• Long Day's Journey Into Night

    Long Day's Journey Into Night


    wrong ideas are the stuff of life

    few films emulate a dream well enough to earn descriptors of the surreal, hypnotic, hypnagogic, or indeed the dreamlike, yet what this does goes so far beyond sustaining illusion; what it really does is make all those descriptors instantly redundant. not unusual for me to be left wanting to melt into a similar film’s atmosphere, but bi gan’s are the first to actually give me that freedom, to allow me to slip into its slumber and let the current take me, to dream its dream alongside it. he can make you feel it all, experience anything.

  • Cruising



    Mostly inert as an undercover cop mystery and serial killer procedural, and I’m afraid it only fares a little better as a psychological character study. It’s certainly an interesting one but unnecessarily muddled by Friedkin’s reckless and also frankly meaningless attempts at ambiguity. But aesthetically? As far as creating a world out of mood and atmosphere goes this is excellent, dangerous, problematic filmmaking that probably beckons for a better handle on the script.

  • Buddha Mountain

    Buddha Mountain


    Some may disagree but to me the obvious analog is Hu Bo's singular masterpiece An Elephant Sitting Still, but in spite of its reputation, that film actually moves through quite a lot of plot, whereas by contrast Li Yu's Buddha Mountain doesn't really go anywhere in its first half, nor is it productively about anything until the midway point. Looking past superficial similarities, the two films succeed in thematizing concepts through sheer mood rather than narrative, offering rootless vibes that…

  • Comedy Queen

    Comedy Queen


    Bergman's got nothing on this!

  • Leave No Traces

    Leave No Traces


    Although I'm getting especially tired of contemporary European cinema lamenting the days of communist occupation and/or government, there does appear to be some fuel left in that tank, and honestly the bleaker the better at this point. Leave No Traces is one of the most despondent of its relatively mainstream kind, at least until fairly late on—but it's also frankly exhausting at this length—with little in the way of tangible sentiment beyond hopeless outrage against the brutal systemic violence and injustices of 1980s Poland.


  • The Bohemian

    The Bohemian


    I dunno, baseless period dramas loosely tethered to the interior life of a musical genius from central Europe usually make for better biopics than your standard "prestige slop" but every generation can't have its Waltzes from Vienna, I guess.


  • Farewell My Concubine

    Farewell My Concubine


    [Watched the Uncut version]

    This week two films entered my top twenty first watches of the year, and in many ways couldn't be further from each other, but I realized they aren't actually too dissimilar in that they both span decades exploring the changes modern China has gone through; Ash is Purest White extended itself to seventeen years, whereas Farewell My Concubine retells nearly forty years of history, another spectacular example of an epic in miniature.

    Perhaps the only criticism…

  • Fallen Leaves

    Fallen Leaves


    The Dead Don't Die, they won't, or they can't. And who are the dead but the working class, the proletariat, the only true romantics among us all. This is my first Kaurismäki, and based off the theatrical experience I had it will be the first of many. If not one of the best romances or comedies of the decade thus far, certainly the most deceptively "nice" movie I've seen in a long time.


  • Election



    Only fitting that after nearly ten years of making triad movies about the infantry of the apparatus as well as the cops hunting them, both caught in the crossfire of assassinations, gang wars, and triad infighting, that Johnnie To would interrogate its pseudo-democratic traditions, the corrupting influence of power at its very head, and the unique form of violence that it brings.

    Johnnie To | Yau Nai-hoi | Hong Kong

  • Ash Is Purest White

    Ash Is Purest White


    Almost an ecological travelogue through a China in a state of constant flux, upheaval, and modernization enfolding before the eyes of a woman as she navigates an ever-changing world, a universe so vast that we are simultaneously both freed and imprisoned by its expanses.


  • Soviet Milk

    Soviet Milk


    About as bleak and depressing as one could expect given the piece of Latvian history that’s being retold here, but in spite of scenic locations this doesn’t really do itself justice, the actual filmmaking is quite uninspired and with a screenplay that leans into maudlin nationalism more than the characters themselves I didn't find it nearly as affecting as I was hoping.


  • Beasts Clawing at Straws

    Beasts Clawing at Straws


    A sprawling mess of interconnected characters and storylines that embellishes each one quite fairly—to a fault. In an attempt to tie a bow on the whole affair this not only runs out of steam but also makes an unnecessary logical reach when all is about to end well, just to give you a like-for-like conclusion fifteen minutes later. Up until this point it's more than adequate as a thriller, positing the question of how long you can keep this sort of narrative going before and without crashing, but it certainly isn't as funny or memorable as the styles it's evoking.

    South Korea | 2020