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John has written 84 reviews for films rated ★★★½ .

  • The Kid Brother

    The Kid Brother

    ★★★½

    Lots of inventive gags. A solid Harold Lloyd joint.

    The restoration by Criterion / UCLA Archives was beautiful and I really liked the boisterous score they put on it.

  • Robin Hood

    Robin Hood

    ★★★½

    This film has been unjustly maligned. It is a relentlessly modern spin on the RH legend of income inequality, right down to the costumes which, spoiler alert, are not aiming for historical accuracy. You could intercut some shots into Straight Out of Compton or the recent Star Wars trilogy without suspicion. Think A Knight’s Tale but deadpan or Dark Knight but camp. I had great fun watching it.

    Taron Egerton is our Iraq War/Crusade veteran Robin ‘Rob’ ‘The Hood’ Loxley…

  • Amistad

    Amistad

    ★★★½

    Glad I finally caught up with this Spielberg gem, starring Matthew McConaughey as the pre-Abraham Lincoln lawyer and Djimon Hounsou as Cinque, the guy who this movie intended to make more famous. A good start would have been subtitling his words from the get go instead of othering him compared to the Portuguese traders, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

    The Franzoni script is great, giving many excellent scene turns & acting arias. I think the sappy John Williams score moments…

  • A Star Is Born

    A Star Is Born

    ★★★½

    A myth Hollywood can’t get enough of. This was a good telling, strong in script and acting and resonances with real life personae. The improvs were sometimes too apparent, in dialogue and camerawork. But if that’s the trade off to reach the deep end, performances that breathe with such life, I’m okay with it.

  • Vice

    Vice

    ★★★½

    I’m genuinely a bit torn on this movie, because I felt like it often lacked dramatic stakes and a clear point of view. On the other hand, this new vein of writer/director Adam McKay of semi-educational, hemi-polemical current event comic dramas is great and often surfaces moments of sheer brilliance — like the scene intercutting a skillful fly fishing session with Cheney luring GW Bush into biting on his preferred version of the vice presidency. (Hat tip to editor Hank…

  • Punch-Drunk Love

    Punch-Drunk Love

    ★★★½

    I have to re-evaluate this film. It is a deeply weird movie. I realized upon this viewing that the sound design is doing some serious heavy lifting for Sandler’s performance. (I do still regard it as among his best.) The Jon Brion score remains a masterpiece.

    What struck me as especially bizarre this time is Emily Watson’s cipher of a love interest. She hard-pursues a guy who is festooned in metaphorical red flags. He’s the worst piece of dating material…

  • Body Double

    Body Double

    ★★★½

    Rushes the second half of the film but still have to love the unadulterated De Palma-ness throughout. Who would think to mash up Vertigo with Rear Window with pornography?

  • One, Two, Three

    One, Two, Three

    ★★★½

    A sharply-written farce set in postwar Berlin. I suppose it is so hard to see because Jimmy Cagney plays a Coca-Cola executive. Those rights issues.

  • It's Always Fair Weather

    It's Always Fair Weather

    ★★★½

    Bitter notes and Shakespeare quotes. Stick with the movie and there some plum rewards, not least Cyd Charisse as a green genius.

  • Ordet

    Ordet

    ★★★½

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    A “masterpiece” eh? Not my style of opus, But dang that ending did leave me an emotional wreck.

    First, the bad. With all the perils of childbirth and theological monologuing, it’s like Ingmar Bergman pastiche — in slow motion. The actors all speak deliberately, looking away from each other, possibly at cue cards. I wasn’t wowed by the lauded high-contrast cinematography, either. Stagey.

    Madness and faith sit close together in the world of this filmed play. You can probably guess…

  • Godzilla

    Godzilla

    ★★★½

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    The one that first breathed fire into the kaiju genre!

    On one hand, the effects and acting style haven’t dated well. On the other hand, the film remains watchable because it has a lot on its mind. Not just a Japan still processing the trauma of firebombing and two atomic detonations. But also its own culpability. Godzilla is sypathetic precisely because he (it?) represents a destructive part of the Japanese soul. Dr. Serizawa and his final decision regarding the Oxygen…

  • The Handmaiden

    The Handmaiden

    ★★★½

    Clever plot, smutty content that pretends to be anti-smut. What’s not to like?

    While watching, I couldn’t help thinking of the women who had been manipulated and debased by men in Hollywood. They join forces and turn the tables. What a strange fantasy!