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  • Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me

    Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me

    ★★★★★

    With Showgirls, the most immolating American film of the 1990s, a violent rupture amid a decade of sleek cool and self-conscious irony. The ax through the TV. The woman who mimes in symbolism, the most direct trolljob Lynch ever pulled on the people who try to "solve" his work. Deer Meadow, the living ghost town that inverts Twin Peaks so much that even the diner stands out for how miserable perfunctory it is, a place that doesn't even sell food…

  • Married to the Mob

    Married to the Mob

    ★★★★

    A true ensemble film, in that I want a gallery of all of Pfeiffer's ensembles.

  • Eyes Do Not Want to Close at All Times, or, Perhaps One Day Rome Will Allow Herself to Choose in Her Turn

    Eyes Do Not Want to Close at All Times, or, Perhaps One Day Rome Will Allow Herself to Choose in Her Turn

    ★★★★★

    Love and politics as diametric opposites, with marriage as the cynical fulcrum on which they balance. As the cars and modern bustle of contemporary Rome filter past the recreation of those in togas, a vision of continuous political history is evoked, one that suggests a living past as much as a dead present in the weight of machinations and plots, to say nothing of its core irreconcilability of power and emotion. The dialogue moves at such an outrageously fast clip…

  • Inland Empire

    Inland Empire

    ★★★★★

    Lynch's celluloid films have always had a velvety, clear vision at odds with the haziness of their contents. Inland Empire flips that by using low-grade digital to create the smeary, incoherent, oneiric look that his movies always achieved tonally. Rewatching this film after the last few Malick movies, I see some parallels: for all the incomprehensible montage and jump cuts and half-articulated ideas and plots, the core of the movie is nothing but cliché. We have Hollywood as evil, actress/character…

  • White Dog

    White Dog

    ★★★★½

    Samuel Fuller tackled the subject of racism throughout his career, and something about his brutish, direct approach holds up as a surprisingly thoughtful means of addressing the complex, corrosive sin at the heart of America. White Dog is to the point even by Fuller's standards, introducing a lovable if ferociously protective stray dog, only to reveal a mind conditioned to attack black people on sight. Fuller triangulates the beast with the innocent, naïve young white woman (Kristy McNichol) who rescued…

  • Portrait of a Young Girl at the End of the '60s in Brussels

    Portrait of a Young Girl at the End of the '60s in Brussels

    ★★★★★

    The entire teen dance sequence near the end absolutely destroyed me. Most devastating party scene since the Tramp visibly deflated with his back to the camera in The Gold Rush.

  • Kong: Skull Island

    Kong: Skull Island

    One day this is gonna make a great John C. Reilly supercut. The rest of it is absolute clumsy, pointless drivel.

  • The Thin Red Line

    The Thin Red Line

    ★★★★½

    With the exception of some of Sam Fuller's work, perhaps the only moral war film ever made. Be they propaganda or anti-war screeds, too often war movies fit into Fuller's estimation of "recruitment pictures," and it's a remarkable coincidence that Malick's film appeared the same year that arguably the most blatant recruitment picture of the last 20 years, Saving Private Ryan, was released. Spielberg's film played at horror but cared too deeply for valorizing its characters' sacrifices, inadvertently ensuring that…

  • Song to Song

    Song to Song

    ★★★★★

    There are a small handful of filmmakers I would describe as Joycean. Terence Davies, despite never shooting in Ireland, captures the physical reality of Joyce's books: the creaking interiors, the spiritual weight of real and emotional death, the way that alcoholism and rage is both the manifestation and perpetuator of lower-class misery. David Lynch reflects the author's pathologized sexuality, the warped, half-glimpsed chimera of lust and repression that distorts perspectives into horrorshow abandon. (In more ways that one, Lost Highway

  • A New Leaf

    A New Leaf

    ★★★★★

    An absolutely toxic screwball that doesn't so much update the genre for a nihilistic and self-absorbed era as demonstrate that the genre had beaten society to that punch by a good 40 years. Matthau is a collection of faces housed in a shambling figure, a trickster god finally outsmarted after millennia of existence by his own profligacy. The montage of him morosely bidding farewell to the trappings of his life as he slowly drives around town in his collapsing Ferrari…

  • Ali

    Ali

    ★★★★

    A fitting follow-up to The Insider, in a way. Where other Mann films show their protagonists and antagonists trapped in the insular world of their professionalism, these two films find their heroes subjected to the active hostility of an entire system. In Jeffrey Wigand’s case, it is the industry he served for his whole career, but for Ali, it is establishment society itself. As he says in one scene set during his forced suspension from boxing over his draft dodge,…

  • Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

    Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

    ★★★★

    Neveldine/Taylor editor Doobie White arguably wrests control of the Resident Evil franchise away from its faithful shepherd Paul W.S. Anderson in its final installment, replacing the director's erstwhile preference for a handful of jump scares peppered among more elegant long takes and geometrical composition in favor of a more traditional, initially frustrating series of telegraphed jump scares and erratic assemblage. But the great strength of these films is Anderson's interest in the underlying logic and aesthetic of video games (certainly…