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  • Au Hasard Balthazar

    Au Hasard Balthazar

    I have come to realize that I find something genially disingenuous in Robert Bresson's approach, at least in the latter half of his career. (I say "genially disingenuous" as disingenuousness implies an intentionality or even malice that I don't wish to assign.) The complete refusal of psychology, denial character motivation, and suppression of expressed emotion are designed to strip away artifice to expose the "real", but aren't psychology, motivation, and expressed emotion significant aspects of the reality of our experiences?…

  • Solo: A Star Wars Story

    Solo: A Star Wars Story

    It feels like many reviews of Solo were effectively written the day Ron Howard replaced Lord & Miller, and the narrative was struck: the film would be generic, a corporate product rather than an individual one. Yet, upon viewing, it's clear that there is an authorial presence here: that of Lawrence Kasdan. Isn't this exactly the sort of Star Wars picture one might anticipate from the director of Silverado? (Or, for that matter, Body Heat?) . One wonders why they didn't…

  • Ismael's Ghosts

    Ismael's Ghosts

    Arnaud Desplechin films an Arnaud Desplechin film about how Arnaud Desplechin films Arnaud Desplechin films.

  • Bad Lieutenant

    Bad Lieutenant

    X% excellent, Y% grotesqueploitation, Z% tedium -- but I'm not sure what percentages solve those variables.

  • Juliet of the Spirits

    Juliet of the Spirits

    Light is the very substance of a film [.... L]ight is ideology, feeling, color, tone, profundity, atmosphere, storytelling [....] Light excavates a face or smooths it out, creates expression where none exists, endows dullness with intelligence, makes the insipid seductive [....] Light outlines the elegance of a body [....] Light is the hallucinatory salt, which, burning, unleashes visions.
    - Federico Fellini, Comments on Film

    Making films in color is, I believe, an impossible operation; cinema is movement, color immobility [...]…

  • Lady Macbeth

    Lady Macbeth

    This goes down a lot easier once you realize it's Leave Her to Heaven and not Thomas Hardy.

  • Loveless


    What esteem I have for this film comes from its strong first half, which despite its grim setting contains doses of biting humor. Unfortunately, the second half turns into the world's slowest and most schematic procedural, resolving in a heavy-handed allegory about The Sad State of Mother Russia.

    Spirit Awards 2017

  • Happy New Year

    Happy New Year

    Both IMDB and Letterboxd list this as being 90 minutes and a comedy, but it's nearly 115 minutes and I didn't laugh once. On the other hand, in many ways it's a much better movie in the "extra" 25 minutes than in the 90 that lead into it, though ultimately it suffers from an undersold love story and a lead who is neither sympathetic or interesting. Seeing Francoise Fabian do everything possible to try to make this work simply underscores both the high bar of difficulty and achievement of My Night at Maud's.

  • Phantom Thread

    Phantom Thread

    Twenty years ago, when I walked out of Boogie Nights, if you walked up to me and said "This director will make a film about a guy named Woodcock," I so definitely would have thought it would have been like this, right?

  • My Night at Maud's

    My Night at Maud's

    Stop coming at me with your "Die Hard is the best Christmas movie." Yeah, it's a blast, but only incidentally Christmas. Christmas dinner at Maud's, on the other hand ...

  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi

    Star Wars: The Last Jedi

    Like the remote-control TV channel selectors that children love to play with, and the mechanical shooting games found in arcades, Star Wars offers solitary, narcissistic pleasures more than communal or romantic myths to keep its audience cheering.

    - Jonathan Rosenbaum, 1977

    I have attempted, in passing, to grapple with this Rosenbaum quote before; with the virtue of retrospect, at first blush it seems perverse to identify Star Wars' appeal as a "solitary pleasure" when the franchise is propped up by…

  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi

    Star Wars: The Last Jedi

    The film is still sitting with me, but my initial reaction is that it gets the big things about Star Wars right: the space combat, the lightsaber duels, and the references to The Lady of Shanghai and Out 1.