• Clearcut

    Clearcut

    ★★★½

    In 1991, Graham Greene gets an Oscar nomination for supporting White Messiah Extraordinaire Kevin Costner in 1990's Dances with Wolves. Playing an unhinged Native Canadian who kidnaps and tortures (mostly psychologically) a couple of would-be White Messiahs in Clearcut that year seems like a weird - but appreciated! - revenge. I really like what this does for the subgenre. White audiences are programmed to side with the lawyer fighting for indigenous land rights against the cartoonish mill owner (Battlestar Galactica's…

  • Be Pretty and Shut Up!

    Be Pretty and Shut Up!

    ★★★★

    Delphine Seyrig gets behind the camera for Sois belle et tais-toi! (Be Pretty and Shut Up!), a series of interviews with actresses about what it means to BE a woman in the industry - Hollywood's (there's a surprising number of English speakers who have to be voiced over, then subtitle, which is confusing to the bilingual mind) and French-speaking Europe's - at what might well be the nadir for quality roles for women - shot in 1975, made available in…

  • See How They Run

    See How They Run

    ★★★½

    The comedy whodunit See How They Run is a lot of fun. Set in and around a long-running Agatha Christie play in 1950s London, and the movie production waiting in the wings, it's full of Easter Eggs referencing Agatha's works and other whodunits, and a kind of self-aware humor that delightfully comments on this type of story. While Sam Rockwell is the detective in charge - a Clouseau-esque drunkard who nevertheless gets on with it - the heart and soul…

  • Baxter, Vera Baxter

    Baxter, Vera Baxter

    ★★★★

    From the first shot of Baxter, Vera Baxter (which is on the poster), Marguerite Duras is painting with her camera. I don't know if she's referencing actual paintings (that first one, certainly) or just evoking portrait, still life and landscape generally, but this IS a portrait. The portrait of a woman, but as the title subtly hints, her disintegrating marriage in particular. Duras isolates characters in their own frames, very seldom going to two-shots, and often letting conversations play out…

  • Abar, the First Black Superman

    Abar, the First Black Superman

    ★★★

    Though made in 1977, Abar, the First Black Superman feels like a much earlier effort based on its low do-it-yourself production values, one-time actors doing their best with single takes, bad sound, and truly horrific depictions of racists. Abar is the kind of sincere political film we might have expected from the end of the 60s or early 70s, with the eponymous character a charismatic Black Panther-type leader, and Dr. King's speech weaving in and out of the soundtrack. The…

  • The Bravados

    The Bravados

    ★★★½

    In The Bravados, Gregory Peck walks into a small town holding their first ever hanging to see the four condemned men twitch at the end of a rope for the terrible wrong he believes they've done him. Of course, they'll escape and he'll be forced to track them down. That's the gist of this better-than-most western that on the one hand, doesn't always follow formula, and on the other, turns out to be a dark moral fable about one's reasons…

  • The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot

    The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot

    ★★★½

    The thing that attracts you to The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot - its title - is also its biggest weakness. It creates expectations in terms of tone - crazy B-movie à la Kung Fury, but it's not that at all, much more poignant - and it gives away the game in terms of plot (or plots, one a flashback, the other current day). One to throw on your list of movies in which Sam Elliott sits…

  • The Milky Way

    The Milky Way

    ★★★★

    The Father of Surrealist Cinema, Luis Buñuel, sends us down the merry road of Christianity take-downs in The Milky Way (which is sometimes called the Path of St-James, a pilgrimage two tramps are more or less making in the film). Though largely just thematically-linked vignettes criss-crossing the "path", often seeming like parables, their dialog taken directly from Scripture and theology texts, it's a delight in the way it mixes religious iconography, various historical time frames, surrealism (I love the bit…

  • Accident

    Accident

    ★★★½

    In Accident, Joeph Losey presents us with a car crash. A philosophy professor races out of his house, sees it's two young people he knows, takes the survivor into his house and doesn't tell the police about her. Who are they? Why were they racing dangerously towards his home? Why would he cover for the girl? We're sent back in time through his memories, pitched as moments that heighten his particular concerns - aging, inadequacy, vitality, lust as a means…

  • Do Revenge

    Do Revenge

    ★★★½

    We're practically in the Buffyverse with Do Revenge. It's not that Sarah Michelle Geller is in it, so much as the idea of this crazy prep school with obscenely rich kids who banter with references they shouldn't know, soundtracked by 90s alternative bops. It's like I was back 25 years, but with today's social media landscape and woke issues. At first, this is Mean Girls meets Strangers on a Train, as two unlikely friends agree to "do revenge" on each…

  • Pearl

    Pearl

    ★★★½

    I didn't know I wanted X to become a trilogy, but I'm there for it. Pearl gives meaning to having Mia Goth play the old woman - unrecognizable under tons of make-up - in the first "Maxxxine" film, and just as X emulated the look of 70s exploitation horror, the prequel pays homage to Judy Garland's Technicolor dreams - the plot is out of A Star Is Born and several movies of that sort, but the iconography is right out…

  • Colma: The Musical

    Colma: The Musical

    ★★★★

    When it comes to cheaply-made indie movies, several genres come to mind - horror, sci-fi, mumblecore - but a musical?! Colma: The Musical gets bonus points for being ballsy enough to attempt it, but regardless of its origins, I quite like it. Colma is one of San Francisco's outlying towns, a sleepy suburban dead end town, to hear the characters talk about it. Three friends, just out of high school, dreaming of better things, but will they ever get out…