• The Big Night

    The Big Night

    ★★★½

    A strong and briskly paced pre-exile Losey noir. It’s a rather simple premise, it focuses on a bullied and sensitive teenager (played with remarkable sensitivity by John Barrymore) who after witnessing a public beating given to his father at his bar (who doesn’t fight back or reveal any information on the nature of this assault) grabs a gun and goes out in a frenzied state into the night with the intent on committing violence on the perpetrator of the beating.…

  • Bad Boys II

    Bad Boys II

    ★★★

    It’s rather strange as I didn’t like the first Bad Boys film, this is that but dumber, longer, louder, bigger, and more expensive. It doubles down on all those elements defining the first film, but I found this very enjoyable. It feels like a mulligan perhaps as the execution this time around feels a lot stronger and certainly more memorable. It’s one of Bay’s better films, though I don’t exactly understand the hatred he seems to receive, I’ve never been…

  • Extraction

    Extraction

    ★★★½

    The movie ultimately did its job and successfully served as an EXTRACTION from my day to day worries and feelings. However, it was not an EXTRACTION without base frustrations that are common to my movie-watching experiences. One of them which I frequently rail against and complain about in modern thrillers and action movies is an addition of extra conflict in scenarios that have plenty of conflict inherent in the structure. It really undermines fine thrillers and action movies limiting their…

  • The Boston Strangler

    The Boston Strangler

    ★★★★★

    Richard Fleischer’s The Boston Strangler on rewatch is highly rewarding and improving upon my first experience with the film (which was already positive). It’s one of the most fascinating and disturbing deconstructions on the notions and causes of violence (from the point of view of a specific society and the individual) I’ve ever seen. It's very much a clear and brilliant successor to Fritz Lang’s M. So much of this is done in a cinematic style that’s so inventive and…

  • Fengming: A Chinese Memoir

    Fengming: A Chinese Memoir

    ★★★★★

    It’s a pretty overwhelming film too take in on first viewing (like West of the Tracks is). I’ve always wondered if perhaps I’m overwhelming myself a bit with the way I might be viewing a film, perhaps because the structure and general aesthetic could appear to be remarkably simple (it’s ultimately not, instead I would use the word careful), but its idea really is something cinema has always strived to do (it’s always a great sign when I wonder if…

  • Trapped

    Trapped

    ★★★

    A quick and interesting early Fleischer film noir, like Anthony Mann’s 1947 film T-Men it deals with the procedure of agents working for the Department of Treasury, particularly the undercover infiltration of criminal counterfeiting rings. What’s striking is both of them utilize documentary stylings throughout the film, ultimately Mann’s film is more effective in this use for a few interesting reasons. Mann stays committed to this style of documentary/newsreel voice-over throughout the film, and it adds special effects to the…

  • Viva Las Vegas

    Viva Las Vegas

    ★★★½

    A superior film to Blue Hawaii that while having a great deal of the same qualities I enjoyed about the film actually creates something unique at moments that transcend simple star appeal. Much of this comes from the chemistry between Presley and Ann Margret who are great together, as well as having fine musical solo numbers of their own. The titular song is great and plays particularly well over a fantastic titles sequence that vividly brings you into the striking…

  • Blue Hawaii

    Blue Hawaii

    ★★★

    It’s so clearly a cash-in on the stardom of Elvis Presley. The musical segments go in and out with little effort or aim at continuity, and the structure is a series of vacation style mishaps that aren’t unlike director Norman Taurog’s other early 60s youth party movie Palm Springs Weekend (coincidentally I didn’t find out Taurog directed that movie until after I watched this film last night, but I detect we might have a hidden auteur, I’ll need to see…

  • The Flowers of St. Francis

    The Flowers of St. Francis

    ★★★★★

    I originally intended to watch Rossellini’s last film The Messiah, about Jesus Christ, but alas it isn’t streaming anywhere so I watched his perfect The Flowers of St. Francis, a film that couldn’t have been better selected for viewing for Easter. This is my favorite of Rossellini’s films I’ve seen so far. It’s so alive, wonderful and generous. t’s structure and aesthetic do wonder to the philosophy and life of the titular saint. It’s captured in a series of vignettes,…

  • Rio Lobo

    Rio Lobo

    ★★★½

    “Hey, what are you so happy about Colonel?”
    “Well I’ve had about the right number of drinks, and I am warm, and I’m relaxed. Well if you gentle people can manage without me, I shall go to sleep.”

    The above excerpt from a conversation in the movie reveals the general warmth and comfort Hawks’ final film has. It has flaws that are readily apparent, from some rather stiff and bland acting from two of the main stars, and a welcome…

  • Murder Mystery

    Murder Mystery

    ★★★

    This solid, and appropriate viewing for a family. Despite some painfully unfunny scenes (including the bedroom fiasco of two supporting characters), it’s consistently quite funny, and benefits from two seasoned leads who generate quite a lot of fun, with a laid back vacation take on the title premise of the movie. The rapport between Sandler and Aniston is genuinely great and provides a lot of warmth as well as humor. As much as this review and upcoming statement might reveal…

  • The Brothers Bloom

    The Brothers Bloom

    ★★★

    It’s rather interesting as the movie has many poignant qualities to it. The performances from the main foursome are really strong (even if a few of them are burdened with filmmaking choices that inherently reduce the meaning and remove texture from them), the direction is assured and not without a hint of being unsure of itself, and much of the committed choices do very much pay off in a few key scenes. That being said despite the best intentions the…