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  • The Irishman

    The Irishman

    ★★★★★

    Even by Scorsese’s standards a towering work: mournful and disgusted in equal measure. Crucially pivots secondary perspective from complicit wives to horrified children; who see what their fathers do to “protect” them and are so disturbed they lapse into near catatonia. Also makes the usual, self-destructive Scorsese protagonist the supporting character, making it all the easier to see the doom barreling toward a narcissist who refuses to compromise an inch.

    Full review: spectrumculture.com/2019/11/14/the-irishman-review/

  • Under the Silver Lake

    Under the Silver Lake

    ★★★½

    Seeing The Nightingale and Under the Silver Lake in close proximity during my year-end watching was an interesting experience. Both films make messy but fascinating points about their respective themes, in this case the way that the entire world is run at the whims of the ultra-rich, who have become so bored that they lace everything with secret messages while also building pharaoh tombs for themselves. But both films also never quite cohere their visual language with their intriguing ideas.…

  • The Nightingale

    The Nightingale

    ★★★½

    Thematically, the film's brutality is so precisely articulated that it overcomes many of the pitfalls that tend to plague films about white oppression. For one thing, we are never once asked to consider the tragedy of the slaver or genocider as they commit atrocities, so that the actions of British soldiers are never framed as the sad result of white conditioning and instead are shown in their full, unmitigated horror. It is tough to watch The Nightingale, with its multiple…

  • Kundun
  • Sleep Has Her House

    Sleep Has Her House

    ★★★★½

    More "slow cinema" should take a stab at horror. Like watching the Night on Bald Mountain segment of Fantasia on slo-mo, Sleep Has Her House presents the unmolested beauty of nature, then slowly twists and gnarls it using little more than almost imperceptible pull-outs and a slurred sense of time communicated by fading light. The film's elements are, well, elemental, using subtle movement of space and time to radically alter the tone. Consider how the opening shot of a waterfall…

  • The Slumber Party Massacre

    The Slumber Party Massacre

    ★★★★

    Of all the people getting drilled, the thing really getting skewered here is the slasher itself, which Jones delights in parodying with phallic imagery so broad you can see it from the International Space Station. Teens are so hilariously self-absorbed that even as strangers, acquaintances, if not friends and partners die, they can idly reach for pizza beneath the maimed corpse of a delivery boy. The killer's near-total silence being broken by his sweaty, trembling incel moan of "I love…

  • The Shining

    The Shining

    ★★★★★

    Stephen King's book is perhaps his finest work, picked clean of (most of) the diversions and cornball argot that can distract in even his finest work to analogize and confront the author's own substance abuse problems and the emotional toll that they took on himself and his loved ones. Not merely King's scariest novel, it's also his most tragic, a pained metaphor for relapse that movingly foregrounds that the reason they're called "recovering" addicts is that the demons never fully…

  • Taxi Driver

    Taxi Driver

    ★★★★★

    It's funny, I must have watched this film five times before I clocked how much of Travis's animus is driven by racism. What I first pegged as his general misanthropy is now so clearly rendered as his hatred of black people. Marcia Lucas's editing exquisitely reflects this aspect of his nature, from the darting glance toward and quickly away from the black cabbie who hangs with his friends to the frequent slo-mo of him staring at black people walking by.…

  • Local Hero
  • One Hundred and One Nights

    One Hundred and One Nights

    ★★★★½

    Absolutely sublime, A Midsummer Night's Dream meets the cover of Sgt. Pepper.

    spectrumculture.com/2019/10/10/oeuvre-varda-one-hundred-and-one-nights/

  • Monos

    Monos

    ★★

    Five stars for the location scout and Mica Levi, shame about the rest of this scattered, dull play at Lord of the Flies (complete with pig head in case you were too thick to follow along).

  • The Wolf of Wall Street

    The Wolf of Wall Street

    ★★★★★

    It only gets better and better, and somehow funnier. Scorsese takes the colossal office blocking of The Apartment and amps it up with cocaine energy, sprinting through Stratton Oakmont in flurries of movement that emphasize the frat energy of its dipshit executives. How a single person watched this movie and came away with the idea that it does anything less than relentlessly mock its characters for three hours is truly beyond me. If Howard Hawks's formula that "a great movie…