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  • Foreign Intrigue

    Foreign Intrigue

    ★★

    I checked out Foreign Intrigue because I saw it described as a film noir and because it appeared to have Robert Mitchum sleuthing in a raincoat, and while it delivers on the latter, it was a little more disappointing in terms of the former.

    While it retains some of the hallmarks of noir—the criminal underworld, the explicit WWII fallout—it feels much more like a straight-up espionage thriller, a proto–James Bond with all its exotic foreign locations and its underground SPECTRE-esque…

  • Laura

    Laura

    ★★★★★

    "I am the most misquoted man in America."

    I rewatched a bunch of my favorite noirs for a piece I wrote on flashbacks and voiceover, and without self-plagiarizing too much from the points I make about it there, what's unique about Laura is that it opens with classic noir voiceover (the first sound we hear after the opening credits roll is Waldo Lydecker's voice), and, after a quick reel of introductions to the principle characters, it also dives into some…

  • Ran

    Ran

    ★★★★★

    I originally wrote this piece for an independent publication, and when it didn't make their final cut I thought maybe I'd put it up on my joke of a Patreon, but then the coronavirus hit and suddenly it feels wrong to ask people for money to read my silly writing when so many lives have suddenly become so unstable. As a medical news journalist (even a part-time one), I'm very fortunate to have a job that will theoretically remain necessary…

  • The Italian Job

    The Italian Job

    ★★

    "Oh, you're so witty! Why don't you take advantage of me?"

    I was 15 years old when this came out in 2003, maybe the perfect point in my life for an Ocean's Eleven knockoff with some poorly aged humor, from thinly veiled weight-shaming to blatant objectification to Seth Green talking about Napster. I watched this enough times in high school to still remember most of the dialogue, so now I laugh almost reflexively at the characters, my rose-tinted glasses blinding…

  • Mildred Pierce

    Mildred Pierce

    ★★★★★

    "I felt as if I'd been born in a kitchen and lived there all my life."

    Mildred Pierce is a noir-inflected family melodrama about the intersection of motherhood and class: a working class mother struggles to raise her spoiled daughter with aspirations of upper-class nobility, reframing classic mother–daughter dynamics as a conflict between hard-working bootstrap individualists and parasitic indolent aristocrats, implicitly politicizing the work of motherhood.

    Mildred starts a business from nothing, and her older daughter and second husband are…

  • The Platform

    The Platform

    ★★★

    "It's better to eat than be eaten."

    Just, like, painfully obvious social allegory about the way capitalism encourages overconsumption. A platform covered in food starts at level one of a vertical prison and gradually travels downward, with prisoners eating what they can as it passes them, leaving nothing for anyone on the lower levels. The upper class consumes all the socio-economic resources, leaving none of the lower class.

    Pretty wild to see this at a time when we're all stuck…

  • Detour

    Detour

    ★★★★★

    "Did you ever want to forget something? Did you ever want to cut away a piece of your memory? You can't, you know, no matter how hard you try. You can change the scenery, but sooner or later you'll get a whiff of perfume, or somebody'll say a certain phrase, and you're licked again."

  • Spenser Confidential

    Spenser Confidential

    ★★

    "Oat milk? What the fuck is that?"

    On August 31, 2019, a group of white supremacists organized the so-called "Straight Pride Parade" in Boston, MA, to support and spread racist and homophobic propaganda, hosting speakers like Milo Yiannopoulos. A nonviolent counter-protest drew over five times more supporters than the march itself, and the Boston Police security force disproportionately targeted these counter-protesters with pepper spray and physical assault—which the police commissioner said he was "proud of" and "impressed with."

    Over six…

  • Double Indemnity

    Double Indemnity

    ★★★★★

    "Now get out of here before I throw my desk at you."
    "I love you too."

  • Emma.

    Emma.

    ★★★

    This probably outs me as a certifiable weirdo, but Emma is my favorite Austen novel. I wasn't always this way—I went through both Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility phases, and the 1995 BBC Pride and Prejudice is still my favorite Austen adaptation by a long shot—but when it comes to the stories themselves, Emma took me a while to get into but has only grown in my appreciation.

    I love how strong Emma is on her own, in…

  • Out of the Past

    Out of the Past

    ★★★★★

    "Which place was your favorite?"
    "This one right here."
    "I bet you say that to all the places."

  • Terminator: Dark Fate

    Terminator: Dark Fate

    ★★★

    "I wish you two weren't so white."

    The future is female

    People are losing their jobs to machines. Factories are increasingly automated, and the consequences of this change are literally deadly. Dani's brother loses his job to a machine—and then he loses his life to one. The 20th century utopian fantasy of an automated future free from work never materialized; instead, the ruling class uses advances in technology to exploit and oppress the workers in new and more sophisticated ways.…