James Westbrook

James Westbrook

Pro

All those monkeys writing Shakespeare lost interest and started reviewing movies instead.

Favorite films

  • Ganja & Hess
  • Taste of Cherry
  • Under the Skin
  • Apocalypse Now

Recent activity

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  • Volver

    ★★★★½

  • Final Destination 3

    ★★★½

  • The Fog

    ★★★½

  • The Skin I Live In

    ★★★½

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  • Paris, Texas

    Paris, Texas

    ★★★★★

    The America of Paris, Texas is an America of horizons. Grass-flecked deserts that go on for miles, hills that crest and recede far past where we can see them, and sunsets that sweep across everything in sight, the earth descending into twilight blue as the sky dances in hues of gold and purple. Even when Travis Henderson sits on the hill top of his brother's swanky L.A. home the city lights below him stretch for so far, glitter and blink…

  • Nomadland

    Nomadland

    ★★½

    As if independent film's lingering obsession with Malick fucked a Vox explainer on the ripple effects of the '08 housing crash. It's at its best when it embraces the oral tradition and lets Real People tell their stories in warmly lit wide-angle close-ups, but it's telling that those moments come and go in bite-sized snippets that are largely window dressing for Nomadland's real obsession: watching Francis McDormand perform poverty against self-consciously-beautiful Western backdrops. There's an argument to be made that…

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  • Volver

    Volver

    ★★★★½

    More than once the characters in Volver dish on "trash TV", how awful it is yet how incapable they are of looking away from it once it's on, but Volver itself is no post-modern dissection of soap opera contrivance. It is neither a farcical send-up nor a string-swelled drama but something in between, a carefully modulated series of character studies spoken in the language of melodrama. Volver has alleged ghosts, incest, off-screen sexual assaults, cancer, and corpse disposal, but each…

  • Final Destination 3

    Final Destination 3

    ★★★½

    The platonic ideal of Final Destination's death-is-everywhere paranoia melded to a pretty solid iteration of its blood-and-guts showmanship. Plot wise this is exactly the same as the first two (and, if I had to guess, the last two, too), though same variations of tone and technique whittle the formula into a knife point. There's a heightened use of cut aways that isolate and draw our attention to the environmental dangers that lurk around every corner, those innocent everyday objects the…

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  • The Fog

    The Fog

    ★★★½

    When it's just rolling neon fog, or small town architecture at night glowing under ominously-underpowered street lights, or eerily still human shapes barely visible in that low cloud of otherworldly droplets, the vibes are just perfect, the turn-of-the-80s atmosphere so thick it could take down power lines. When it has to do something with that atmosphere it's less likely to keep you up at night; there's an extended daytime second act that bogs things down in back story that isn't…