• The French Dispatch

    The French Dispatch

    ★★★★★

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

    100

    Gosh, this is about as good as it gets, isn't it? Wes Anderson, around the making of The Darjeeling Limited, maybe even before that with Life Aquatic, began to dive into the haunted rooms and melancholy nostalgia of his own fussy dollhouse aesthetic. His early films functioned as messy mannered displays of human absurdity, often chiseled with a quick line or grace note, the creative flower that allowed everything else to bloom into meaning. Gut punches like "I've had…

  • Dune

    Dune

    ★★★★

    80

    What's most remarkable about Denis Villeneuve's Dune, at least on first pass, is the scale. Gargantuan aircraft and structures often create an ant-like perspective of the world we're so effortlessly immersed in. The cast of characters introduced are almost consistently against the trials and specificities of nature, even as they attempt to exploit and overpower it. Denis Villeneuve and DP Greig Fraser make sure to develop the universe, in terms of both design and geopolitics, as if we're never…

  • Ham on Rye

    Ham on Rye

    ★★★½

    65

    What's immediately delightful about Ham on Rye is the ghostly sense of escalation. Beginning as an examination of rites of passage, neighborhood malaise, the loss of adolescence, it soon develops into a textured portrait of the suburbs as a transitory space, where teenage posturing and the act of 'finding yourself' takes on a quality of reckoning with the disappointment of the world as a whole, where every action and decision is a mere basis for emerging from a stifling…

  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

    Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

    ★★★★

    73

    Still excellent. Not sure who decided to hire Bruno Delbonnel as DP but it was a Galaxy-brain maneuver. Chilly, near monochromatic images, desolate browns and greens in contrast to a golden-hued warmth that is just so fucking cozy. Most of this movie is Harry, Ron, and Hermione struggling with romance, and it's delightful.

    "Snape! Snape! He *trusted* you!" is such a killer line read from Daniel Radcliffe too. When David Yates does eventually decide to fall into the book's perpetual void of tragedy and inevitable demise, it's quite good. Really enjoy this one, although Azkaban is still leagues ahead.

  • Halloween Kills

    Halloween Kills

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

    15

    Somewhere around the forty minute mark of Halloween Kills, I simply gave up trying to wrap my mind around what David Gordon Green and team were attempting with this trainwreck. Underneath the barrage of absurdly gory kills and tacked-on mythology revisions, it's clear that this middle entry has no idea what to do or where to go. Almost entirely unnecessary. If anything, this sequel needed to be tightened, all killer and no filler, but it's a mess of a…

  • Lamb

    Lamb

    ★★

    40

    Didn't hate Lamb by any means but it's barely anything at all. Once you're past the concept, this is a tattered string of art-house conventions and absurdist misery, so you'll find out pretty quick if the film works for you or not. Pointless chapter structure, droning pacing, subdued performances, etc. All in service to an underdeveloped narrative and half-baked dramatic tension. This is probably the first time I've empathized with A24 for attempting to market a film of theirs, because there's not a lot going on here. The titular lamb is adorable and I wish she was in a better movie.

  • The Exorcist

    The Exorcist

    ★★★★★

    100

    Watch any clip of The Exorcist on YouTube and you'll find comments debating whether the movie itself is still scary or not. Aside from the obvious point that horror is about the most subjective genre out there besides comedy, I think it's particularly funny that people are finding this to be a worthy discussion, especially with scenes taken out of context. If you put The Exorcist on late at night, as I just did, with the sound cranked up,…

  • No Time to Die

    No Time to Die

    ★★★★½

    85

    With No Time to Die, we reach the end of Daniel Craig's tenure as James Bond, and with it, oddly enough, the arrival of his first stock and trade 'Bond' movie. Snappy banter, exotic locales, dashing agents, vague supervillains and evocative super-lairs, it's a burger with everything on it, the works. Plenty of those standard tropes have popped up in previous Craig-era entries, but here it's rejuvenated and laid out on a silver platter. This is a feast for…

  • The Thing

    The Thing

    ★★★★★

    100

    "First goddamn week of winter..."

    Repeat viewings of The Thing do little in convincing anyone of a particular theory. Whenever I re-watch, I walk away with a new clue or line that emphasizes the current state of the ensemble, who could be the titular thing, who isn't etc. Bill Lancaster's script smartly evades any clear-cut answers, and the apocalyptic ending is merely another question, a small patch of warmth lingering in the cold. But as I return again and…

  • House of Wax

    House of Wax

    ★★★★

    75

    A striking combo: Jaume Collet-Serra's meticulous build-up of vicious slasher set-pieces and crowdpleaser jolts, and an ensemble cast that is about as dumb as a bag of rocks. What if the Scooby gang was utterly incompetent? If you're looking to dive into the grimy world of 2000s horror remakes, this is one of the best. Gorgeous production design and a relentless quality to its revisionist brand of terror.

  • Repo! The Genetic Opera

    Repo! The Genetic Opera

    ★★★½

    65

    There are plenty of wacky moments and gothic tunes in this horror dystopia musical, but nothing is as delightful as Paul Sorvino playing a pivotal supporting role. Zydrate comes in a little glass vial...

  • Titane

    Titane

    ★★★★½

    87

    Festival hype had me prepared for a shocker, but even when Titane revels in provocation and ultraviolence, rolling and dancing and fucking in motor oil, what lingers is its capacity for kindness and restraint. Within the context of a grisly midnight movie premise, Julia Ducournau allows for a sweetness to initially find its way in on the fringes of the frame before consuming the film entirely. As an examination of bodily frustration, metal and flesh, sex and bloodshed, it's…