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  • At Long Last Love

    At Long Last Love

    ★★★★½

    "It’s one thing to attempt to mimic the greats, but it’s another thing to signal to your audience you know you are a pale imitation. Kahn and Reynolds don’t shy from their off-key voices—they embrace them with drunken abandonment. They move their bodies with taps in their steps and shout for the rafters, and there’s a genuine charm to their attempts to succeed. Shepard’s voice is perhaps the most classical, but she’s also the most silly! A constant smile on…

  • Sholay

    Sholay

    ★★★★

    Discussed with Mumbai critic Laya Maheshwari on the latest podcastand ignore the star rating: this is the greatest thing in existence and it is pure and good and perfect. Not to go Stefon but this movie has everything: you've got the action, you've got the romance, you've got the song and dance, you've got the colors, you've got the ridiculous plot twists and emotional climax and the biggest action sequences. Watch it!

  • Hail the Conquering Hero

    Hail the Conquering Hero

    ★★★★

    My conversation with Jake Mulligan on the podcast ends with us discussing how Preston Sturges's visual style contrasts with Leni Riefenstahl's visual style, and why democracy may always triumph over fascism. So that is that.

  • Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

    Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

    ★★★½

    "The Final Chapter finds Alice and her band of misfits returning to The Hive, a digital labyrinth of corridors, angular walls, and booby traps that have lost their metallic luster since the space was first introduced. Like Fritz Lang's technological nightmares, the setting is spun as a foil to the characters, whose acrobatic bodies fight back against the inhumanly rigid world. And by treating CGI as CGI (there's no guise about anything being real in these movies), Anderson makes Jovovich…

  • To Be or Not to Be

    To Be or Not to Be

    ★★★★★

    Playing around a few different cities in honor of our president-elect's [ed. now president ::shoots self::] tendencies toward a certain ideology—my capsule for The Village Voice:

    Ernst Lubitsch's Hollywood films often embed a salacious lowbrow flavor within their aristocratic atmospheres. But with this 1942 magnum opus, the German émigré conjures an anti-war crusade that opens with Hitler being compared to a ham before turning the Warsaw occupation into a masquerade of disguises and innuendo. Jack Benny leads a ragtag group…

  • Split

    Split

    ★★★½

    "Essentially playing out as a chamber drama, Shaymalan's camera weaves in and out of the frame to constantly alert our senses to the finer details of the confined spaces. Casey's two-room prison is imbued with an ominous minimalism, and Carol art director Jesse Rosenthal and It Follows cinematographer Mike Gioulakis keep things on edge, particularly in an extended take as a character barrels down a pipe-laden basement. Most terrifying of all are the Jonathan Demme-style frontal close-ups, which provide an…

  • Dog Factory

    Dog Factory

    A good film to highlight from MoMA's return of the Cruel & Unusual Comedy series, which I wrote about in the Village Voice:

    A revival of the program first shown at MoMA in May 2009, "Cruel and Unusual Comedy" features shorts curated by Ben Model and Steve Massa from the legendary silent-film collection Eileen Bowser gathered during her tenure at the museum in the Seventies and Eighties. The duo's emphasis is on the bizarre and the insane, each selection a representation…

  • Creepy

    Creepy

    ★★★★

    Discussed in the Top 10 podcast, and in many ways, my favorite directed film of the year on a shot-by-shot basis. Everything this guy does speaks to what I think great cinema can and should accomplish within an artistic mode of practice. It seems so strange to me that both him and Miike could emerge from the same film movment, given how omnipresent the former brings a formal rigor to each script while Miike seems to reinvent his aesthetics all…

  • Cameraperson

    Cameraperson

    ★★★★½

    Because of where our conversation ultimately took us with regards to my choices, I didn't spend as much time as I wanted to singing the praises of this beautiful piece of work on our Top 10 podcast.

    One thing I would say, is that if I had to choose a recent film to show to visitors from outer space to teach us about humanity, I think I would send this. That might be an odd choice given how much of…

  • Hell or High Water

    Hell or High Water

    ★★★½

    Discussed on the Top 10 podcast here. Chris Pine beating that punk half to death might be my favorite moment in movies this year.

  • Allied

    Allied

    ★★★★

    Discussed on the Top 10 podcast here. Is there anyone else doing "prestige adult" filmmaking like Zemeckis does? His last three films hit a middlebrow sweet spot in which he just shoots dialgoue scenes (as well as his most creative inventions) with more psychological nuance than anyone else.

  • 20th Century Women

    20th Century Women

    ★★★½

    "Bening has been considered one of the greatest actresses of her generation, but the continual Oscar talk around each performance has, in a way, stunted us from actually discussing the nuances of her technique. With a warm smile and a casual pause at every line, Bening distills her role as a liberal-but-not-quite-leftist mother with warm grace. Her quiet face with seemingly inexpressive eyes remains calm and collected, but her smoking habit and the nervous tics of how she holds her…