• Benedetta

    Benedetta

    Another perfect collage of high/lowbrow erotica from Mr. Verhoeven. It also features what's a too-easy contender for this year's "Best Chekhov's Gun" Award -- as soon as I saw it I knew what was coming, and I fucking loved it!

  • Dark Water

    Dark Water

    A very compelling exploration of hereditary trauma wrapped around a serviceable, yet drab, horror film. It's at its best when exploring the tiny little scars on your chest when you're young, and how they perpetuate themselves over and over again throughout generations, like ever-growing ripples in a dark pond. It's a shame that the horror stuff, apart from a few genuinely unsettling images, feels so over-orchestrated and predictable -- dare I say, too formulaic. It sure might be a grower, but I can't help but feel a bit disappointed.

  • The Card Counter

    The Card Counter

    Subdued trauma weaved with the kind of Bressonian asceticism Schrader showcased in First Reformed, only here it also feels deeply connected to narrative's tissue. There's a certain softness, a delicate touch you may say, to the film's inherent ugliness, but the interesting thing here is that this yin-yang doesn't feel harmonious in the slightest, much on the contrary -- and that's a really good thing, hammering in this savory bipolar edge to every part of the filmmaking on display. Oh, and if you somehow needed further proof of how godly Oscar Isaac is as an actor, look no further.

  • The French Dispatch

    The French Dispatch

    To me, a perfect synthesis of all Wes Anderson's successes and failures as a storyteller. Tremendously accomplished stylistically speaking, but, apart from a few keys scenes (the last 15-20 minutes of this are particularly great), it's always lacking the needed emotional heft to make me care. Also, the theatre where I saw this had a real shitty sound system, and the projection was also too dark for it to be fully enjoyable for the eyes, so these two things may…

  • Spencer

    Spencer

    Larraín takes what worked best in Jackie and serves it along side all the emotional weight it desperately needed to make the experience fulfilling. Spencer never peters out, never becomes subservient to the usual biopic molds, in fact, it actively subverts them at any chance it gets (I would dare even say, it does so metatextually). The film is a constantly shifting kaleidoscope, reflecting, refracting overlayering itself with new moods and ideas, ripping into your ears with the sharp dissonance…

  • Kotoko

    Kotoko

    Let me just clear the one major negative I have with Kotoko: as is my usual feeling with Tsukamoto, the guy just doesn't know when to cap off his films. As much as I love and admire his work, he always stretches his material up to its thinnest point, leaving the overall experience feeling unbalanced. Besides this, I absolutely adored this one. It's right up there along the first Tetsuo as my favorite thing he's ever done. His use of…

  • Scream 2

    Scream 2

    Just as fun and likable as I expected, but if you take away its obsession with metatext you'll end up with kind of a hollowed-out shell of a movie, something the first film actually managed to avoid, in my opinion. I mean, if you're just looking for an entertaining 90s slasher than it more than scratches that itch (even if I do think it's a couple of notches below the first film). It sure as hell did, and I admittedly like it a bit. Still, can't help but feel just a tad conflicted.

  • The Old Dark House

    The Old Dark House

    It takes the usual "stranded on a haunted's house while it's pouring outside" and turns it into a sort of beguiling tub of eeriness that feels totally unlike vintage Hollywood drivel. It's just plain freaking weird, and it consistently says to hell with any sort of convenient explanation. You just gotta roll with it, and I sure as hell did.

  • House of Wax

    House of Wax

    Immediately my favorite nu-horror film. All of the yummy clichés are present, but goddamn! does the movie rock them to their fullest extent. Once it kicks, it never lets up! Great gore, great payoffs, and the production design... the stuff of legends.

  • Dune

    Dune

    Before anything else, let me just preface this by saying that, unfortunately, while I was watching Dune, I wasn't able to turn off that part of my brain the constantly sought to compare the on-screen narrative to its written counterpart. It's something I personally hate to do, since it actively harms my appreciation of a film as its own artistic beast, but, in this case at least, probably because I reread the book during the summer, I just couldn't stop…

  • Roar

    Roar

    Hooptober 8.0 #20

    Probably the most inherently chaotic assembly of images ever put to film. It's just straight up disaster after disaster, and it's so fucking entertaining one can't just help but appreciate the commitment. Massive kudos to every crew member of this thing, you guys did the lord's work.

  • Dead & Buried

    Dead & Buried

    Hooptober #17

    Becomes way too predictable way too soon, which is especially disappointing when half of its appeal early on comes from how totally bewildering and mysterious it is. The writing can be quite great and the ending is totally bonkers in the best way possible, but it just couldn't find a way to hook me all the way through.