Todd

“Cinema is the most beautiful fraud in the world.” —Jean-Luc Godard

Current Favorites — Best First Watches of 2021

Favorite films

  • La Strada
  • In a Lonely Place
  • Memories of Murder
  • Whiplash

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  • Rocky II

    ★★★½

  • Rocky

    ★★★★★

  • National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

    ★★★★★

  • Body and Soul

    ★★★★

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  • Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles

    Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles

    ★★★★½

    The Criterion Challenge 2022
    #16: Directed by Chantal Akerman
    Progress: 34/52

    This is not merely a slice-of-life film, but a whole heapin' helpin' of life. It's rare that a movie can be at once austere and audacious, but Chantel Ackerman manages the trick. The viewer is spared no (occasionally excruciating) detail as the daily routines of middle-aged widow Jeanne are revealed over the course of three days. We watch her shine her son's shoes, prepare a meat loaf, wash the…

  • In a Lonely Place

    In a Lonely Place

    ★★★★★

    Criterion Challenge #13: 1950s
    Progress: 21/52

    As Dix Steele (no, this isn't a porno), a screenwriter who finds himself under investigation for murder, Humphrey Bogart is astonishing. He depicts Steele's Jeckyll and Hyde persona with a manic precision that both charms and terrifies. Steele is a creative genius who's his own worst enemy, whose imaginative brilliance for violence seems poised at any moment to manifest into reality (and sometimes does).

    Steele is a bit of a sadist even at his…

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  • Body and Soul

    Body and Soul

    ★★★★

    I had never heard of this boxing noir gem until seeing it on a list of all-time great boxing films. John Garfield is terrific as the small-town-boy who gets seduced by the dark side. The rich atmosphere and tight (though familiar) plot are expertly crafted in creating a film that deserves more recognition.

  • Raging Bull

    Raging Bull

    ★★★★★

    One of the great achievements in American cinema, I always pick up on something different with every viewing. This time I was particularly struck by Cathy Moriarty’s understated yet essential performance as Jake LaMotta’s sultry, stoic, and long-suffering wife.

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  • The Thing

    The Thing

    ★★★★★

    Hard to believe that one of the all-time greats of horror cinema was reviled both critically and by audiences at the time of its release, so much so that it basically derailed Carpenter’s career. It may have just been too much for mainstream audiences, as the special effects are shockingly gory even by the standards of today. The paranoia that quickly sweeps over the group creates palpable tension and the high stakes guessing game is edge-of-your-seat stuff. And it’s just plain creepy. Ennio Morricone’s pulsating score deserves special mention as well. I don’t suspect this classic will ever go stale.

  • The Batman

    The Batman

    ★★★★½

    A moody, neo-noir near classic—“near” because some fat could’ve been trimmed off the 3-hour run time. Paul Dano steals the show in an astonishing performance as an appropriately contemporary, incel-ed version of the Riddler.