work. This travesty of Washington Irving's short story, at least in my childhood still well-known from the Disney animated adaptation if not from actual readings, is one of his nastiest, with lots of cartoonish gore and also a few genuinely upsetting killings that…

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  • Hold Back the Dawn

    Hold Back the Dawn

    ★★★★

    Excellent mix of comedy and melodrama from a Wilder/Brackett script and directed by Mitchell Leisen, one of the lesser-known masters of Golden Age Hollywood. More of an earnest social message than Wilder usually allowed himself, maybe because this was pre-Red Scare. There's also an ingenious framing device, not unlike DOUBLE INDEMNITY and SUNSET BOULEVARD, but especially intriguing here for how quasi-"meta" it is. DeHavilland and Boyer are also a little looser in their performances than you'd expect from what is ultimately, essentially, a traditional love story.

  • The Day of the Jackal

    The Day of the Jackal

    ★★★★½

    A childhood favorite--it's been in the back of my mind to rewatch this ever since I read of Steven Spielberg claiming its influence on MUNICH (so, obviously, for a while.) It clearly is that in the vintage and the locations, which are beautifully captured by Jewish European emigre Fred Zinnemann--I wonder how he felt about this extensive return tour of the Continent? Another possible influence--or at least point of comparison--is NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, in the procedural, show-the-scenes-other-movies-leave-out approach…