• When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts

    When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts


    Unreservedly, comprehensively devastating and enraging.

    Growing up in Houston, I remember watching the devastation from afar on the news, hearing stories from a friend who had a friend who had a sister who knew what was going on. That fall, my class at our small school gained a student displaced from Katrina; she had a great sense of humor and was mostly good-natured (she liked to tease our relatively young male teacher who would wear, like, trendy Express Men's fitted…

  • Three Times

    Three Times


    Another Hou review, another description of a sublime opening scene. His camera slowly descends on a small pool hall as an arpeggiating triad and a bed of strings announce The Platters' "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes". We are introduced to and captured by the faces of Shu Qi and Chang Chen before we know anything about their relationship to each other, and then towards the pool table our gaze drifts. A stick supplies a ball with a trajectory, a destiny…

  • The Heroic Trio

    The Heroic Trio


    The Platonic Opposite of boring; shot like a perfume ad from the 90's, but at night, and I mean this as a total compliment; refreshing to have To's camera accentuate at nearly every moment how hot-as-heck these ladies are without even one leering moment or shot; combines this lovable, almost childlike slapdash logic to the movement of the action scenes (that feels very Suzuki/Shinoda) while at the same time being quite grisly and even disturbing (we wanna talk about that urination shot??? or no???); an all-time entry into the "fuck them kids" canon of cinema.

    Seriously, you will be the opposite of bored by this.

  • In Front of Your Face

    In Front of Your Face


    The war of entropy and grace, staged within a typically Hongian humdrum world. "I believe heaven is hiding in front of our faces," Sang-ok states, but in bodiless voiceover -- a mission statement amidst the corrosive mundanities and the mundane violences of a normal life, as firm a sovereign guiding light as it is also something that struggles to cohere with the earthbound moment-to-moment, day-to-day. Hong's trick as his film unfolds is foregrounding those mundanities, and elegantly, even surreptitiously carving…

  • The Right Stuff

    The Right Stuff


    First review in two months, and Houston, we have a hot take!!

    This is the totemic Space Movie? This overlong, meandering and unfocused ode to... pilots or America or something? Other than the extent to which I'm admittedly being a little performative right now, I'm trying not to be obtuse about what this movie seeks to be about... But mostly I see a sprawling wikipedia page jumping from event to event out of mere biographical obligation, or anecdote to anecdote…

  • Return of the Jedi

    Return of the Jedi


    Due to limited capacity, I've taken a bit of a break from posting, and thus writing about some insanely good movies I've seen recently (Hou Hsiao-Hsien's Three Times, Hong Sang-soo's In Front of Your Face, Kurosawa's Ran). But, in lieu of trying to do great films justice through writing, I'll just share a more cursory, odd development of my cinematic life: I think I might have just become one of those weirdos that thinks that Return of the Jedi might actually be the best Star Wars movie? I accept your judgment.

  • 2025: The World Enslaved by a Virus

    2025: The World Enslaved by a Virus


    There's a scene where a double agent, officially working for the oppressive Communist regime (because "communism is all over the place") but secretly on the side of the rebel Christians, sneaks into an office and deletes the database that the government is working off of to hunt down all the suspected Christians, and we clearly see that it's a Microsoft Word document, a bulleted list of only first names. Incredible. It looks like a third grader's list of who they…

  • Taste of Cherry

    Taste of Cherry


    (heavy spoilers)

    I’m going to inelegantly jump right into that third-act monologue which brings us the title of the film. I understand that many find Mr. Bagheri’s words deeply moving, and I don’t mean to undermine that. His encouragement of Badii to change his perspective and his story of life-saving mulberries has its own beauty to it. Accompanying this speech, though, is a minutes-long series of stationary wide shots, observing the car as it meanders along windy rural roads. What…

  • Drive



    An enchanting blend of deconstructing and romanticizing Noir-borne masculinity and protagonism -- a very similar type of fusion that I got from Once Upon a Time in the West -- perfectly coupled with and reinforced by how fantastical yet also gritty the aesthetics and tone feel. I wish I would have locked into the frequency of this wonderfully odd and volatile mixture earlier (didn't really understand what the movie was doing until like the very end), but that's at least…

  • The Talk of the Town

    The Talk of the Town


    A Drama, Thriller, Comedy mashup where the whole is less than the sum of its genres, and the end product just feels slightly limp; a running, legal discussion between characters about where the Law resides, either in the clouds as an objective ideal or on the ground as a subjective gut feeling, that seems fascinating in theory but never really enters full bloom; a repeatedly teased menage a troi that never goes full Design For Living, for the more Arthur,…

  • A Matter of Life and Death

    A Matter of Life and Death


    A peculiar cold open of a tour through the cosmos with a narration reminding us how vast, unknown, and treacherous these foreign bodies are -- gas clouds, stellar explosions -- only to finally arrive at our home planet, with the greeting, "reassuring, isn't it?". But then, refutingly, the music ominously swells as we are thrown into a scene of war. Earth, our seeming refuge from the impassive, gargantuan forces of nature, here house equally gargantuan and impassive forces, in war.…

  • Gone Girl

    Gone Girl


    Was gonna do a full review, but I let it sit too long, so just two notes:

    - this works really, really good as a Comedy. And I actually think it means to be funnier and less serious than people generally make it out to be. For sure, there's a lot of keen, prescient stuff about media and self-narration in a digital world. But I think the stuff on love/marriage plays far better as a silly, if grisly, satire of…