Elisha has written 15 reviews for films rated ★★ .

  • Shiva Baby

    Shiva Baby

    ★★

    This plays every line and gesture so closely to the surface of the text that it becomes nearly impossible to feel anything beyond the filmmakers intent. It’s a fact that isn’t helped by the overbearing score or the occasionally overbearing filmmaking, which take center stage whenever the situation at hand has been stretched so thinly that it can only offer an inch more in the way of tension. Cassavetes is cited as an influence here, but there seems to be a…

  • Lemonade Joe

    Lemonade Joe

    ★★

    Watched with Pops. A lot of good gags early on, but it wore pretty thin once the story got established. Obviously, neither one of us cared for the long-winded blackface scene and the satire in general is pretty so-so.

  • Boat People

    Boat People

    ★★

    Was looking forward to watching an Ann Hui film and I’m pretty disappointed by this one. Flat, functional stock characters thrown to the fire of cheap melodrama and clumsy symbolism. The atmosphere is almost non-existent as well, with musical swells filling in emotions where the flow of images can’t create them. Could only have extra-textual value, and even then it feels more like an assessment of Vietnam’s framework (because that’s ultimately what accents everything here) than a full exploration of the complex human beings who live there (something that isn’t helped by the aggravatingly "noble" outsiders perspective).

  • Driveways

    Driveways

    ★★

    I was watching this, wondering why Brian Dennehy’s Del seemed so much more centered and fleshed out than its two central characters, and why the one racist white lady was over drawn and overly emphasized to the point of caricature. Then I looked up the writers, and everything began to make sense.

    I can't say there’s nothing to this film. It’s nicely shot for the most part, and its quietest moments contain some of the emotional weight it seeks to…

  • Phantom Lady

    Phantom Lady

    ★★

    Ella Raines and Elisha Cook Jr. are great in this, and their performances (aside from the fact that Franchot Tone sounds like Willem Dafoe) are what really make this film. The plot is strung together by some pretty cheap coincidences, and it lacks the indulgence in or self-awareness of those coincidences to remain in the realm of investment for me. The bleak atmosphere of the soundstage doesn’t quite work in tandem with the bleak imagery so much as it undermines…

  • Sólo con tu pareja

    Sólo con tu pareja

    ★★

    Today I was re-listening to Alfonso Cuarón’s BAFTA lecture. In it, he mentions how it took him a long time to understand the unique mysteries and qualities of cinema beyond that of just capturing drama with photography. With that, I decided to visit his first film, Solo Con Tu Pareja, just to see what he was talking about in terms of how far he’s come. 

    This is a solid debut with a few good laughs and an ending that pushes…

  • The Texas Chain Saw Massacre

    The Texas Chain Saw Massacre

    ★★

    Sally was getting her shit remixed in that forest. Her character ran and tripped so that future white women in trouble could also run (and trip, inevitably). The opening 5 minutes and the closing 25 are where it’s at in my opinion—including that Charlie Chaplin-esque chase sequence on the main road at the end. The rest is coverage-crazy direction with too many gratuitous booty shots and four too many pointless characters in the mix for my taste. I’ll say that…

  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

    One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

    ★★

    It’s actually astounding how incredibly pro-establishment this “anti-establishment” film is. There’s nothing revolutionary about the most well equipped white guys in an institution mounting insurrection against a few women and a couple of black guys doing their jobs. There’s even less revolutionary credibility when the white guy leading those white guys is an unrepentant pedophile who, rather than getting the electric chair, gets to spend the entire movie preaching to the mentally disabled while essentially trying out their lifestyle as…

  • Fragile as the World

    Fragile as the World

    ★★

    After I die and my body is a rotting corpse
    On will go the garden,
    the sea and the sky
    And their dance will continue,
    just like today
    Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall at my doors.
    Others in April will walk by the orchard
    Where I walked by
    on so many occasions
    There will be long sunsets over the oceans
    And others will love the things I adored.
    It will be the same light, the same jests,
    It will be…

  • Polytechnique

    Polytechnique

    ★★

    On one end, I want to say that the depiction of the violence here feels gratuitous. On the other hand, if indeed it is accurate in the facts (re: not the depiction) of its retelling, does that necessitate it’s retelling?  If one makes a movie about pedophiles, should we show the act in question, dramatizing it and mining it for suspense? Or should we only do our best to make it understood in order to push further with something that…

  • The Lovers

    The Lovers

    ★★

    A lot of this films most impactful emotional content is trapped inside of its narration. As a result, the story we see, as well as the way it’s presented, feel emotionally stunted and removed. It’s not until the film becomes physical that some semblance of emotion takes over, but nothing within this films structure makes us anticipate it or even makes us want it once we do get it. It feels like Louis Malle (25 years old during this films…

  • Beach Rats

    Beach Rats

    ★★

    This film isn’t...terrible? It just doesn’t manage to get under the skin to me. The close-ups illuminate little in my imagination. It doesn’t have the same force of perspective and mystique that It Felt Like Love has. It all just kind of happened and ended, but never seemed to climax. There are good sequences here and there, but yeah. Still super excited to see Never Rarely Sometimes Always because I love Eliza Hittman. 

    Also, I will never step foot in New Jersey. Ever.