• Malignant

    Malignant

    ★★★½

    It's genuinely awesome how this feels almost 0% sheepish in evolving the emphatically out-there plot, with every voluntary tone-clash leading up to Wan's accomplished set pieces. It's just a little disappointing that for the most part the visuals, here meaning more the cinematography, specially the colors (or lack there of), than the creature design or the compositions, fail to utilize that same creative leeway to depart from the standards of today's mainstream horror. Naturally, I'd imagine it would've been more fun in the theater, and probably even more so along a potentially derisive audience, but that final third is a blast nevertheless.

  • The Last Duel

    The Last Duel

    ★★★★

    2.5 highly watchable hours of having the cake and eating it too. Structurally and thematically deconstructs its very own genre of the medieval action epic, but also plays straightforwardly. Never veers towards parody or vapid self-awareness, with the back and forth verbal and physical confrontations between petty aristocrats still being the bulk of the story, yet acquiring biting nuances given the context. One could object to its depiction of sexual violence, but at the same time it'd be harder to…

  • La Notte

    La Notte

    ★★★★½

    They're not mutually exclusive, but an integral differentiation between an empty mood piece and a great movie about emptiness is how great it looks, ironically or not. Featuring stunning high-contrast b&w cinematography and attractive stars certainly can't hurt, yet it's all about the way the extraordinary compositions evoke the kind of glamorous muted despair Antonioni is getting at.

  • No Time to Die

    No Time to Die

    ★★★★

    I liked it when the car went vroom, the gun went pow and the music got really loud. (can you tell it's my first trip to the theater in 20 months?)

    Classically sumptuous big-budget action extravaganza done proficiently, which in this case may not add to properly great cinema like a couple of Craig's entries as Bond, but certainly lands on the top echelon of the franchise and consequently fares remarkably well against contemporaries of its kind. It's the type…

  • The Case of the Naves Brothers

    The Case of the Naves Brothers

    ★★★★½

    It's only when you see torture done like this that you truly realize how glossy even intentionally ugly violence is in other audiovisual work. Person's blend of legal-ish statement-of-the-facts reenactment, with striking melodramatic close-ups and the physical and psychological aggressions themselves, which of course include every part of the 'due process', is incredibly effective in its juxtapositions. Naturally dialogues with the last film I saw in scary, insightful ways too.

  • Auto de Resistência

    Auto de Resistência

    ★★★★½

    The subject would be appalling regardless of approach, but this documentary's both distant and focused perspective presents a peek into the genocidal M.O. of Rio's Police in a way that's also compelling as cinema. Like the chant goes: It didn't end, it has to (it won't).

  • Man in Love

    Man in Love

    ★★★★★

    They had us in the first half, not gonna lie.

    Wonderfully lives up to the genre-clash premise of a manic, merciful gangster collector helplessly falling for one of his debtors. A well-tuned mix of violent confrontations, slow-burn problematic-till-adorable extortion turned into romance, touching family drama and social critique, with funny moments all around. Then, it builds into this grand, obliterating, unapologetic melodrama that's equal parts beautiful and the saddest movie of all time that really turns on the waterworks.

  • Just Like Heaven

    Just Like Heaven

    ★★★★

    If I had already paid rent for a place like that in San Francisco I wouldn't accept dying so easily either.

    Probably not great, but it's perfect rom-com melodrama with really likable performances from its stars.

  • Summer of Soul (...or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)

    Summer of Soul (...or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)

    ★★★★

    Questlove is so obviously enamored with the festival footage - as everyone should because it really is astounding - that the hesitation to let it properly speak for itself feels a bit odd. The contextualization is essential and most testimonies are poignant, but at moments it all blends together as this sort of scattered color commentary that takes from the inherently cinematic natural rhythm of the performances and the frequently ingenious montages hatched from them. Now, of course, this is…

  • Happier Than Ever: A Love Letter to Los Angeles

    Happier Than Ever: A Love Letter to Los Angeles

    ★★★★

    The animated interludes almost always feel superfluous and the supposed homage to LA seems slim at best, so it doesn't offer at lot beyond the live rendition of the album at a crowd-less Hollywood Bowl, but guess what? That's already good enough.

  • The Sacrifice

    The Sacrifice

    ★★★★

    Latter work from great artists tend to reflect on death, legacy, regret, family and so forth, but this approaches the overwhelming terror of finality as a broader concept, through religiosity, is categorically haunting. And this time, it's not just empty, feeble letterboxd jargon talking, the ghostly acerbity of the images and words do amass and begin to resonate even if the actual drama of the characters isn't being properly registered amidst the deliberate pacing. I'm sure I could've gotten more out of it had I seen any Tarkovsky before, yet it fortuitously aligned with things I read recently, and that's always striking when it happens.

  • The August Virgin

    The August Virgin

    ★★★★★

    These days you gotta get the most mileage possible out of the scarce moments of inspiration that may come, so I made a video version of the write-up on summer movies I did earlier this month.

    Check it out here if you want to:

    SUMMER TALES - The Green Ray and The August Virgin