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John has written 13 reviews for films rated ★★★★½ .

  • Avengers: Endgame

    Avengers: Endgame

    ★★★★½

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

    I went into this movie pretty cynical. I thought there’s no way they manage to satisfy the expectations of 20+ films. I thought, well here’s the obligatory three hour slog.

    It did not slog. It was satisfying. Sure, like 99% of time travel movies, the timeline can be picked apart. (Did the Avengers fail in 13.99M other timelines?) But hey, also in comic book movies no one is ever really dead. Black Widow is getting a movie in the next…

  • Wayne's World

    Wayne's World

    ★★★★½

    Holds up great, other than younger generations don’t have any problem with ‘selling out.’

  • After the Storm

    After the Storm

    ★★★★½

    A character study of a tall guy who is down on his luck and the family who puts up with him. Kinda.

    Ryota is a sleazy private detective, a gambling addict and a bad father to his son. When his ex-wife starts seeing a yuppy guy, he’s  motivated — probably by jealousy — to get back into their lives. Sponging off his sister and mother, he tries to put up a front of success — but everyone sees right through…

  • Wormwood

    Wormwood

    ★★★★½

    One of the best documentaries of all time interspersed with unnecessary re-enactments. Ridiculously well photographed throughout.

  • Million Dollar Legs

    Million Dollar Legs

    ★★★★½

    “All the girls in this country are named Angela and all the men are named George.”
    “Why?”
    “Why not?”

    The country of Klopstockia is ruled by a strongman. Literally. W.C. Fields plays a president who maintains his power thanks to arm wrestling. His cabinet hatches a plot to depose him using a Mata Hari-esque agent. Meanwhile, his new potential son-in-law hatches a plot to balance the country’s budget with Olympic gold.

    Sound absurd? It is. Gloriously, gloriously absurd.

    This movie…

  • Everlasting Moments

    Everlasting Moments

    ★★★★½

    Another goddam Jan Troell masterpiece. He's 3/3 for me with these sensitive evocations of a world long faded. (The other two being the diptych The Emmigrants/The New Land.)

    Everlasting Moments is about Maria, a lower class woman in turn-of-the-century Sweden, her unreliable husband and four-to-seven kids. Almost by accident, she becomes the neighborhood photographer. Every photo she takes is like a little episode in the lives of her, her family and the local people. Memories trapped in amber - some…

  • Once Upon a Time in America

    Once Upon a Time in America

    ★★★★½

    A masterpiece with some problematic elements. No, I'm not talking about that ringing phone. (It's the sound of DeNiro's character's concscience, by the way.) I'm talking about the portrayal of rape culture. But I guess that is as true to a fable of America as the death of Prohibition.

    By the way, the "It's all an opium hallucination" theory is totally plausible.

  • The Rock

    The Rock

    ★★★★½

    A nearly goddam perfect film.

  • Yi Yi

    Yi Yi

    ★★★★½

    I'm going to have sit with this one for a while. Lyrical, mundane, epic.

  • McCabe & Mrs. Miller

    McCabe & Mrs. Miller

    ★★★★½

    A tale of enterprise and its perils. I love the dialogue, I love the setting, I love Leonard Cohen's songs as the otherworldly Chorus.

    Every scene is a transaction, and we will see many violations of social norms in favor of market norms. Meanwhile, the impotent Law looks on, licking its (mutton)chops.

    Let us raise a double whiskey glass, raw eggs down the hatch!

  • The Tarnished Angels

    The Tarnished Angels

    ★★★★½

    A crackling script and taut formalist directing animate a tale of lust and death in Depression Era New Orleans. Based on a William Faulkner novel called Pylon, this ace film chronicles a team of barnstormers (Robert Stack, Dorothy Malone, Jack Carson) and the alcoholic newsman (Rock Hudson) who aims to write them into myth. He even succeeds, thanks to one of the best screen monologues this side of Paddy Chayefsky. It's Douglas Sirk at his most noir - every subtext is dark with sin. Melodrama this good is a lost art form.

  • The Big Short

    The Big Short

    ★★★★½

    Really dynamic in-your-face style of editing which went well with improvised comedy. The ending was surprisingly potent.