• Mind Over Murder

    Mind Over Murder

    This is such a complex study of narrative, not only as an artistic feature, but also as an organizational system, both in terms of individual cognition and social collectives.

  • The Ghost Writer

    The Ghost Writer

    ★★★★★

    The real world counterpart to The Ninth Gate's Luciferian allegory: the cruelest, most deceitful evils are born from the highest of power networks. Formally pristine, crystalline.

  • Enemy of the State

    Enemy of the State

    Though the narrative gets extremely goofy and contrived on a scene-by-scene basis, it's anchored to chillingly precise, prophetic commentary on state surveillance's discreet expansion.

    Scott moves closer to the more radical editing/scene construction of his 2000s/2010s work; here, though, it's used to amplify a sense of multimedia omniscience rather than character subjectivity (as in Man on Fire and Domino).

  • The Taking of Jordan (All American Boy)

    The Taking of Jordan (All American Boy)

    ★★★★★

    A haunting and beautifully combative piece. I love the way Haddad uses visual and sonic textures: this feels, in some ways, like the transgressive cinematic equivalent of early noise & industrial music. The film conveys a kind of "silhouetted" narrative that seems to overlay its horror coding (a grim expression of "eternal return") over actual documentary footage and journalist photography with serious verisimilitude. I love seeing artists interested in confrontation and disruption, and I see these qualities all over Haddad's work.

  • Crimes of the Future

    Crimes of the Future

    Take a shot every time the narrator says "Antoine Rouge."

  • Dark Glasses

    Dark Glasses

    Heavily indebted to Poe, Argento's filmography consistently inhabits spaces of unreason, disorder, and perverseness. This is certainly true of Dark Glasses, which sees capacity for randomness and destruction both within and outside the human (see the solar eclipse, the pit writhing with vicious snakes, the cruel murders). More surprising is that this film offers such a hopeful and empathetic tribute to social outsiders, the sorts of people that Argento rightfully recognizes at the core of horror (a genre whose best…

  • Diary of a Madman

    Diary of a Madman

    In a lot of ways this is crudely executed, there's no denying it; it's definitely got nothing on, say, Terence Fisher or even Roger Corman (two directors I would have loved to see adapt this story). Still, I was sold on the interaction between internalized Catholic guilt and the occult mythology of the Horla, an invading external possessor-entity of pure, unreasoning evil. The primary narrative/thematic threads play interestingly into the film's depiction of artistic creation, specifically in the problems of artists claiming ownership of subjects, in ways both metaphoric and literal. Above all, though, it's just an excellent example of Vincent Price's inimitably powerful screen presence.

  • Crimson Tide

    Crimson Tide

    Chamber drama masculinities.

  • Harvard Man

    Harvard Man

    This is wildly discordant on almost every level. J.S. Bach compositions provide an almost nonstop soundtrack to overzealous camera direction sliced up by split-screen, jump-cuts, flashbacks and flashforwards. Characters speak like rough-draft Kevin Williamson. Adrian Grenier sits on the edge of a bed quoting Heidegger to himself. Some kind of quasi-avant-garde college sex comedy with confused philosophical delusions. I liked it for no justifiable reason (Sarah Michelle Gellar is definitely great, though).

  • Déjà Vu

    Déjà Vu

    Tony Scott grafts visual poetry and auteurist obsessions onto often goofy and distractingly exposition-laden material.

  • The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3

    The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3

    Tony Scott's 21st century city symphony.

  • The Fan

    The Fan

    ★★★★★

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

    A brief snippet of a radio caller chat details psychosexual metaphors within the game of baseball, but the radio host's sarcastic dismissal signals Scott's playful attitude toward this kind of symbolism. The director toys with the psychosexual mostly as a reflexive exercise in genre imagery, referencing the style and language of auteurs like Hitchcock and De Palma. Consider the most obvious example, the steam room sequence, which sees De Niro puncturing a half-naked Del Toro's thigh with a knife (a…