• Buck and the Preacher

    Buck and the Preacher

    ★★½

    I appreciate this more for its concept than execution. We do need Westerns that showcase the Black experience, particularly during Reconstruction/Redemption, but Buck and the Preacher is kind of a misfire. It’s good at the plot stakes (getting the Black settlers to new lands out West and away from the night riders who want to basically re-enslave them), but the characters are kind of limp. There’s just not much of an arc for either of the leads. Preacher gains a…

  • Real Life

    Real Life

    ★★★★½

    So this is brilliant. It’s wild that Brooks perfectly satirized reality TV before reality TV was even really a thing, but it’s delightfully incisive that the entertainment incentives of a project that’s being filmed for mass consumption will override and kind of pretensions of scientific value. It’s also a great commentary on the documentary form and the observer effect where there’s really no way to render yourself invisible because the storyteller is always making choices. It’s just that here, for…

  • The Avengers

    The Avengers

    ★★★★½

    Still fun, and it’s still going to bum me out that Whedon turned out to be a trash person.

  • The Hitch-Hiker

    The Hitch-Hiker

    ★★★½

    This is a neat little thriller. I wish it had a little more on the front and back end so you could see how the journey changed Roy and Gilbert, but on the whole I really like how it pushes back against notions of machismo. In an era where it was common for men in films to just grab a bad guy’s gun out of his hand and then sock him, Lupino plays the reality of the situation, which really makes the film get under your skin in its brief runtime.

  • Prey

    Prey

    ★★★★

    This fully owned. Gorgeous cinematography, incredible sound design, and it strikes the right balance between the cat-and-mouse game between hero and Predator and just having the Predator absolutely owning folks in brutal ways. I’m surprised it took 35 years and three wildly different attempts (five if you count AVP movies), but Prey is easily the best one since the original and in some ways even surpasses it.

  • Predator

    Predator

    ★★★★

    It's fun. It also gets better on repeat viewings thanks to how lean and straightforward it is, not to mention how far it surpasses sequels like Predator 2, The Predator, and the AVP movies (I have a soft spot for Predators and haven't seen Prey yet).

    It's also very funny that the cast features two future governors as well as two great directors in their own right.

  • Tetsuo: The Iron Man

    Tetsuo: The Iron Man

    ★★½

    “I shall watch this surreal body horror before I go to bed.”

    - Me, the good-idea-haver

    I was with it for the first two thirds as I felt the surreal, non-narrative aspects gave way to a gripping, visceral horror about losing our humanity to a mechanized age. But in the final third, it feels like your standard-issue battle crap that plays more like action than horror.

  • Hedwig and the Angry Inch

    Hedwig and the Angry Inch

    ★★★★½

    Loved this. Watching it, I was frequently reminded of the line from Grand Illusion, “Borders are an invention of men.” The Berlin Wall was an artificial yet incredibly real boundary, yet why do lean so heavily upon gender? What would be lost if we questioned it, and let it go? Hedwig feels incredibly poignant today, and yet its punk-rock edge keeps the film funny, electric, and vibrant.

  • Tangerine

    Tangerine

    ★★★★

    So glad I finally watched this. I had heard nothing but good things since it came out in 2015, but then I didn’t watch it for 7 years despite loving The Florida Project and liking Red Rocket, so that’s on me.

    What I love about this movie is how alive it is and how much it respects its characters to let them be messy rather than pristine. Watching Tangerine, I was reminded of another 2015 movie, Tom Hooper’s The Danish…

  • Ocean's Eleven

    Ocean's Eleven

    ★★★★★

    I know some writers bristle at this movie because it’s largely conflict-free, but I think it’s basically a magic trick. Does that make it great drama? No! Does it make it entertaining as hell? You bet!

  • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

    Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

    ★★★★★

    Prepping for the upcoming theatrical re-release, so I decided to watch the commentary track on the theatrical version. It’s from 2009 and gets a little salty (attention spans are too short! I didn’t agree with resurrecting Spock!), but there are some nice insights here and there. But I love this movie and I’m excited to see it in the big screen.

  • The Set-Up

    The Set-Up

    ★★★★★

    Total masterpiece. I’m pretty sure I reviewed the DVD of this back in the early 2000s, but that review, as well as most of my memories of the film, have been lost to time. So I decided to revisit this 72-minute gem (that unfolds in real time!), and I’m so glad I did. The way Wise and Krasner shot this thing is gorgeous, and I love how bleak it is. It’s the story of a man who has been abandoned by everyone, and yet even knowing the personal cost, continues to fight anyway because he has to prove it to himself. Haunting and beautiful.