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irajoel has written 67 reviews for films rated ★★★★ .

  • Lady Bird

    Lady Bird

    ★★★★

    No this is not a biopic about Lady Bird Johnson but a smart funny sometimes sentimental little movie about a young teenager pushing against boundaries and borders that surround her young life. That young life lives in Sacramento circa 2002 and is the Lady Bird of the title. Her given name is Christine but she insists on being called Lady Bird and this 17 year old has a mind of her own. Played by the sublime and great 23 year…

  • Rebels of the Neon God

    Rebels of the Neon God

    ★★★★

    Rebels of The Neon God 1992

    As sharp and dangerous as a double edge razor blade. Made in 1992 this is the film that put Tsai Ming-liang on the map of the international film scene and with good reason. Recently restored to its deeply saturated neon colors, this is a swift and sharply focused film that concerns the lives of 4 troubled young people living in Taipei in various degrees of despair and disgust. Two of the young men are…

  • A Ghost Story

    A Ghost Story

    ★★★★

    All ghost stories (I'm talking movies here) are sad. Well maybe not some of the comedies but as a kid I was very sad when "Hold That Ghost" was over, and since it was on million dollar movie I could re-watch it a million times.
    I should say that I love ghost movies, they are one of my favorite sub genres and I think I've seen most of the really good and even not so good ones. That said the…

  • Heli

    Heli

    ★★★★

    A vivid and brutal depiction of the Mexican drug problem with all that goes with it. Set in a rural part of the country the film is directed by the young filmmaker Amat Escalante who won the best director prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 2013. Amat is certainly talented with a sure hand and a vivid eye for telling a story no matter how unpleasant that story might be.
    The film is simple. A family comprised of a…

  • Get Out

    Get Out

    ★★★★

    A big unexpected money maker and critical hit (it got a 99% rating on rotten tomatoes) from last Winter is this small scale labor of love horror film that wears it’s bleeding heart (metaphorically) and influences on its tattered sleeve.
    Written and directed by Jordan Peele who is a partner in the successful comedy team of Peele and Key this movie is not at all what you would expect from an African American comedian and is not for everyone but…

  • Things to Come

    Things to Come

    ★★★★

    This is the second great performance from Isabelle Huppert in 2016. The first was in “Elle”, which is the complete opposite of her work in this lean but complex work about a woman entering middle age and the pitfalls that fall on her. In other words its’ about life and how we handle it. In this film Huppert (who I consider our greatest actress working in film) plays Natalie a philosophy professor married for 25 years to another teacher of…

  • The Witness for the Prosecution

    The Witness for the Prosecution

    ★★★★

    No this is not your Billy Wilder version but a British tv movie that is based on the original short story that ran for a mere 20pgs. or so. I found it at my library and it will jangle the loose change in your pockets, and make your foot tap nervously, in other words its terrific. Set in the early 20's and lavishly produced and beautifully filmed it is still holds much of the story including the twists and turns…

  • Paterson

    Paterson

    ★★★★

    Paterson 2016

    A near perfect sweet gentle note about the art of making art from that unique and singular moviemaker Jim Jarmusch. Set in the run down rumble tumble once proud industrial New Jersey city of Paterson it stars the wonderful Adam Driver as Paterson (I kid you not) who drives a bus during the day. He listens to and observes his passengers as we do, and writes poetry during his lunch breaks down by the beautiful Paterson falls and…

  • Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench

    Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench

    ★★★★

    For all you La La Land lovers allow me to recommend Damien Chazelle's first film made when he was only 24. Shot on black and white 16mm film and running a tight 85 minutes this romantic triangle between an African American Jazz Trumpeter and his two back and forth white girlfriends is charming, quirky and lovely and this time we are in Boston with some scenes in New York City. Guy is a nice guy but a user of women.…

  • Elle

    Elle

    ★★★★

    Tangy and Delicious. Set in a beautiful Paris during Christmas this is a twisty and tangled tale of a strong business woman who is partners in a video game company which signals to us right off the bat that she runs a male oriented violent business.
    The film opens with a horrible rape and assault on Michele at her lavish home, and the aftermath of this assault makes up the bulk of the film with sides, slides and detours into…

  • The Night Of

    The Night Of

    ★★★★

    This 8 hour mini-series ran on HBO this summer, and since I don't have premium cable I had to wait until now to catch up with it, thanks to Netflix. For most of its running time this was a very compelling gripping crime justice slap in the face drama that was based on a British series and shows it roots and influences via the many crime dramas that fill the network's prime time. I don't watch any of them, but…

  • Moonlight

    Moonlight

    ★★★★

    ira joel haber. Moonlight 2016


    Seeing this film the other day made me realize why I love movies that tell a good story, and also why I make art, why I must tell my story and why artists all over the place have to tell theirs. This is a strong, lovely moving film set mainly in Florida in the 1980’s when living was hard, fast and drugged and sadly still is.
    The film travels time to tell the story of…