• Punch-Drunk Love

    Punch-Drunk Love

    ★★★★½

    A tiny wheezing discarded piano, a palette of pudding cups, a septet of sadistic sisters, a flourescent maze of hallways, a baggy royal blue suit, a payphone in a parade, a rogue forklift filled with novelty plungers, an enraged red-faced mattress man, a predatory phone sex scam, a dismantled restroom, a million frequent flyer miles, a beautiful blur of colorful blobs, a perfect Olive Oyl earworm, a Hawaii that really looks like Hawaii, a stream of silhouettes racing through a backlit archway until only two bodies remain, planted in space, unstuck from time, and magnetically super-charged until they unite into a singular shape.

  • Cookie's Fortune

    Cookie's Fortune

    ★★★½

    Man I could really go to town on a platter of catfish enchiladas.

  • For a Few Dollars More

    For a Few Dollars More

    ★★★★

    Nearly every interior shot is festooned with hanging clusters of dried chili peppers and braided ropes of garlic. At this point in the trilogy, Sergio was stuffing every millimeter of the frame with tantalizing, tasty delights. How many iconic moments, dusty standoffs,  and sweaty closeups can one film contain? Clint, Van Cleef, and Volante are all magnificent and indelible. And while I really enjoyed the soundtrack in Fistful, the addition of Morricone to the crew really ups the sonic accompaniment to legendary…

  • The Seven Year Itch

    The Seven Year Itch

    ★★

    The potency and meaning of the word cringe has become eroded by overuse and misapplication, but I submit that every scene featuring Tom Ewell in The Seven Year Itch is a skin-crawling, soul-sucking demonstration of what that word can truly mean when it’s expressed in its purest, most elemental form. Every moment we spend with that wheedling weasel and his delusional fantasies of philandering prowess or imagined hen-pecked victimhood is pain on pain on pain.

    However, I have reserved a heart…

  • Assault on Precinct 13

    Assault on Precinct 13

    ★★★★

    Exquisite proof that all you really need to make a great exploitation thriller is an ingenious story and a killer soundtrack. Well, that, plus John Carpenter in his proto-prime maneuvering all these grimy, delightful elements around with the precision of a Swiss fucking watch. I am, and will remain, deeply shook by the ice cream truck scene. Also; was there really a time when there were so few cars in Los Angeles?

  • A Fistful of Dollars

    A Fistful of Dollars

    ★★★½

    This is Leone on simmer and it still threatens to boil over — few people capture cruelty and tension on camera quite like him, even while he’s got his western training wheels on. Also loved seeing young Clint looking like a handsome slab of leather and squinting his way into the whole world’s heart.

    Yojimbo’s still better because it’s god damned Yojimbo, but I’m excited to rewatch the next two man-with-no-name joints and see how they stack up against my favorite guy, the itchy samurai.

  • A Better Tomorrow

    A Better Tomorrow

    ★★★

    Yes there are the requisite barrels of blood, sprays of bullets, elaborate stylized set-pieces, grating emotional histrionics, and befuddling narrative twists that one expects from a John Woo joint, but what I did not expect — especially from such a hyperviolent gangster melodrama — was for there to be quite so much tickling.

  • Compañeros

    Compañeros

    ★★★

    118 minutes of dust clouds and doublecrosses is about 28 too many, no matter how lively or expertly constructed, but holy shit Franco Nero! Time for some more movies starring that dude. Extra credit for yet another perfect, insane, earworm theme song from Morricone. What a wizard. Who even comes close?

  • Drive

    Drive

    ★★★

    I had no idea that Mark Decascos — who plays a naive, wide-eyed, cybernetic superhuman crossed with a ruthless tasmanian devil assassin in Drive — had action chops that are every bit as astounding and acrobatic as the best Hong Kong stars from this era. I kind of can’t believe it. Kadeem Hardison and Brittany Murphy are pretty fun too, as is the running gag about a TV show called Walter The Einstein Frog that I still have yet to…

  • Bowfinger

    Bowfinger

    ★★★½

    I have enjoyed many of the films directed by Fozzie Bear over the years, but with condolences to Little Shop of Horrors, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and The Indian in the Cupboard, this is his crowning achievement.

  • The Asphalt Jungle

    The Asphalt Jungle

    ★★★★

    There are oh so many ways to lose it all, no matter how carefully you plot and scheme. That’s the John Huston guarantee.

  • The Misfits

    The Misfits

    ★★★★

    Damn ‘em all.
    They changed it.
    Changed it all around.
    Smeared it all over with blood.

    Whatever comfort or freedom we carve out for ourselves in this big brutish world has a price tag that usually goes unseen, unexplored, and unexamined. Probably best not to know or think about all the ways the blood is smeared all over us. Unless you’re a movie called The Misfits.