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  • The Whole Shootin' Match

    The Whole Shootin' Match

    ★★★★

    Like maybe only an amateur can, Eagle Pennell created a lived-in, fully-realized world familiar from real life but foreign to movies, and he painted this canvas in slight variation for two and one-half inimitable films, using the same two actors and practically the same locations. If you were to take Budweiser, rodeos, and baseball caps—the red state signifiers that made American Sniper so much money—and invert them into Lone Star, bar brawls, and hats advertising Big Ag, you might be…

  • Mauvais Sang

    Mauvais Sang

    ★★★★★

    All the stars.

    The kind of movie that, even on a third viewing, makes you ashamed of the last 100 movies you watched, the last 100 days you lived (or rather, didn't), your humdrum existence a pathetic placeholder for what should be called living. A film where not being loved is a kind of dying, where loving without loving is a way of killing.

    Transcend life in art and art in life. Jean Cocteau is dead, forever and never. Believe…

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  • Where Is The Friend's House?

    Where Is The Friend's House?

    ★★★★½

    I used to agree with whoever called this “an entire movie of agony for one moment of beauty“; I used to think it was a film about what fools adults are. But the music told me what my mind couldn't, that this is Kiarostami's Pather Panchali, his song of the little road, and the road's a switchback carved into a mountain but just as graceful. The picture is of what it means to be a child when the sun goes down, and to know what's right.

  • Johnny Mnemonic

    Johnny Mnemonic

    ★★

    For a story pitched from the jump as crude v. technical, director Robert Longo's execution comes down hard on the side of crudeness, and it doesn't feel intentional. Flat, eye-level camera placements suck all the tension from the room–like if Howard Hawks didn't know what he was doing–then over-correct with laughably canted alleyway night scenes. Longo, an obscenely popular visual artist in the 1980s and a talentless hack no matter the medium, doesn't communicate one iota of the precision or…

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  • Titanic

    Titanic

    ★★★★

    An epic of duality, bifurcated between day & night, life & death, female & male, romance & tragedy, and held together by love and close-ups. This is the film of a deep-sea explorer but also that of a matte painter at a time when the technique was dying out; just look at the sunsets! (Even James Cameron, however, felt this one was egregious). All those matte paintings, and yet still Cameron waited a week for the right sky for the actors to kiss under;…

  • Joy

    Joy

    ★★½

    When Bradley Cooper, standing in for David O. Russell, compares himself to David O. Selznick then directs a mop commercial on QVC like he's conducting a symphony orchestra, even I have to admit it's the most Russell thing that ever evered.