Chris has written 9 reviews for films rated ★★★★½ during 2020.

  • Thief

    Thief

    ★★★★½

    I still can't believe how much confidence emanates from this considering it was Mann's film debut. I'd argue he is in a tiny minority of directors who are able to successfully explore the same ideas throughout their careers, always managing to recontextualise them to perfectly fit the story at hand. James Caan's Frank is possibly his most unrestrained lead character, someone who absolutely refuses to compromise his belief system even if it means he has to burn down everything he…

  • Blackhat

    Blackhat

    ★★★★½

    Still outstanding. It feels like the natural conclusion to Michael Mann's digital era.

    Blackhat mixes the lyrical expressionism of his later work with the thematic elements that he has been playing with throughout his entire career. All of it converges around this cybercrime thriller about the terrifying and disorientating ubiquity of technology. The system which so many of Mann's characters have fought against is now so large and abstract in the landscape of global capitalism that success is almost impossible.…

  • The Lone Ranger

    The Lone Ranger

    ★★★★½

    One of the best blockbusters of the 2010s.

    A fiercely audacious, visually stunning and fervently strange adventure flick from Gore Verbinski which pays homage to and deconstructs the myths of the Old West. The influences range from the Westerns of Sergio Leone and John Ford to the intricate physical comedy of Buster Keaton. The critiques of Manifest Destiny and the corrupting impact of capitalism are surprisingly poignant, providing a sense of melancholy that lingers throughout. The framing device is effectively…

  • Double Indemnity

    Double Indemnity

    ★★★★½

    An essential Noir from Billy Wilder that manages to deftly weave all of the tropes throughout its superbly constructed plot. What really impresses me about Double Indemnity (as well as a lot of Wilder's more serious work) is how it never loses its playful tone despite its dark thematic focus on morality and the ever-increasing sense of tension. The striking black & white photography and urgent score are balanced out by the droll narration and the sharp banter between the two…

  • The Wailing

    The Wailing

    ★★★★½

    I can't recall many modern horror films that successfully balance as many styles and ideas as The Wailing. It is equal parts police procedural, foreboding mystery, supernatural thriller, ghost story and heart-rendering human drama. Thematic elements that deal with belief systems, xenophobia and fear of the unknown are worked into the story seamlessly.

    Director Na Hong-jin manages to make all of these converging ideas work by creating a world full of interesting characters and giving the film an emotional core…

  • Vertigo

    Vertigo

    ★★★★½

    Vertigo is quite possibly Hitchcock's darkest film. Simultaneously an eerie mystery and a haunting tale of obsession, it is a bleak story that at its core is about a man who falls in love with his own romantic delusion. Hitchcock is able to create the perfect dreamlike atmosphere with measured investigative scenes, vivid use of colour, a visually striking nightmare sequence and Bernard Herrmann's magnificent swirling score. James Stewart is engaging with a performance against type and Kim Novak handles…

  • Rear Window

    Rear Window

    ★★★★½

    Rear Window is Hitchcock at his most playful. His visual storytelling is excellent as he conveys a great deal about the characters solely through imagery, while the commentary on voyerism and morality are cleverly weaved into the plot. The idea of discovering a neighbour's dark secret is relatable and it is perfect casting to have the quintessential everyman James Stewart in the lead, where he is aided by the effortlessly sophistocated Grace Kelly and the quick-witted Thelma Ritter.

    As usual…

  • Parasite

    Parasite

    ★★★★½

    Parasite is one of the few recent films where the hype was justified. As someone who has found Bong Joon-ho's filmography inconsistent it is satisfying to see him produce something excellent, a film where his penchant for eccentric characters and tonal shifts are paired with a brilliantly tight storyline. It is a fascinating portrayal of economic inequality and how broken the class system is, shown with the Park's exploitative behaviour and the Kim's manipulative. Both capable of bad acts in…

  • Come and See

    Come and See

    ★★★★½

    Surely one of the most effective anti-war films ever made. A bleak, disturbing, at times surreal display of the worst of humanity and the destruction of youthful innocence that plays out like nightmare packed with haunting images of atrocity.