• TRAFFIC MAN

    TRAFFIC MAN

    ★★★½

    A fun mix of Chaplin and Tati, with a musical sequence that feels out of Demy. Charming stuff throughout, and I loved the animation effects.

    Watched as part of my Filling in the Map: Global Cinema Challenge.

  • Who Killed Captain Alex?

    Who Killed Captain Alex?

    ★★★

    Gives off strong let's-put-on-a-show vibes that are pretty charming (the VJ helps here) and the action is surprisingly pretty good.

    Watched as part of my Filling in the Map: Global Cinema Challenge.

  • Labyrinth of Cinema

    Labyrinth of Cinema

    ★★★★½

    A pretty bold and cutting interrogation of the relationship between cinema and history in both Japan and the world at large, while also being incredibly playful and fun; Brechtian with a sense of humor about itself. It is incredibly dense with references that you need to know more about Japanese culture and film than I do to get, but it still worked on me. By the end I couldn't help but feel incredibly moved and inspired by the power of…

  • The Swimmer

    The Swimmer

    ★★★★

    I was a bit hostile to the premise at first (a rich people's problems movie? No thanks!), but it won me over pretty quickly. You feel Cheever's DNA strongly here, and the filmmaking is surprisingly bold, particularly the editing. The gentle mixing in of surrealist elements with naturalism reminded me a bit of a more grounded Bunuel. The metaphor of the swim home works surprisingly well.

  • Park Row

    Park Row

    ★★★½

    Terrific filmmaking here. There are a few long takes (particularly the one of a street brawl) that are perfect examples of "muscular filmmaking," to borrow a tired phrase. Something I did not expect to see in a movie about a 19th-Century newspaper.

    Still, the stakes seemed off to me. There is a lot of to-do about the importance of a free press that can serve the public, but how do they use this free press? First to tell a story…

  • Hangover Square

    Hangover Square

    ★★★★

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    The cuckold noir is my least favorite flavor of noir. It requires the men to be pretty stupid and the women to be even more heartless than the typical femme fatales. For two-thirds of its runtime, that is pretty much what Hangover Square is, and it's...fine.

    But then comes the climax, which is unlike pretty much anything I have seen in a noir; a wild crescendo where the artist fights to complete his masterpiece as his doom approaches. It fully…

  • Children of Paradise

    Children of Paradise

    ★★★★

    Gorgeous production design, great characters, and lyrical dialogue. The last five minutes floundered a bit for me; it feels like it stops rather than concludes, but up until that moment it is about as good as French Poetic Realism gets.

    Watched as part of my Criterion Challenge 2022: Watch a film featured in any of the Essential Art House box sets.

  • The Yakuza

    The Yakuza

    ★★★★½

    A really excellent neo-noir with a Japanese tinge. It is a pretty emotionally effective look at regret, loss, and the burden of obligation. Mitchum's relationship with Ken Takakura is pretty compelling, and they have a certain chemistry of two men bound together who would very much prefer not to be.

    And Mitchum's in the 1970s might be the best face in movie history. Just a roadmap of a sad life filled with regrets. I also need to see more Syndey…

  • Gamera vs. Gyaos

    Gamera vs. Gyaos

    ★★★★

    Definitely the funniest of the first three Gamera films. The gag where the car gets split in half but keeps driving is a classic, and I love all of the campy miniature work. One of the things that has impressed me with the Showa Gamera films so far is the human stories, which are often better than their Godzilla counterparts. The one here doesn't disappoint; it's a simple enough story (local villagers vs. "progress"), but the characters are pleasant.

  • Scandal Sheet

    Scandal Sheet

    ★★★★

    Great sleazy fun from Karlson. Some quite tense moments on the back end of this one, if there is a weakness, it's that the film's nominal protagonist doesn't quite earn his arc. Would have been stronger if Donna Reed got to play the hero on her own instead.

  • Shoah

    Shoah

    ★★★★★

    Watched as part of my Criterion Challenge 2022: One of Amy Heckerling's Closet Picks.

    Absolutely ridiculous to rate something like Shoah, but I guess I will. I have seen several segments before, but never sat down to watch the entire thing from beginning to end. It is an incredibly powerful historical document that manages not only to bear witness to the Holocaust, but to be about the terrible burden of bearing witness, and to explore the rationalizations and willful ignorance…

  • The Little Drummer Girl

    The Little Drummer Girl

    ★★

    You can see a bit of the DNA of Spielberg's Munich in this le Carre adaptation, but nothing quite works. For one, I think Diane Keaton is pretty hopelessly miscast. The plot requires her to make several emotional and motivational 180s, and she just doesn't sell them at all; to be fair, the script gives her no help.

    Apart from character, the movie is also politically pretty wishy washy. It manages to strip most of the politics out of one…