• The Beast

    The Beast

    ★★★½

    Just as graphic and gross as I was expecting, probably more so. But also funny, sharp, and — in the most backhanded way possible — tender.

    La Bête solidified my impression that what’s jarring in Borowczyk’s work isn’t what he’s willing to show, but how familiar even the most explicit images are once he rubs our faces in them. (Or whatever’s handy, including the local flora.) He’s a naturalist that way, heroically unafraid of exposing the sloppy physical processes that…

  • Horoscope

    Horoscope

    ★★★½

    The daily bump and grind.

  • Les Suspects

    Les Suspects

    ★★★★

    The methodical police work, focus on a single crime, and mundane resolution in this were satisfying to me, a remedy of sorts to the high body counts and absurd plot twists common to the giallos I’ve watched over the past couple of years. Better yet was the movie’s clear acknowledgement of Mimsy Farmer as 1970s Euro cinema’s most beguiling Yank tabula rasa. I haven’t touched this list in a while, but Les Suspects earned a fairly high spot in it.

  • Night Games

    Night Games

    ☆☆☆☆☆/★★★★★

    Worst baby shower ever.

    In broad strokes — and the strokes are very broad indeed — this is what I imagine people who’ve never seen a Bergman film think Bergman films are like: dour, high-minded smut overflowing with sad vibes and obliviously indifferent to moral boundaries.

    In its details, though, Zetterling finds tenderness and exhilaration in her framework of loss, burgeoning autonomy, and the ever-shaky potential for emotional growth. She’s also savvy about when to jolt the narrative before…

  • We Won't Grow Old Together

    We Won't Grow Old Together

    ★★★★½

    Closer to One or Both of Us May Not Survive the Next 20 Minutes Together.

    As wretched as Jean is, and as undeserving of his petty fury as Catherine is (despite her bowling pin–like devotion to the guy), Pialat’s film—just my second, and the first of his features—is a poignant exercise in detached eavesdropping that transcends the bitterness and desperation at its core. Pure cinema, in other words, in which we as spectators play a not insignificant part.

    The jumpy…

  • The Cat

    The Cat

    As satisfyingly outrageous as this movie is in almost every way, I can’t recommend it due to how roughly the stunt cats (and probably dogs) are treated. A couple of scenes effectively cross the line into animal torture, all for the sake of fleeting human entertainment. Wish I’d passed on it.

  • Blanche

    Blanche

    ★★★★★

    Looking back it shouldn’t come as a surprise that European cinema’s most notorious arthouse perv was also a ferocious social critic, clear-eyed about how entrenched power serves its desires at the expense of the defenseless and outraged by the inevitable, blood-soaked spiral that ensues when its indulgences are challenged. This isn’t just the best Walerian Borowcyzk movie I’ve seen (of just a few, admittedly), it’s one of the best movies I’ve seen in general.

    And while he might’ve served his…

  • The Northman

    The Northman

    ★★★★½

    Now do Blood Meridian.

  • The Sex of Angels

    The Sex of Angels

    ★★★½

    I honestly don’t remember much about Interrabang or Top Sensation beyond the pulchritude, but this movie—with its restless forward propulsion, ugly edge, and third-act dark turn—seems only tangentially related. As with Bora Bora Liberatore sneaks muted social criticism into the (chastely) sexed-up antics, which at least gives the impression that there’s more to chew on than in the average hedonistic Aquarian-age romp.

    What won’t linger from Il sesso degli angeli’ is the awful, panned-and-scanned English dub* I watched, a true…

  • Spare Parts

    Spare Parts

    ★★★½

    Not especially thrilling and ultimately kind of tedious, but fun all the same thanks to the Las Cruces, NM, and NYC locations. According to a reliable source the protagonists spend an unreasonable amount of time going back and forth on Highway 70 outside Cruces, while I noticed that they somehow crossed over the Queensboro Bridge into Battery Park. The magic of movies, I guess. Anyway, the cast—especially Speidel and Roth—have a natural ease that augments the scenery-spotting, and the restored German-language scenes are a real bracer. You could do worse.

  • Run, Angel, Run!

    Run, Angel, Run!

    ★★★½

    Dirtbags on road bikes, with enough cruelty and derangement to make it a squeaker for this list.

    It’s essentially a western chase-revenge movie with motorcycles instead of horses (the latter seeming quite a bit more reliable), but the recycled plot is applied with surprising success. And low-rent aesthetics and William Smith’s grooming aside, the central narrative pull between irresponsible vagabond life and stifling, settled squaredom is well developed and admirably equivocal. The women characters pick up the tab for the…

  • The Home

    The Home

    ★★★

    I originally wasn’t going to log this because it’s so slight, but a couple of nights after watching it its bogeymen creepy-crawled their way into my nightmares — profoundly so. Well done in that regard.