Elisha has written 32 reviews for films rated ★★½ .

  • Last Year at Marienbad

    Last Year at Marienbad

    ★★½

    Sort of operates as the inverse of Hiroshima Mon Amour, with the characters and their inner lives operating in service of the form rather than vice versa. As a work of surrealism I think it misses the mark in this regard. Renais’ dream world is an invention so isolated and so impersonal that it neither disrupts nor illuminates anything in the realm of identifiable reality. This is probably my main gripe, as I feel a meditation on subjects as desire-driven…

  • The Spook Who Sat by the Door

    The Spook Who Sat by the Door

    ★★½

    I’m remembering Angela Davis asking herself whether or not the Black Power movement had more to do with the total liberation of Black people or the sole liberation of the Black man. The Spook Who Sat by the Door most definitely falls into the latter camp, and as a film that stands solely on its political legs, falls rather flat for it.

    Dixon attempts to liberate his characters from the weighted stereotypes of Blaxploitation while also operating within its framework…

  • Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures

    Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures

    ★★½

    This film is a lie, but it does have some merit.

    Perhaps no myth has been more dangerous to young directors—or for that matter, film sets around the world—than the idea that Stanley Kubrick exerted a god-like control over every aspect of the creative process. Thankfully this film dispels that myth (itself a fundamental misunderstanding of creativity) and provides us with a look into the amount of intuition and trust that actually made Kubrick’s films come alive. It also features…

  • Central Station

    Central Station

    ★★½

    I found this painfully by-the-numbers in both content and form, with a lot of cheap emotional beats and conveniences that seemed to service the plot a lot more than the characters. The characters themselves never sink beneath their archetypes, remaining oddly soulless to me in spite of all their carefully placed tears. The ending has some potency to it, but spoils things by over indulging itself for the sake of the big moment (by doing so, missing it’s big moment). Ultimately let down by this one, but I didn’t hate it completely.

  • Mangrove

    Mangrove

    ★★½

    First thing: check out danne’s review, liked bellow (this site really needs an @ button), as it highlights a few reviews on this film from Black critics!! 

    SPOILERS:

    As for me, I felt the direction here was a bit more pedestrian than the two features I’ve seen from McQueen. I know this isn’t Hunger, but I was expecting a story built upon the spirit of revolution to reflect that internal, transformative power in its form (you know, like Hunger). I…

  • King of New York

    King of New York

    ★★½

    My first Abel Ferrara film is supposedly one of his best.

    It’s pretty lukewarm in both its critique of capitalism and its dramatization, or lack thereof, of that critique. The screenplay has a tendency to orate through its characters, and this need to make things clear speaks to the underlying feelings of insecurity and powerlessness that color a lot of this film’s biggest power plays. I enjoy its ending. The city that Frank seeks to heal turns itself in on…

  • Images

    Images

    ★★½

    The first act of this film is laden with the seeds of distrust and intrigue inherent in Cathryn's mind. Each macro and micro element, from the voices on the phone to the pair of black gloves that Hugh enters the house wearing, raise an unsettling ambiguity around their relationship to Cathryn—and thus, Cathryn's relationship to her environment. Altman's direction is tight, finding Cathryn's illusions within the physical business of the scene, allowing quiet images and gentle objects to transport us…

  • Bad Day at Black Rock

    Bad Day at Black Rock

    ★★½

    Watched this twice just make sure I wasn’t missing anything. Enjoyed it more the second time around, but not by much.

    There’s absolutely no tension here once it becomes obvious that these men want to kill each other. A lot of the interesting narrative turns are given over to the dialogue, and the plot post-mystery mainly consists of men puffing their chests out at each other with a self-seriousness that’s unintentionally comedic. Cinemascope is used to little advantage here as…

  • Alice

    Alice

    ★★½

    Second Švankmajer. The first was Faust (which you can find with the link in that review). 

    Faust featured, at its core, a compelling twist on an old story, heightened by Švankmajer’s magnificent craftsmanship and his ability to create smaller stories and inventive gateways within every frame. It had that special blend of feeling like both a dream and an adventure at once, with an equally compelling central character and premise. Alice falls short to me, perhaps, because of its sole fealty…

  • Columbus

    Columbus

    ★★½

    My 366th film of the year! 🎉🎉🎉

    So much of the meditative potential here is soiled by the film’s oratory dialogue. Ideas, emotions, and histories stumble their way out of our characters mouths more often that they do onto the screen, and for this it feels as if Kogonada doesn’t trust his audience to possess the art for themselves. Beneath the weight of all his cinematic expertise, the film inside feels suffocated. Too mannered to breathe until the very end.…

  • Walkabout

    Walkabout

    ★★½

    An aggravatingly intellectual exercise. I much prefer Bill Gunn’s more sensual experimental editing style to Roeg’s, which feels like a man constantly distancing me from the film through visual prowess and by flexing his ability to make thematic connections using the cut. Because of this, the photography feels individually stunning, but it rarely ever coalesces into something that moves me. I do find credibility in Roger Ebert’s analysis of the film’s true intent being an exploration of the tragic consequence that comes…

  • Lola Montès

    Lola Montès

    ★★½

    For starters, this film is gorgeous. It’s costumes, set design, and cinematography (particularly its use of color) are all the pinnacle of decadence. It begins with all of these things on full display, and offers an interesting framing device through which we’ll explore the scandalous life of Lola Montès—a woman of high society turned circus performer in a circus centered around that very same life.


    It’s a fantastic casing for what ultimately ends up being a pretty hollow emotional experience.…