• Mad God

    Mad God

    ★★★½

    Many years in the making, Mad God is the stop-motion passion project of special effects legend Phil Tippett, best known for his pioneering work on Star WarsRoboCopJurassic Park, and others.

    Tippett cites Karel Zeman’s revered collage aesthetic as a primary inspiration, but I see a lot more of the Quay brothers in Mad God, or at least the grotesque brand of Street of Crocodiles worship seen in Adam Jones’s early Tool videos. While Tippett’s film shares the Quays’ tactile grime and indifference to lucid narrative, it…

  • We Own This City

    We Own This City

    ★★★

    This is essentially a six-hour Vox explainer video—sans cute graphics and podcast cadence—shoehorned into a drama. Like The Wire before it, it excels at unpacking long-festering issues in the American criminal justice system, making a product that’s both coherent and cogent out of a complex story on a non-linear timeline. But all the information it wants to convey and all the points it wants to make are spoken rather plainly, which may make it successful as an explainer, but it…

  • A Quiet Place Part II

    A Quiet Place Part II

    ★★

    If you have a thing for endless closeups of extremely filthy bare feet, have I got the movie for you

  • The Ear

    The Ear

    ★★★½

    I was never brave enough to ask what would make Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? an even more fraught experience, but yeah, putting it under an authoritarian regime does the trick.

  • The Godfather

    The Godfather

    ★★★★★

    I had seen theatrical screenings of The Godfather maybe two or three times before, and while the blemishes on those aging prints may have spoken to the ruin-porn enthusiast in me, there’s no denying they were a distracting real-world intrusion on a landmark work of fiction. For the 50th-anniversary restoration, it’s tempting to include the standard caveat about the magic inherent in film projection that’s lost in digital projection, but I’ve never been more convinced that that’s purely nostalgic nonsense. Of…

  • Jackass Forever

    Jackass Forever

    ★★★½

    I’ve never been less worried about Steve-O, and it feels good.

  • The Visitor

    The Visitor

    ★★★

    There’s at least a handful of late-’70s genre oddities that somehow wrangled stylish production and bankable stars in support of truly bizarre ideas. If one of them were to really nail that art-damaged-big-budget-B-movie alchemy, it could be the holy grail of weird cinema, and I hold out hope that such a thing exists. But until it surfaces, I’ll continue to be mildly disappointed by The Visitor, The Manitou, Altered States, et al: amazing trailers that make for somewhat underwhelming features.

  • Mare of Easttown

    Mare of Easttown

    ★★★½

    It’s hard to square the twisty pulp charm of the whodunit with the relentless emotional sadism of the drama—virtually every character who isn’t hopelessly broken at the beginning is hopelessly broken by the end—but I definitely don’t regret watching, so I guess it’s well-crafted enough to have it both ways.

  • Line Goes Up: The Problem With NFTs

    Line Goes Up: The Problem With NFTs

    This seems like precisely the sort of follow-the-money deep dive I want to see on this topic, but it’s written as an essay, not a video. By now, enough ink has been spilled about 21st century economics and crypto to make clear that words alone won’t demystify them, and a YouTuber reading the words aloud against a blank backdrop doesn’t change that. The incredibly dry presentation is a poor fit for the arcane financial and technical concepts it tries to unpack, and the infrequent attempts it makes to actually visualize that information do little to aid comprehension. I called it quits after 15 minutes.

  • When a Stranger Calls

    When a Stranger Calls

    ★½

    I could never have believed how boring this is if I hadn’t seen it for myself.

  • The House

    The House

    ★★★★

    I was pretty excited for this one. Emma de Swaef, Marc Roels, and Niki Lindroth von Bahr are doing the most interesting work in narrative stop-motion animation today, and while the bizarre nature of that work probably precludes it from attracting much more than a cult following, having some Netflix money thrown at it hopefully bodes well for its sustainability.

    The House’s first segment, a fable about a 19th century family selling its soul, sees de Swaef and Roels taking…

  • The Matrix Resurrections

    The Matrix Resurrections

    ★★

    Look, I’m here for the action. As much as the Matrix series is an enjoyable alchemy of classic mythology, cyberpunk, and pop philosophy, anyone who says the action isn’t far and away its biggest strength is kidding themselves. The increasingly convoluted technological underpinnings, the endless rumination on the paradox of free will, the paper-thin character work—it’s all set dressing for some extraordinary fight and chase sequences, bolstered by visionary special effects. Or at least it was for a little while.…