• Kino-Pravda No. 1

    Kino-Pravda No. 1

    ★★★½

    I wrote about Dziga Vertov's experimental newsreel, which stretched the bounds of what a documentary could be and hoped to forge a new cinematic future that never came to pass, for my new Substack about obscure film.

    burntnitrate.substack.com/p/kino-pravda-and-seeing-the-unseen

  • I Am Legend

    I Am Legend

    One of the movies I was obsessed with as a little kid despite never having actually seen it, wholly due to its marketing and post-apocalyptic premise. In the early days of YouTube, someone recreated this whole movie in Halo 3 and now obviously that's gone. That's sad, huh?

    Almost tricks you into thinking you're watching a better film than you are through the appropriately cold direction and the impressive use of silence. Way too much CGI, needless giant setpieces, and a baffling ending considering everything that comes before it.

  • Gamer

    Gamer

    Correctly predicted how the consumer need for realism and immersion in video games would only create a feedback loop of players wanting more and more outlets for sadism and misanthropy. Neveldine/Taylor can obviously make a movie kinetic, but I wish the approach to elaborating on the driving criticism of the film was less annoying, self-contradictory, and misanthropic itself.

  • Kino-Pravda No. 6

    Kino-Pravda No. 6

    ★★★★

    This one should have been titled Vertov Gets His Groove Back

  • Tropic Thunder

    Tropic Thunder

    ★★★½

    Fucked up how the Vietnam opening is actually well-made. I'm ooh-ing and aah-ing at the shot composition and the action blocking.

  • Us

    Us

    ★★½

    Had avoided this because I had heard it was a disappointing follow-up and that assumption was correct. Very cool concept that I wish was thought out more than the amount of detail in this suggests. Neat split diopter shot near the end though!

  • Get Out

    Get Out

    ★★★★½

    Had not seen this since it came out. Not a surprise, but it still holds up so well. A main character who is smart, observant, puts pieces together, and only fails when people are one step ahead of him. That's damn good writing.

    It really is so cool that Jordan Peele got out of sketch comedy and immediately became such an acclaimed filmmaker whose name alone sells tickets because it's a near-absolute guarantee of quality. Also a sign of a good director when your debut film starts a movement of far, far worse copycats trying to ape your success.

  • Above the Law

    Above the Law

    the sick and twisted critics: this movie has such a thin plot that you can barely tell what's going on. no one has any real characterization to speak of and we only get a hamfisted message at the very end

    me: This Andrew Davis picture carries a ghostly, Miami Vice-esque atmosphere. Violent events in the life of Nico's police career connected only by a conspiracy that seems entirely out of anyone's grasp. He is only reminded intermittently of what he used to fight for, passion that remains elusive in a world increasingly atomized from anything resembling ideology, a belief, a want.

  • Hard to Kill

    Hard to Kill

    Steven Seagal's star power is such an interesting phenomenon to look back on. No Schwarzenegger or Van Damme-like charisma to speak of and also far less acting ability. Clearly trained in martial arts but not in a way that prevents the editor from needing to cut around his fighting. An overwhelming need to compensate for those shortcomings permeates every frame of this, with the constant emphasis that he's some sort of sex god, immensely noble, and downright worldly, but he so obviously is none of those. How did America allow him being made into a household name?

  • Michael Clayton

    Michael Clayton

    ★★★★

    Starts off bafflingly strong with literary-like screenwriting and an almost ghostly, atomized, Michael Mann-esque atmosphere, but loses its grip a bit as it moves and becomes a more traditional story. Still, how is this so fucking good? Like, for years this film had this aura of being like a boilerplate "guy movie" with Clooney at the helm, but Jesus. A very pleasant surprise!

  • They Shall Not Grow Old

    They Shall Not Grow Old

    Digital upscaling and colorization of physical film is so awful, man. This isn't an advancement that opens truly incredible opportunities, like digital cinematography or sound-on-film, this just serves to make the original product look worse because you're lazy. If you actually restored it properly and then showed it as such, it would look great, because physical film can be scaled up that high! But it looks bad! Really bad! And this is now the standard of restoration to many laymen…

  • In the Darkness of Time

    In the Darkness of Time

    ★★★

    Even if Godard's films themselves vary pretty wildly in quality (at least to me), his late style will never not be interesting and compelling to me. What a fascinating way of filmmaking.