John Venable

John Venable

Favorite films are the four most recent 5-star ratings.

Favorite films

  • Red Desert
  • Lacombe, Lucien
  • Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce 1080 Bruxelles
  • Bicycle Thieves

Recent activity

All
  • Once Upon a Time in China

    ★★½

  • Zazie dans le Métro

    ★★★★

  • A Patch of Blue

    ★★★½

  • Red Desert

    ★★★★★

Recent reviews

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  • Once Upon a Time in China

    Once Upon a Time in China

    ★★½

    Lotsa cool, crunchy fight scenes — including one where Jet Li takes on all comers with an umbrella, as sharply choreographed as anything in Singin' in the Rain — but otherwise Hark is swimming in murky waters between anti-imperialism and strident nationalism. (Masahiro Shinoda's Assassination tells a story from an analogous point in Japanese history with far greater political nuance.) It also catches Asian cinema on the cresting wave of the global phenomenon it was to become in the 1990s.…

  • Zazie dans le Métro

    Zazie dans le Métro

    ★★★★

    Tex Avery meets Tati on a sugar high and Paris falls for the second time in twenty years. Mostly impenetrable — allusions I'm not enough of a Francophile to suss out are nestled within each other like a very French Russian doll — but the sheer anarchic energy of it is something to behold (or endure) and it goes places in the last fifteen minutes — cannibalism, a black shirt rally, a sauerkraut fight — you could've never predicted. Malle-icious.

    I love that Criterion Channel includes this in their 'Saturday Matinee' section of children's programming. Almost makes me wish I had children.

Popular reviews

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  • Detour

    Detour

    ★★★★½

    "Hey, glamorous, gimme change for a dime, will ya?"

    A 67-minute Poverty Row noir masterclass that's actually about poverty. The theme is how one bad decision can snowball when you're hard-up, the subtext is how stuff like this never happens to people with money, and the setting is the big empty you have to cross to get to the City of Angels. The companionship? Nightmarish. As fast, mean, elemental, and endlessly riffed on as they come.

  • Lourdes

    Lourdes

    ★★★★★

    At 17, I cheated death, walking away from a car wreck that should’ve, by all reasonable expectations, killed me. The car was a blue ’66 Dodge Dart that my friend Paul was refurbishing with his dad. They had just replaced the front bench seats but had yet to install the lap belts, though to this day I question if those were ever really in the plans. Noting their absence and Paul's propensity for driving like an asshole — and because…