• Young Törless

    Young Törless

    ★★★

    59/100

    Been roughly 30 years since I read Musil’s novel (in a German lit class at NYU), and I can’t honestly claim to recall it with clarity; still, the sordid aspects struck me forcefully enough that I recognize how much Schlöndorff watered it down.

    (Rest of the review, along with everything else I write, available via ultra-cheap subscription. Seriously, it’s as little as $1 a month and for now that pays my rent.)

  • Il Buco

    Il Buco

    ★★★

    57/100

    Gotta respect the purity—unsubtitled dialogue, anonymous non-characters, negligible context—and yet it’s still not rigorous enough for my taste.

    (Rest of the review, along with everything else I write, available via ultra-cheap subscription. Seriously, it’s as little as $1 a month and for now that pays my rent.)

  • This Much I Know to Be True

    This Much I Know to Be True

    ★★½

    50/100

    Think maybe I goofed.

    (Rest of the review, along with everything else I write, available via ultra-cheap subscription. Seriously, it’s as little as $1 a month and for now that pays my rent.)

  • An Officer and a Gentleman

    An Officer and a Gentleman

    ★★½

    49/100

    Second viewing, last seen, oh, sometime during the late ‘80s, I’d guess. Don’t remember what I thought back then, but opening your movie with a bunch of urine-stained flashbacks establishing the protagonist’s traumatic childhood is pretty much guaranteed to alienate me nowadays.

    (Rest of the review, along with everything else I write, available via ultra-cheap subscription. Seriously, it’s as little as $1 a month and for now that pays my rent.)

  • The Old Man & the Gun

    The Old Man & the Gun

    ★★½

    49/100

    So insubstantial that I’m kind of amazed it still exists—seems as if it should’ve evaporated about three weeks after release, or been dispersed by the gentlest of breezes.

    (Rest of the review, along with everything else I write, available via ultra-cheap subscription. Seriously, it’s as little as $1 a month and for now that pays my rent.)

  • Threads

    Threads

    ★★★½

    66/100

    Well that was upsetting.

    (Rest of the review, along with everything else I write, available via ultra-cheap subscription. Seriously, it’s as little as $1 a month and for now that pays my rent.)

  • The Disciple

    The Disciple

    ★★★

    56/100

    Lacks the breadth and complexity of Court (which I quite liked), devoting its undivided attention to a guy who spends roughly 15 years festering in denial about his blatant mediocrity. Now, I say "blatant" as if I know a damn thing about Indian classical music, which is emphatically not the case; had someone deviously replaced the English subtitles with dialogue that makes Sharad an unappreciated genius, I'd never have known the difference—it's all "improvised keening over a drone" to…

  • Mike's Murder

    Mike's Murder

    ★★

    38/100

    Yeesh, what a mess. I'm gonna tackle the film that actually exists before speculating about the film that Bridges may have intended to make, but it's hard to imagine any version that wouldn't seem fundamentally misguided, if only because this is essentially a memorial that's been poorly disguised as some sort of half-assed thriller. There's really no way to fix that via editing. It's baked in conceptually.

    Mike's Murder as released—the only cut that's ever been made available to…

  • Short Vacation

    Short Vacation

    ★★★★

    71/100

    People are inevitably gonna get the wrong impression when I describe this as a distaff Korean Stand by Me, but that's nonetheless broadly accurate. In lieu of going to look at a dead body, the film has its four teen* girls—the only members of their school's photography club—tasked, per one of those irritatingly "creative" assignments favored by a certain kind of would-be hip teacher, with taking pictures of "the end of the world" over summer break. Choosing to interpret…

  • Tokyo Olympiad

    Tokyo Olympiad

    ★★½

    49/100

    No point in belaboring this—I’m not a sports guy, never watch the Olympics unless compelled by circumstance, had no desire to sit through three hours of edited highlights. (Criterion completism: There is no vaccine*.) Held out a little hope because I’d always heard that Ichikawa takes a more abstract approach, emphasizing aesthetics rather than competition; there’s a bit of that, and I appreciated every shift to slo-mo (did this influence Chariots of Fire?) and extreme close-up (rifle-shooting sequence a…

  • Paper Moon

    Paper Moon

    ★★★★½

    87/100

    At least second viewing, last seen 25+ years ago. "Exasperated adult compelled to care for precocious kid; later, they bond" has long been one of my least favorite subgenres, with only Zonca's Julia (which cheerfully torches any cloying aspects) qualifying as an exception. I'd forgotten about Paper Moon, though, and now find that I can't make a credible case for it as subversive or idiosyncratic or otherwise non-conforming. Fits the template to a T. It's just great. What the…

  • Canyon Passage

    Canyon Passage

    ★★★½

    70/100

    "What's your idea of a friend?"
    "Any man, I suppose, who believes as I do that the human race was a horrible mistake."

    That exchange would leap out of virtually any context, but it's especially noteworthy here—spoken by a very minor character whose stated nihilistic worldview doesn't affect the narrative in any significant way. An odd choice for a throwaway moment, and I found myself returning to it as Canyon Passage, which struck me as sprawling and unfocused for…