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  • A Better Tomorrow

    A Better Tomorrow

    ★★★★½

    Took me a while to realize this is pure melodrama, and that the action sequences are manifestations, extensions of emotional turbulence. (It was the dissolve from the grave in the rain to Kit and Jackie seeing Ho soaked, outside their apartment.) The attention to bodies makes the violence a rupture; each bullet hole gapes. It's so upsetting to see these people undone, because A Better Tomorrow is otherwise shaped like a romantic melodrama and, as such, privileges contact. This is…

  • Christopher Strong

    Christopher Strong

    ★★★★

    Hepburn is dull as a lover and boundless as a pilot, beyond simply being fixed and free. Late in the film, she writes two notes. She signs her name as an autograph, for a young woman who tells her how much Cynthia Darrington means. Under her name, she adds, "courage conquers death." In the next scene, she writes a letter to her lover that she will not send. This is Arzner's form, a juxtaposition of two roles in one mod…

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  • The Birds

    The Birds

    ★★★★

    The Birds: Hitchcock’s film version of the gothic romance, where female hysteria is realized by nature and the shadowy moors of England are replaced with a bright bay of California. The suspense is there, and the performances and direction are all high-grade Hitchcock, but it drags at parts and really, Hitch probably isn’t the best guy to talk about the institutional oppression of women.

    It is a fantastic film: from the brief wolf-whistle at the very start of the film…

  • Walkabout

    Walkabout

    ★★★

    While Walkabout possesses the “languorous sexuality” and “sudden violence” Wikipedia claims to be inherent to the Australian New Wave, it might also hold the record for the most tedious use of these gratuities. By its final scene, Walkabout feels like a simplistic exercise in montage theory and landscape filmmaking, and little else. It doesn’t help that formally and narratively the film is at its best in the opening sequence: after a dissonant montage of modernity, a timid father takes his…