• Lawrence of Arabia

    Lawrence of Arabia

    ★★★★★

    "There is nothing in the desert, and no man needs nothing."

    ...

    "Truly, for some men, nothing is written unless they write it."

    ...

    "What is it, Major Lawrence, that attracts you personally to the desert?"
    "It's clean."

    ...

    "I pray that I may never see the desert again. Hear me, God."
    "You will come. There is only the desert for you."

    ...

    Which does man prefer, ultimately: Something or Nothing? The contest is not so open and shut as you might think.

  • Vertigo

    Vertigo

    ★★★★★

    “It’s too late; I’ve got my face on.”

    Two victims victimizing each other in an endless, hopeless cycle. Surely this is one of the most tragic movies ever made.

    “It’s too late; there’s no bringing her back.”

  • Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

    Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

    ★★★

    As Doctor Strange might say, ahh, crap. This hasn’t been out two weeks and I already feel like I have to issue a retraction. Approaching the film for the first time with very low expectations, I was happy to just go along for the wild ride, but the second time around, it turns out the film’s pacing is more enervating than exhilarating. On a first viewing, seeing any recognizable fingerprints from the greatest director of superhero movies was enough to…

  • Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

    Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

    ★★★½

    "Alone, never have you been."

    OK, I actually really like it. Like The Force Awakens (and unlike The Last Jedi), The Rise of Skywalker is a movie that is barely holding itself together, but it evinces a firmer grasp on the core themes of Lucas' films and does more to build them out in new and compelling ways. The Force Awakens spent a lot of time writing blank checks; The Rise of Skywalker actually cashes some, and – somewhat miraculously…

  • Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

    Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

    ★★★½

    Sometimes, to do what's right, we have to be steady and give up the things we want the most... even our dreams.

    Whoops, wrong movie – but only sort of. This is very much a Spider-Man 2 B-side, a less weighty and impactful riff on the same theme. It's not great, but it's goofy, goopy, groovy,* and good enough for me.

    *Bruce Campbell cameo > [REDACTED] cameo(s)

  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi

    Star Wars: The Last Jedi

    ★★★★

    I have plenty of thoughts on all the symbolism and whatnot (unlike The Force Awakens, I've written about this one at length before and, long story short, Johnson's done his homework), but mostly I just want to say, all right, I admit it:

    This movie is really good.

    Like, really, really, really good. I was simply buzzing with giddiness afterwards. I still have quibbles, sure, but they're just that: quibbles, not deep reservations. Biggest takeaway is that Johnson does Star…

  • The Northman

    The Northman

    ★★★

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    Bro, if I wanted to watch a dude with an Oedipus complex fight another dude in a volcano while his wife gives birth to twins, a boy and a girl, I could have just watched Revenge of the Sith.

  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens

    Star Wars: The Force Awakens

    ★★★½

    First time watching the sequels and making a really concerted effort to see if/how they build off the tripartite soul symbolism I laid out in my lecture. I am not sure how coherently they map on. It seems like, according to The Force Awakens, the light side is good and the dark side is evil. Nonetheless, I have some thoughts.

    When The Force Awakens begins, the transcendent is absent (i.e., the Force is asleep). It is the province of the…

  • The Searchers

    The Searchers

    ★★★★★

    Begins in darkness and ends in darkness, sure as the turning of the earth.

    May be Ford's greatest film (not my favorite) because of – not in spite of – the fact that it is far from his most perfect. See also: T.S. Eliot on Hamlet or Umberto Eco on Casablanca. Put another way, if not all the pieces of The Searchers fit together, perhaps that's OK, because according to The Searchers, I don't think all the pieces of the world fit together either.

  • A View to a Kill

    A View to a Kill

    A dopey, lifeless update of Goldfinger for the computer era: instead of gold, this time the villain has a harebrained scheme to corner the market on microchips! (How do you do, fellow kids?) Aside from a halfway decent firetruck chase with a free-swinging ladder – Gore Verbinski has entered the chat – this is pretty entirely devoid of redeeming qualities. Not even "Christopher Walken as a Bond villain" is as good as it sounds on paper, though it is kind…

  • Ambulance

    Ambulance

    ★★★½

    Michael Bay got a drone for his birthday or something and was like "Oh man, I gotta make a movie with this!"

    (Not a criticism.)

  • Star Wars

    Star Wars

    It was a great honor to give Emmaus Classical Academy's inaugural tutor lecture last month. In my talk, entitled "The Skywalker Soul: The Moral Philosophy of Star Wars," I spoke about what I believe George Lucas' films have to teach us about how to order our souls such that we can effectively practice virtue, fight against vice, and flourish as human beings.

    You can watch the recording of the lecture here.