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  • Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom

    Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom

    I can’t rate this because I abandoned it pretty early on, but it wasn’t shock or revulsion that drove me away — more a sense that I was watching gassy, high-minded porn propped up by self-conscious formality and smug, pseudo-academic finger-wagging (and no small amount of winking perviness). Call me a boor, but sometimes it takes a bullshitter to spot bullshit.

    I’m sure I would’ve had a different experience if I’d skipped Pasolini’s dire, read-aloud introduction, which I’ll do if…

  • The Manson Family

    The Manson Family

    ★★★

    Sharon Tate’s murder gets the Fire Walk With Me treatment, and whatever you think of the rest of this movie if that scene doesn’t rattle you then you’re made of stone.

    Karina Longworth got the last word on the Manson story nearly a decade later, in case you still need a dose — her take is more through, less exploitative, and somehow more disturbing, despite all the gore and grime Van Bebber piles on here. Still, she probably owes him a hat tip.

    Personally, though, I’ve had enough Charlie to last two lifetimes. I’m done.

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  • It Comes at Night

    It Comes at Night

    ★★★★

    The title’s practically meaningless, a lure to get inveterate horror fans to sit still for a movie that pivots on loss, lies, attachment fear, bloodthirsty patriarchal ineptitude, and a pair of fatal acts of kindness. Horror is what we do to each other, kids.

    I have no problem with this approach, especially in a film that uses interior space and light so beautifully and that wields dread-for-the-sake-of-dread with such expertise. I had low expectations going into this, all of them were exceeded.

  • The Shallows

    The Shallows

    ★★½

    Most effective as a subverted Disney princess movie: The male dreamboat turns up too late to do much good, and doesn't even take measures to keep his beloved from choking on her own spit-up; the cute animal sidekick considers said spit-up a meal; the villain can't wait to make a meal out of our heroine; she buys him lunch.

    Least effective as a scary shark movie: The CGI monster is too weightless to be menacing, and it's grumpy and vindictive…