John_Lehtonen has written 35 reviews for films during 2021.

  • The Descent

    The Descent

    An aesthetically and tonally pure horror film, & more psychologically ambiguous than I think it's given credit for — Juno is villainized to an extent but not entirely, and Sarah is also shaded, with an implied death drive, to say nothing of her hallucinations. The criticized dropping or underdevelopment of these threads works in its favor, the psychology is lost in all that darkness, binds are loosened and masks dropped, the move into the primal deeply violent on a internal level…

  • Malignant

    Malignant

    "Giallo" for people who watch those films strictly with English dub tracks. I'm not totally opposed to what Wan is doing here, he isn't contemptuous of his audience, unlike the Elevated Horror Auteurs, to name our popular villains. In a way his problem is the opposite of theirs: he understands the surface of horror and the value of instability (whereas they try to form an intellectual or emotional base but drain horror's form of its vitality, through ponderous, always too…

  • Cry Macho

    Cry Macho

    "This is a 20th century time machine... Out there, that's the future, and back there, well that's the past. If life's moving too slow, and you wanna project yourself into the future, just step on the gas right here. See? And if you wanna slow 'er down, well hell, you just step on the brake here, and you slow 'er down. This is the present, Philip. Enjoy it while it lasts." -- Butch, A Perfect World

    Simple sentiments expressed simply:…

  • Honkytonk Man

    Honkytonk Man

    For me, this is too episodic to really land all its punches, although there’s an interesting diurnal/nocturnal divide, vivid through Surtees’ chiaroscuro, that streaks death and pain through otherwise sunny pastoral vistas. Here is where it shares a relationship with Bronco Billy, namely in contemplating the whys of a popular art, but it’s less odious than the 1980 film, principally because it’s not trying to validate a myth but instead finding the roots of said culture in shared hardship and…

  • Bronco Billy

    Bronco Billy

    An interesting failure, artistically clear-headed but thematically risible in view of the films Eastwood would go on to make in the ensuing decades, initially moving-with, and then against, the grain of one of his most valuable themes, that being the interrogation of myth.

    The screwball romance between Eastwood and Locke is conspicuously one-sided, Locke's character existing more to confirm the former's chauvinism than to genuinely integrate femininity into his persona or challenge his perspective — you might argue that class…

  • Séance

    Séance

    One of Kurosawa's most rigorous formal objects, to the point of suffocation, which seems the intention. A dynamic between nested quadrilaterals and pulsing off-screen or non-diegetic sound --> control and anxiety. Sound as another reality, atemporal, treacherous to sight, a gate for invisible forces. His scariest picture in its terrible loneliness: space closes on the subject, removes them from reality, confronts them directly with their damnation.

  • Point Break

    Point Break

    The most erotic and Romantic American action film, and consequently the greatest. Some have tried to extract a thesis in the ensuing years (pick your topic: toxic masculinity, nihilism, etc), which misses Bigelow’s (then) focus, that being the creation of a sensual, totally visceral genre cinema. Certainly, she offers her fair share of observations on masculinity, on law, on the death drive, these constituting the human drama, the violent conflict which propels the plot. But the affective thread is erotic…

  • Brawl in Cell Block 99

    Brawl in Cell Block 99

    One of the essential genre films of its decade, and quite certainly one of the last real genre films that'll ever come out of America.

    Violence that pummels and horrifies because it's attached to a deliberately sketched rage, images of abjection so affective because they're derived so patiently and naturally from what would seem the real world — slavery to employment and material eventually translated into gladiatorial violence. Immiseration into dehumanization. The Fridge is our realist depiction of systemic dehumanization…

  • License to Live

    License to Live

    It’s not hard to see how this film fits into Kurosawa’s overarching concerns, particularly his persistent emphasis on Tokyo’s cycles of destruction/reconstruction, and the film’s explicit model, The Ballad of Cable Hogue, is a helpful entry point to its expression of said concerns. Of particular interest in Kurosawa’s revisions of the older film is the shifting of the protagonist’s oddball magnetism from their outsiderness (Cable Hogue) to their arrested development and out-of-timeness (Yutaka). Both are living anachronisms, creating improbable and…

  • Eyes of the Spider

    Eyes of the Spider

    "Charisma came out in ’99, Pulse was 2000, and I think the vague idea I had at the time was that we were really on the cusp of a new century. The idea was to abandon, by destroying everything from the 20th century in order to head into a good, new future. It wasn’t that the apocalyptic vision was negative or despairing, it was positive, a way to get rid of old baggage."

    -Kurosawa, in conversation with Reverse Shot

    "On…

  • The Revenge: A Scar That Never Disappears

    The Revenge: A Scar That Never Disappears

    Like its predecessor, more dark ambient play with genre frameworks, but a move away from the classical arc there. We're still in familiar territory — avenger gone dark, mirroring between Law and Criminality — but de-centered from driving narrative purpose. One of Kurosawa's most outwardly despairing, essentially Eyes of the Spider without that film's quietly radical tonal experiments or transvaluing humor, it's a film on entropy, for institutions and individuals alike, told in a series of rhymes between two declining…

  • Suit Yourself or Shoot Yourself: The Hero

    Suit Yourself or Shoot Yourself: The Hero

    “My encounter with Sho Aikawa was very significant. At the time he was a brand unto himself: it wasn’t about the story or the character, it was about him. He was a genre in himself; ‘Sho Aikawa-starring V-cinema’ was already a genre. That gave me an incredible freedom, because that was the fundamental element of the fiction I was creating. Aikawa himself turned out to be incredibly flexible and multifaceted. We would shoot scenes without written dialogue and have him…