Favorite films

  • Winter Sleep
  • The Beasts
  • Leviathan
  • Incendies

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  • A Haunting in Venice

    ★★★½

  • Death on the Nile

    ★★★

  • The Little Mermaid

    ★★

  • Stop Making Sense

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  • Quý Tử Bất Đắc Dĩ

    Quý Tử Bất Đắc Dĩ

    An excerpt from my Vietnam travelogue. I watched this in Hanoi on a day that poured on and off, "forcing" me to while away the hours in the local cineplex. There were poorly translated subtitles, so everything here is half conjecture. Most of the names are made up, as well, because there’s no IMDb or character listing online. Accuracy is besides the point. The aim was to pen an absurdly detailed, playfully bored, Dadaist experiment:

    “The first Vietnamese film of…

  • Asteroid City

    Asteroid City

    ★★★★★

    The platitudinous way to summate each successive Wes Anderson film is to deem it the "most Wes Anderson film Wes Anderson has ever made." With Asteroid City, this pithy slogan quickly pervaded the discourse, for obvious reasons. Anderson's stylistic and visual signifiers are all there: the pastel patina, the conflation of foreground/background, the mannered (dis)affection of emotionally damaged/stunted souls, the precociously smart wunderkinds, the sad-sack protagonist with a film camera slung around his neck, the mannequin-style tableaux. Wes' knack for…

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  • A Haunting in Venice

    A Haunting in Venice

    ★★★½

    Yet another serviceable entry and a solid ending (temporarily, at least) to Branagh’s informal Agatha Christie trilogy. Not sure how many of these he has in him, but I’m not complaining. Sure, they’re pretty milquetoast and light-footed but that’s part of the appeal. Clearly, they offer Branagh a premeditated whodunnit package that allows him to steep into the ambience and formalist designs he’s antsy to play with and explore.

    Here, he fills Venice with precipitous Dutch angles, gorgeous chiaroscuro lighting,…

  • Death on the Nile

    Death on the Nile

    ★★★

    A perfectly serviceable analgesic. Watched this pretty loopy on day three of popping Vicodin in my system to escape the jackhammered nerve firings in my eye and it did the trick of a mild, forgettable diversion. I find the love/hate polarity toward the gaudy CGI in the film fascinatingly fitting. It is undoubtedly hideous and beautiful, gloriously bad and repulsively cheap-looking. Like it’s beautiful yet culturally divisive (and mostly canceled cast), it is as worthy of vitriol and incrimination as…

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  • BlackBerry

    BlackBerry

    ★★★★½

    It all went downhill once they got rid of movie night…

    just saying

  • The Black Phone

    The Black Phone

    ★★

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

    Blumhouse films are easy on the eyes but not on the mind. This should open with a disclaimer: Beware of losing brain cells if you dare think during this movie. Everything in the script is conspicuously manufactured and cheap — vacuous frills superficially crafted to pander to a thoughtless audience. The serial killer, The Grabber (Ethan Hawke), has zero motive or psychological complexity — he’s about as well delineated as his stupid name. The black balloons and black truck he cruises…