Favorite films

  • A Clockwork Orange
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • The Conformist
  • The Thin Red Line

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  • Spiderhead

    ★★

  • Cha Cha Real Smooth

    ★★★½

  • Shithouse

    ★★★½

  • Hustle

    ★★★½

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  • Vanilla Sky

    Vanilla Sky

    ★★★★½

    Exists in a perfect dialectic with EYES WIDE SHUT -- the Kubrick text not only helps unpack this one, but this focuses some things about the Kubrick as well. There are even visual callbacks (Alicia Witt walking backwards seductively through LE is a straight up rip) as well as David's motto, which -- as he says twice at his birthday party in the first act -- is "living the dream." People keep telling him to wake up, but he has…

  • Brief Encounter

    Brief Encounter

    ★★★★½

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

    A flat-out masterpiece for the first third or so, when the impossible unrequited love takes on a quality that clearly inspired Wong Kar-wai to do IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE (I'd be shocked if he hadn't seen this film), complete with a framing device that has Johnson narrating in flashback to her husband, but only in her thoughts -- things she can't actually voice to the man she's betrayed.

    When the affair starts to take on a more pedestrian shape…

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  • Spiderhead

    Spiderhead

    ★★

    I've heard plenty of good things about George Saunders and would love to get into his short stories some day, but unless Kosinski and his writing team completely changed everything about the source, this story is some incredibly lame shit.

    What's more obnoxiously low-hanging fruit than a dystopian sci-fi morality tale about the evils of the pharmaceutical industry? Oooh, Big Pharma using prisoners as lab rats! No accountability! Emotion is too natural! Ugh.

    As much as I loved MAVERICK, Kosinski's…

  • Cha Cha Real Smooth

    Cha Cha Real Smooth

    ★★★½

    Solidifies the Raiff brand, which is affable with a capital AF.

    Doubles down on the sweetness and mama's-boy-ness of SHITHOUSE, with Andrew just a slightly more extroverted version of Alex. Also features another totally pointless epilogue (complete with a title card announcing time has passed) but one that doesn't torpedo things as badly as in the debut. Where it still succeeds is in the dimensions of the characters, fleshing out even supporting roles with bits of realism usually elided in…

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  • Mission: Impossible

    Mission: Impossible

    ★★★★★

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

    It's all about the scene in the third act when Ethan and Jim reunite and have a drink together. Jim is trying to convince Ethan that Kittridge is the mole, not knowing Ethan already figured out it was Jim because of the Drake Hotel bible. So Ethan, having the upper hand, narrates a flashback where he pretends to realize how Kittridge did it, all for Jim's benefit -- meanwhile, DePalma's visuals tell a different story: the way Ethan is seeing…

  • Devs

    Devs

    ★½

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

    Even if this show didn't feature what is probably the single worst lead performance of any major prestige drama in the last 25 years (but it does: Sonoya Mizuno is deeply, all-encompassingly terrible in a way it's hard to fathom, episode after episode), it would still be a failure of ideas. ANNIHILATION is starting to feel more and more like an anomaly; its clever sci-fi concept had the courage to perform an existential autopsy of the human condition without pulling…