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  • The Glass Castle

    The Glass Castle

    ★★★

    Willing to be harrowing in its depictions of almost casual child abuse, yet there remains the prevailing notion that punches are being pulled everywhere. Most of the cast has at least one or two sterling moments, yet there's a certain post-factum revisionism hanging over the proceedings that turns each trauma into a teachable moment. Survivor's story as stealth brag?

    52/100

  • Nina

    Nina

    ★★

    A challenging sit due to its one-note downbeat tone. Divorce dramas usually cycle between a series of outbursts and reconciliations, and while those elements are in play here nothing stings or even does much to touch the heart. Moments of visual lyricism abound, yet similarly get lost in the film's somber haze.

    31/100

  • Qing Ting Zhi Yan

    Qing Ting Zhi Yan

    ★★★½

    A conceptual project assembled from found footage, much in the vein of Pálfi’s Final Cut: Ladies and Gentlemen, Xu Bing’s Dragonfly Eyes spins a loose, goofy narrative entirely out of voiceover work and Chinese surveillance footage. As a piece of database cinema, it may lack the haunted drive of Rodrigues’ The Last Time I Saw Macao or the moment-to-moment intrigue of Sussman’s whiteonwhite:algorithmicnoir yet it presents a monumentally unflattering and unshakable portrait of China as a hostile, Foucauldian asylum with…

  • Bedlam

    Bedlam

    ★★★★

    Only tangentially a horror film, this layered feminist drama sees a woman (Anna Lee, excellent) shuttered away in the titular asylum due to her outspokenness. There, she almost meets her match in the form of the hospital’s apothecary (Karloff), who puts her philosophical stances on charity and the common decency of man to a series of horrifying tests. It’s not quite the ravishing exercise in style that the Lewton-directed efforts in this period are, but as a dramatization of an…

  • Hello Horse!

    Hello Horse!

    ★★½

    A playful observation of spaces in the mode of Kiarostami’s 24 Frames… Pakalnina transforms the countryside into a series of tableaux, which can be seen changing over time via the use of match cuts. Pleasant enough, but not particularly rigorous or even relaxing, given the subject matter.

    43/100

  • Mrs. Fang

    Mrs. Fang

    ★★½

    Wang Bing’s unflinching Mrs. Fang chronicles the last days of an Alzheimers-stricken farmer, sitting next to her deathbed as she breathes her final breaths. If you’re familiar with Wang’s filmmaking, this results in almost precisely the approach that you’d expect from that description, for better or worse. Any film is a Rorschach test, of course, but a response to this one in particular will almost entirely depend upon a viewer’s subjective experiences. Indeed, even the very concept of the project,…

  • Annabelle: Creation

    Annabelle: Creation

    ★★

    I am assuming these aren’t still based on true stories?

    38/100

  • Hexed

    Hexed

    ★★½

    Gleefully immoral and chaotic, in the manner of the Airplane! movies, which is helpful for satire… Still, not very funny when it’s not entirely hilarious.

    41/100

  • The Fort of the Crazy

    The Fort of the Crazy

    ★★½

    Le Fort Des Fous might be rough going for those not prepared for its midfilm, headlong dive into didacticism. Things begin unassumingly with an allegorical abstraction of colonialism’s ridiculous formalism, sourced in actual military records. Playing almost like a male version of last year’s Kékszakállú, with a jazz score replacing the opera from that film, this extended sequence follows a group of soldiers as they engage in military drills and briefings. The key figure in this sequence is a photographer,…

  • The Transfiguration

    The Transfiguration

    ★★★

    While it manages to establish and sustain a world-weary tone through its ominous score and deliberate pacing, Michael O’Shea’s urban vampire thriller is largely content to echo other films in the genre. Featuring a protagonist who offers critiques on similar films like Martin and Let the Right One In, it sets itself up for comparisons that it can’t quite withstand. Centering largely on two kids who seem sweet but entirely mismatched to their situations, the film never establishes any real…

  • Winter Brothers

    Winter Brothers

    ★★★

    In some ways this idiosyncratic debut feature feels like a group of cobbled together short films, with many scenes acting as self-contained gags. Overall, though, it marks the emergence of an inventive talent, presenting an aloof comic vision that’s alternatively channeling Yorgos Lanthimos and Napoleon Dynamite. Set at an isolated limestone mine, the film largely tracks the hijinks of Emil, an oddball stuck in a job that gives him no creative outlet. All work and no play results in Emil…

  • Phantasiesatze

    Phantasiesatze

    ★★★

    This recycling of (found?) home movie footage is so inherently haunting in its depiction of emptied out spaces that I'm not sure that its tacked on sci-fi pretensions added much at all.

    51/100