• A Bay of Blood

    A Bay of Blood

    ★★★½

    An exquisite ten minute intro without dialogue, and then it does Friday the 13th but better in 20 minutes. Beautiful. The rest is okay.

    (Man, animals in movies... the way they can’t act! Sea creatures and bugs! The way they are actually just living, even while manipulated, with no regards for the plans of the camera. It always shocks my brain, just the amount of contingency animals bring. Something about that nail in the cockroach -- and how it is actually struggling to live -- feels so grossly inappropriate to photograph. And that it's mirroring the bed murder... Not endorsed, but I see you Bava you freak.)

  • Blood and Black Lace

    Blood and Black Lace

    ★★★½

    There is negative characterization in this movie, but it’s so visually splendid and inventive it doesn’t really matter. The antique store sequence is an all-timer. In general, this is amazing visual storytelling on a scene-by-scene level. Visually way ahead of its time, setting the standard for so much wonderful stuff yet to come.

    Yet another movie that makes me feel like I’ve given some 70s flicks way too much credit...

  • The Visit

    The Visit

    ★★★

    Great middle-school movie night material! The strangeness of out-of-town grandparents is definitely an under examined topic. This is basically an extrapolation from that “what the fuck?” that crosses your ten year old brain when you see that contraption of raised plastic seat and bars on the toilet at you grandma’s house. Like, of course, they actually are just aging and everything is fine. But there’s a lot your imagination can do with that “what the fuck” in a society that…

  • Deep Red

    Deep Red

    ★★★★

    Me [before, soon to be murdered]: I feel a presence. A twisted mind. Sending me thoughts. Perverted murderous thoughts. They linger about the room like cobwebs. Death. Blood. I’m scared. I’m scared… No one must know.

    Argento [after, explaining over my body]: Like a thorn piercing my brain, I heard all those twisted thoughts, cruel and yet childish at the same time. Before in front of the audience I couldn’t express all the sensations that flooded my mind… But now……

  • The Cat o' Nine Tails

    The Cat o' Nine Tails

    ★★★½

    Argento has such a feel for the specificity of things. No ideas but in things! The heft of a neck, the bend in metal, dry hair, needle points, a wall's weight, the way milk squirts or fabric rubs on skin. How a nose juts and a face hangs. To lovingly fry eggs then hold them under a faucet! Gravity on flesh. Softness and hardness. So fun, so delicious, so skillfully exploited. Begging to be consumed. Tickling some sordid, tasteful, modern, perverted appetite...

    On Gerard Manley…

  • Hester Street

    Hester Street

    ★★★★★

    Wow wow wow. Was NOT expecting this movie (that I hadn't heard of until a week ago) to be this good. A golden age frame brimming with love. Scuffed up just enough with that 70s-independent-NYC attitude, and given just enough of a self-conscious genre-element to carve vast and unique depths beneath the characters. It's genius, knowing, grounded, and so rich with nuance. It feels impossible that this was made in the 70s -- like, paradoxically, it should've been made this decade or in…

  • The Bird with the Crystal Plumage

    The Bird with the Crystal Plumage

    ★★★★½

    There’s a goofy colorful cartoonishness about it, but with pitch black shapes floating through. It makes something “naive but macabre.” “A bit Perverted.” “It gives me shivers.” Like a premonition of death on a beautiful Italian day. It's hilarious! The bodies and colors are taking up space like an art installation in my brain. I can’t get them out!

    “Don’t you like cats?”

  • When a Stranger Calls

    When a Stranger Calls

    Terrible. I don’t think us millennials have been given enough space to grapple with surviving the nadir of culture. The clothes in this make me genuinely depressed.

    Plus half a star for her cell phone bill.

  • Black Christmas

    Black Christmas

    ★★★½

    Has the ecstatic violence of Texas Chainsaw, the creeping-ness of Halloween, and the teen vibes and proto-jump scare tricks of every slasher since. It’s a prototype for so much we all love.

    But also works on its own as much more than just a genre curiosity. It’s beautifully shot with those deep dark rich Christmas colors. It bitingly uses patriarchy as its main horror device (any man could be the murderer!). And it’s got some great performances and Canadian faces floating around. I don't think it transcends in any element, but it's rock solid scary stuff. Good beginning to spooktober.

  • L.A. Story

    L.A. Story

    ★★★★½

    “HOW DADDY IS DOING”

    Imagine: a satire about LA that’s making fun of what you imagine people imagine making fun of while imagining LA. Of course, it’s not LA. But it is LA. Does that make sense?????? 

    Or, how about this: that LA is so frequently imagined that an imagined LA leaves the city so over-determined that this becomes the actual basis for reality at a certain level of privilege. Does that make sense???

    Or, how about this: that this…

  • Carlito's Way

    Carlito's Way

    ★★★½

    It’s like first they recognized what a perfect "car rental guy" Al Pacino would be and then reverse engineered a gangster backstory from that. This movie, low key, has a wonderfully weird tone. It's never too upset about what's happening. There's a humor and a sadness in that.

    "Car rental guys don’t get killed that much "

  • Nowhere

    Nowhere

    ★★★★

    "Even comic books are better at telling stories," Stephen Holden randomly concludes in a confused 1997 NYT review. There's nothing better for my self-esteem than reading critics review Gregg Araki.

    Omg James Duvall.

    Gregg Araki