Elisha has written 32 reviews for films rated ★★★ during 2020.

  • When We Were Kings

    When We Were Kings

    ★★★

    I have wrassled with a alligator
    I done tussled with a whale
    I done handcuffed lightnin’
    Throwed thunder in jail
    That’s bad!
    Only last week, I murdered a rock!
    Injured a stone 
    Hospitalized a brick
    I’m so mean I make medicine sick!

    Damn I love and miss this man. I was having an incredibly rough night, so I settled on Leon Gast’s 1996 documentary When We Were Kings to cheer myself up by revisiting the life of Muhammad Ali.

    All…

  • Lady Snowblood

    Lady Snowblood

    ★★★

    Ultimately left me pretty cold, but it was just...really fucking cool? I guess I see in this what other people see in Suspiria. There’s an undeniably awesome usage of color, a proclivity for comic book body compositions, and a story in full embrace of its pulpiness to keep everything going. I think there’s a message in here about westernization (or maybe war and vengeance itself) leading to the eventual downfall of Japan. Particularly in the second to last scene—with guns, swords,…

  • Bush Mama

    Bush Mama

    ★★★

    About to watch again.

  • Drylongso

    Drylongso

    ★★★

    Not a spoiler-heavy review, but you may want to check out the film here first. It’s worth it!

    Ahhh yet another Black independent film debut! This one comes from multimedia artist and filmmaker Cauleen Smith (check out some of her incredible studio installations here).

    The first thing that strikes me about this film is its penchant for love. Not solely romantic love—although it is present in all of its tenderness and playfulness—but ultimately, the love and healing power of creativity, friendship,…

  • Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key

    Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key

    ★★★

    Burned my brain out and didn’t feel like contending with a known masterpiece, so I turned this on without peeping the rating or even the synopsis. It’s my first "giallo" film (in quotes because I just learned that word), and it’s pretty entertaining stuff. Good suspense with a simple premise in each instance: will she make it through this dark corridor? Lays the music on a bit heavy, but that’s part of the charm. Also has that dynamic handheld camerawork…

  • His House

    His House

    ★★★

    SPOILERS:

    Ahh it’s a beautiful year for Black film debuts! Merawai Gerima’s Residue, Radha Blank’s The 40 Year Old Version, and now, to my attention, Remi Weekes’ His House.

    “The man who has stolen in order never to thieve again remains a thief.”
    -Andrei Tarkovsky

    This is a film about sacrifices. One that haunts with the promise of its supernatural sacrifices, but is ultimately defined by its spiritual and cultural ones, within and beyond it’s scope. A blonde-haired, blue-eyed baby…

  • Stray Dogs

    Stray Dogs

    ★★★

    I think it’s suffice to say I enjoyed this much more than I connected with it.

    The alienating factor not being the pacing or the circumstances of the characters, but really just one particular scene. When Lee Kang-sheng’s 'Father' is finally seen in close-up on the street, in the cold, crying and hustling for change against his own dignity and humanity, I was crying with him. The film had done such a beautiful job of immersing me in the sights,…

  • The Executioner

    The Executioner

    ★★★

    SPOILERS:

    First Berlanga film. I found many parts of this outright hilarious, and overall I think it’s a decent film with sharp writing. I did feel that the films movement from scene to scene (despite the great one takes within each scene) was a bit too lifeless, and even its abruptness in jumping through time lacked the contrast or kinetic energy needed to keep me deeply invested. But, that scene towards the end? As he’s getting dragged to the garrote?…

  • Ariel

    Ariel

    ★★★

    Not quite as developed or well-rounded in its humanity as Shadows in Paradise, but still a good time filled with enough laughs and visual comedy to remain entertaining throughout. Today’s been nothing but dark comedies and Robert Crumb comics, so this fit right in with everything. Oh, and enjoy this hilarious and tender video of Kaurismäki expressing his love to a picture of Ozu as only Kaurismäki can:

    Aki Kaurismäki on Ozu

  • Phantom of the Paradise

    Phantom of the Paradise

    ★★★

    It’s a good time. Laughs and parts of the horror are a bit outdated, but it’s entertaining enough thanks to its visual appeal and story influences to keep things going. Almost feels like a very long short film thanks to all of the insanity, which I liked. Most importantly, I got excited every time Paul Williams spoke because I could tell that he was the voice of The Penguin on Batman: The Animated Series.

  • Naked

    Naked

    ★★★

    Taking into account the time and place this film was made in, I can appreciate what it did and imagine what a surprise it was to the international film circuit at the time. I also appreciate how unironic it is, refusing to make examples or lessons out of its characters by simply forcing the audience to bare witness to their lives. But personally, I didn’t find this raw or realistic or any of the other adjectives it’s often associated with.…

  • Living in Oblivion

    Living in Oblivion

    ★★★

    "Y’know the only reason I took a part in this movie is because someone said that you were tight with Quentin Tarantino."

    I had the slightest bit of anxiety while watching this, but it’s a good time. Part two gave me a lot of the best laughs, and it’s a genuine look at how faith in yourself, your collaborators and the material is the only way forward. I also think it’s telling that the last scene they have to make work is a dream.

    FUN FACT: Brad Pitt was originally slated to play Chad Palomino. Just imagine him saying the line above lmfao.