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  • A Serious Man

    A Serious Man

    ★★★★½

    An era of mind-expansion and perspective alteration, its appearance signaled by a straight soundtrack of psychedelic rock, its onset paralleling an existential crisis for our buttoned-up, beaten-down hero. Opens with a sharp violation of the rules of hospitality, whether an outright murder or just a rash overreaction (in my limited understanding of dybbuks, they’re like ghosts who usually benefit from a little human assistance?) is unclear. Skipping a century or so into the future, the shtetl has been transferred to…

  • The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

    The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

    ★★★★

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  • Spring Breakers

    Spring Breakers

    ★★★★½

    Faux-trashy neon impressionism, documenting beachside revelry as a hysterical pagan rite. The gods here are the partiers themselves, engaging in self-objectification in search of worship, caught up in the thrall of continuous performance, urges that Korine gratifies with his lascivious perv-cam. These frenzied festivities occur as the soulless end result of some larcenous transference from black culture (a dice game / a Lil’ Wayne poster / a preacher’s cadence / a teardrop tattoo / a gun held sideways), with these…

  • The Wolf of Wall Street

    The Wolf of Wall Street

    ★★★★½

    Something of an auto-critique for a director who’s always been fixated on the glamorous allure of bad behavior. Here the entanglement between a moralizing viewpoint and a camera that can’t help but get swept up in the revelry creates an enormous amount of dissonance, and while some have seen this as a failing, I think it’s an intentional device set up by Winter and Scorcese. There’s certainly no tension or emotional investment produced by Belfort’s ‘arc’, which starts out in…