• Throw Down

    Throw Down

    ★★★★

    I’ll be Sanshiro Sugata and you’ll be Higaki.

    Johnny To seems to be a reliable purveyor of action plus something else. Action plus a meditation on the energy transferring properties of Judo. Action plus a dedication to Akira Kurosawa and his debut Judo Saga: Sanshiro Sugata. Action plus, after the director’s name is given, a Gillette ad, then roll the credits. Action plus a little something else, an awareness of cinema and it’s transmutable essence wherein action doesn’t have to…

  • The Gentlemen

    The Gentlemen

    ★★½

    In France it’s illegal to call a pig Napoleon but try to stop me

    I gave it a sufficient effort not to care. Not to engage with Guy Ritchie, working now as he was in the halcyon years of his career. Easy to avoid; easy to ignore. Curiosity has finely got the best of me. And it’s turned out sufficiently watchable and not a lot more. Guy Ritchie doing an impression of himself directing old movies is almost as good…

  • Louis Riel for Dinner

    Louis Riel for Dinner

    ★★★½

    Strangest thing I’m likely to file under “Dad watch” for a while.

  • The Danish Poet

    The Danish Poet

    ★★★

    Ezra just discovered short films and is amazed they exist.

  • Detroit

    Detroit

    ★★½

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    Kathryn Bigelow turns from modern military stories to the militarization of the police in a shocking abuse of power in our criminal justice system.

    When Detroit settles into a groove, having shakily established its sense of place while cutting but not committing to any characters,…

  • Cops vs. Thugs

    Cops vs. Thugs

    ★★★

    Kinji Fukasaku loves to fill the frame with people. Not out of any apparent love for people or collectivism, but as a means to keep the characters as busy as he can. Exposition? Needs at least a dozen people. Fight scene? Why not more. It’s fun, that way, in its somewhat unfocused and brawling nature, at least living up to the merit of the title, but not quite an action classic by its own merits.

    My dear friend Ben is…

  • Riverdance: The Animated Adventure

    Riverdance: The Animated Adventure

    Don’t let the Riverdance get you!

  • Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie's Island Adventure

    Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie's Island Adventure

    Better to watch this in January than to break the Christmas spirit. I had to stop myself from actually scowling at the movie a few times. It’s just that kind of awful. A real chunk of coal. Real Holiday horse shit. Even watching friends couldn’t help. Nothing could.

  • Ponyo

    Ponyo

    ★★★★

    Dear Ezra,

    The way you learn is special. You will never show us you know how to do something until you’ve got it down. When we found out you could walk, you could already do it perfectly. You held out on us because you didn’t want us to experience any failure to stand. You want so badly for us to see you as you see yourself: as someone who knew how to walk, who knew how to draw and paint,…

  • Boiling Point

    Boiling Point

    ★★★

    Not every film benefits from a one shot concept. For most, it would be better to have simple and clean direction with more prescribed sequences. That’s the case for Boiling Point, which uses it’s one shot to embed the viewer in the bickering hassle and high stress environment of a kitchen that is collapsing along with the chef’s well-being. It does a sturdy enough job anyway, chasing his downfall in parallel to the kitchen. It’s never quite bracing or involving,…

  • Zero Dark Thirty

    Zero Dark Thirty

    ★★★

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    Bolstered by a strong supporting cast of who’s who in modern television, Jessica Chastain centers the film as a composite of multiple women, in a film that reflects that modern intelligence is often run by women.

    There’s no good or right way to make Zero…

  • The Hurt Locker

    The Hurt Locker

    ★★★½

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    The Hurt Locker concerns the opiatic effects of war on its combatants. Either they come away from war destitute and desensitized or totally addicted to the action. It’s fairly good at building this all up, it’s bomb diffusion scenes rather thrilling and it’s 16mm scruff…