• House of Gucci

    House of Gucci

    ★★½

    Given Ridley’s usual predilections toward exploring institutions of power, this seems limited in scope and dull as a narrative. Tonally it slides around this weirdly liminal tone between a potentially libelous comedy and serious drama. Neither end seems particularly justified, but as a comedy of accents, acting, and needledrops – or at least as a documentary of its own making – this is reliably bozoissimo, for a while anyway. Something’s up when the assignment sinks to meet Jared Leto – “You were a comedian in a former life.”

  • Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City

    Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City

    ★★★

    Lol, where’s my Johannes Roberts hive? A little surprised I ended up on the upper end of impressions on this given his trajectory over his last two films. Taken on the whole this is messy and inelegant, but we all make a lot of allowances for roughness in horror. In some sense this is a fan service course corrective from PWSA reassembling the constitutive elements of the Resident Evil series for his own auteurism (a lore rabbit hole like Lisa…

  • Last Night in Soho

    Last Night in Soho

    ★★½

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

    Yes, this movie snaps its own neck from the moral whiplash of the final reel and is too chaste to be a successful pastiche of the genres it’s aping. But the principal narrative failure is how it mishandles the bleed between its past and present perspectives. Where’s the ambiguity for the audience to generate the tension to drive this forward? We never question how – Eloise acknowledges a ghost in the first scene – we only ask why, and that’s…

  • Don't Panic

    Don't Panic

    the kind of product that can only come from translating trends and ideas across cultures. almost completely insane in a cognitive dissonance way with one of the most brain-breaking wardrobe choices I have seen in, well, you can’t think about anything else any time you see it

  • Belladonna of Sadness

    Belladonna of Sadness

    ★★★★

    My recollection is that I heard this had some retrograde sexual politics, and that’s there if opposed by its own thematic thrusts, but I’m thinking I actually just misremembered because this thing is a full-on hemorrhage of psychedelic sex stuff ranging from weird to difficult. There is a fantasy rape sequence within the first 5 minutes and a later sexual union with a dick-looking devil (Mephistophallus?) that graphically degenerates into a pulsing Rothko and then morphs into images of contemporary…

  • The New York Ripper

    The New York Ripper

    Truly ugly. Fulci never lets you be comfortable with any of it. Its sleaze, if not violence, is universal and like the fetched hand an odious token of flesh impelled upon us. A glimmering manicure graces a tape recorder. A bizarre foot assault in a pool hall. A grotesque half-hand emerges from the darkness. A razor prows sensitive tissue like dessert. The view from inside the bottle. Unearthing the cock pipe from sheets of pornography. Just keeps degenerating and destabilizing…

  • Caprice

    Caprice

    Ah, Joanna Hogg’s actual student film and thus potentially key to The Souvenir (both parts); both are fantasy nested self-inquiries. Caprice is way more aesthetically playful than the ‘true and real’ film of her future stand-in and still true and real to Hogg’s own enchanted/critical relationship to fashion magazines. Love the way this skips through pop molds with garish artificial sets and wardrobes with the eye of an invested reader being beamed pure magazine pulp. Earliest role I’ve seen for a fresh-faced “Matilda Swinton,” who’s perfectly buoyant

  • La Llorona

    La Llorona

    ★★★

    Very much in the composition first, make the subtext text, and only use horror as an allegorical broth school of contemporary filmmaking. So it’s ghosts as historical guilt. Any way you slice this one you are going to cut into how this toes the line of dramatic investment with its perpetrators, defenders, and benefactors (to varying degrees) of genocide. Stiff construction keeps the scenes and spaces more alienated than an effective ghost horror but are part of its sympathetic distancing,…

  • The Birds

    The Birds

    ★★★★½

    A weird coincidence I listened to Karen Russell’s short story “The Ghost Birds” right after I watched this; almost a total inversion in how birds are used but probably distilled a sense of eco-revenge from the hanging mystery of the movie. Are people cooler on this Hitch? It blew me away. That the two halves don’t easily connect is part of its endurance. The nuances of this protracted meet cute and all the people bound up in it are felt…

  • Habit

    Habit

    ★★★★

    First Fessenden. A vampire story that is so lived in and attuned to the details of its characters’ down-to-earth relationships and lifestyles I would be utterly incredulous if the production design built any of these interiors whole cloth. Instructional to the rest of the film, the opening apartment party is cut into jagged ellipses to capture the drunken perspective, social vibe, and how the people aggregate within and navigate its space but also doubly muddles the movements within its corridors…

  • Midnight Mass

    Midnight Mass

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

    100% can’t work if this world knew what a vampire was.

    I was initially resistant to this in the early going – the scenes were conducted dully; that cat beach oner only had me thinking about the logistics of sea gull wrangling; all the types of people were introduced to butt heads too neatly to pat conclusions; and for most of the show the only thing you can say it educed about religion was its capacity to rationalize circumstances. I…

  • The Omen

    The Omen

    ★★★

    Gregory Peck, what’s it gonna take? The weirdest shit keeps indicating your adopted son is the antichrist, your wife has been hospitalized then murdered, and you’re already on a Mediterranean road trip with a paparazzo suddenly afraid Satan’s got his number despite you being the sitting American ambassador to England. In for a penny, well, let’s drop more pennies up until we’ve got a pound of rottweilers from hell surveilling an ancient evil graveyard with a matte backdrop. Not enough?…