• The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

    The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

    ★★★★★

    "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" is the first movie I saw where I saw cinema as something that could be grand and artistic, more than just simple entertainment. It's funny, because the plot to the film would be right at home in a disposable men's paperback western novel from a gas station. Yet Leone imbues his film with an operatic tone, with his grand vistas and craggy close ups, as well as making violent encounters all about the…

  • Babette's Feast

    Babette's Feast

    ★★★★

    A French woman brings an evening of culinary pleasure to community of seemingly gnostic Danish puritans. Their version of Christianity denies the body, they hold positions that include ideas that getting married and having a family is a worldly illusion at best. You will also notice the people in their community slowly aging out of existence.

    The meal provided by Babette, who has been taken in by their community after a political upheaval in France, is initially a horrifying prospect.…

  • Blind Chance

    Blind Chance

    ★★★½

    Krzysztof Kieślowski explores the significance any given moment in our lives can have. The protagonist's attempt to catch a train plays out in three different scenarios, each having small differences that fundamentally alter the course of his existence. Kieślowski's use of this simple concept has been mined by many subsequent films, yet none have the poetry Kieślowski brings to it here, exploring not only the rippling effect of seemingly insignificant events, but also how politics inform interpersonal relationships. What's impressive is that Kieślowski's work would only improve as the Iron Curtain lifted away from eastern Europe and his career in film sailed on.

  • Streets of Fire

    Streets of Fire

    ★★½

    "Streets of Fire" evokes "Star Wars" with its opening, waxing poetic about "another time, another place" before setting up a fantasy world of bikers, pompadours, guitars, and rock n' roll. It's a galaxy far, far away for greasers.

    This broad concept is a focused one. The minutiae of it is not. Is "Streets of Fire" a musical? Is it an action movie? A romance? Is it for adults? Teens? The opening has your blood pumping with Jim Steinman music, bikes,…

  • Hard Times

    Hard Times

    ★★★½

    Walter Hill's impressive debut is a steady-handed, cool expression of old-Hollywood rugged movies for men, free of the tired, subversive commentary that typically comes with movies from the seventies made by the movie brat generation.

    Charles Bronson is his bad self, expressing himself with side-glances, smirks and fists, with as few words as possible. The real star of the show is James Coburn as the shifty fight manager with a shark's grin, navigating the deadly waters of depression-era New Orleans,…

  • Ball of Fire

    Ball of Fire

    ★★★

    "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves" via L'Chateau Autiste. It's incredible how Gary Cooper can be just as convincing as an awkward, beanpole professor as he can be as a rugged man of the west. Barbara Stanwyck plays a similar criminally-minded woman with a heart of gold as she does in Preston Sturges' "The Lady Eve" and it's a scream. Howard Hawks' taut direction and Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett's snappy dialogue make this screwball comedy worth checking out, once…

  • John Wick: Chapter 2

    John Wick: Chapter 2

    ★★★½

    Joins the likes of "The Raid 2" in terms of great sequels to refreshing, original action films. "John Wick" is the best vehicle for Keanu Reeves since "The Matrix", and now "John Wick" can get a leg up by boasting that its sequels don't suck.

  • The Lost City of Z

    The Lost City of Z

    Adventure movies that aren't based on comics are such a rarity these days, I was excited to see James Gray's "The Lost City of Z", which looked to be a Herzog-inspired tale of obsession in the jungle. The only obsession that grips Gray, however, is anti-Anglo madness.

    The supposed Amazonian obsession felt by Charlie Hunnam's lead character never connects. When the audience can't share in the madness of its lead (think Richard Dreyfuss in "Close Encounters"), the protagonist is simply…

  • Ghost in the Shell

    Ghost in the Shell

    A remake that replaces the layered themes of consciousness and identity of the original, and replaces it with the sort of "Mary Sue Smashes Capitalism" formula narrative you would expect from, say, a Joss Whedon movie. This film simply takes a name brand property and molds it into a Scarlett Johansson action vehicle. A Black Widow movie wouldn't be much different, and probably just as interesting.

  • Bitter Harvest

    Bitter Harvest

    ½

    A cringe-inducing, blown opportunity to dramatically explore one of the many ignored crimes of the Soviet Union.

    My full review: www.midnightmoviecowboys.com/e/hlatm-1-bitter-harvest/

  • Chimes at Midnight

    Chimes at Midnight

    ★★★★

    I can't help but wonder if Aleksei German had this movie in mind when he constructed his phantasmagorical medieval alien planet for "Hard to be a God". Orson Welles' "Chimes at Midnight" presents a filthy, grimy fifteenth century world, with a thunderously fat Welles at the center, sweating, drinking, and thieving his way through England as Shakespeare's recurring comic character, Falstaff. "Chimes at Midnight" serves as a tribute to this character, and he is clearly beloved to Welles, as he…

  • Alien: Covenant

    Alien: Covenant

    ★★½

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

    There's more to like in Ridley Scott's "Alien Covenant" than in his unfocused prequel, "Prometheus", yet Scott still can't seem to decide if he wants to break away from the "Alien" franchise, or reside comfortably within it.

    "Covenant" is a sandwich, with box-ticking acts that in the front and back that give the viewer the sort of thing they expect from an "Alien" movie. A roughneck crew, a mysterious planet, a cyclopean, extinct race. It climaxes with the sort of…