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irajoel has written 73 reviews for films rated ★★★★ .

  • The Rider

    The Rider

    ★★★★

    If you like movies about horses, (and who doesn’t) I recommend taking a look at what might be my favorite movie so far this year. This is a small beautiful movie about a young cowboy living on the Lakota Sioux reservation in the South Dakota badlands with his father and sister and trying to come to grips with his life after a near fatal accident he had while doing a rodeo. His head is smashed and his rodeo days look…

  • Private Romeo

    Private Romeo

    ★★★★

    Set in the McKinley Military Academy during a recess of some kind, this intimate and moving adaptation of Romeo and Juliet stars a young and vibrant all male cast playing all the parts both male and female. Why these 8 cadets are the only ones left at the school is never mentioned, maybe its punishment for some infractions, but as I said it’s never mentioned. It begins with a class reading the play with the young cadets casually and jokingly…

  • The Witness

    The Witness

    ★★★★

    I had just turned 17, living in Brooklyn with my family when this horrible story broke, and it truly affected me in a bad way. Now I finally caught up with the riveting documentary about the murder of Kitty Genovese, made and featuring her brother Bill who lost both legs in Viet Nam but this doesn't stop him from having a full life and determined to find out the truth about the murder of his older sister. This is a…

  • T-Men

    T-Men

    ★★★★

    A new transfer of this hard ball little mouse dropping of a B noir movie has just been released and its a beaut. This was anthony mann’s big breakthrough film and provided him with more ease and access to make movies for the rest of his career. It was also the first meet up of him and the great cinematographer John Alton who is known for his moody black and white cinematography in many films of the noir era and…

  • The Florida Project

    The Florida Project

    ★★★★

    The film gets its title from the original Disney name given for the massive Amusement park located in Orlando Florida when it was in the planning stages. Directed by the impressive Sean Baker who shot his last film “Tangerine” on the budget of well a tangerine and on several iPhones no less blasts out and on to the major filmmakers circle of honor with this touching yet sometimes obvious take on childhood with its simple joys and large perils.
    The…

  • Phantom Thread

    Phantom Thread

    ★★★★

    Phantom thread 2017

    I haven’t liked a Paul Thomas Anderson film in a long time, so I was pleased that I was pretty much pleased by this attractive smooth as silk take on the British fashion scene circa 1955. Of course there is much more to the film than just a brilliant and sometimes biting satire of fashion and all that goes with it. Much of my glee is because of Daniel Day Lewis’s brilliant performance, supposedly his last one.…

  • 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…