• You Were Never Really Here

    You Were Never Really Here

    ★★★★½

    A chiseled dagger, this one. Every ounce of excess, sheared away. What’s left is sharp, efficient, unforgiving. It’s a masterpiece of a sort.

  • The Red Shoes

    The Red Shoes

    ★★★★★

    “You can't alter human nature.”
    “No, you can do better than that: you can ignore it.”

    Bold of Criterion to release porn on 4k. This thing is obscenely beautiful.

  • Railway Station

    Railway Station

    ★★½

    As a series of 20 second nano-stories, I like a lot about “Railway Station.” It’s an interesting artifact of a specific place and time with its own rhythms and fashions. What doesn’t work is his interjection of forced commentary on state voyeurism, with huge chunky cameras and a doomy score. He spun magic from these same ideas in his late fiction films but in this context it feels super-imposed and imagined, even if there’s some truth to it.

  • Hospital

    Hospital

    ★★★½

    I love it when doctors, in a room full of doctors, call other doctors “doctor.” See also: chefs.

  • Factory

    Factory

    ★★★

    Ostensibly an elementary contrast between managers of a Polish foundry and the steelworkers on the ground, but Kieslowski was already exercising his gift for empathy and humanism by capturing real passion in the voices of the self-confessed paper pushers. They do care about the laborers and they fight for them in their way. It doesn’t do much with the factory footage as it’s not really the focus.

  • Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin

    Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin

    ★★★

    A sweet, low-calorie little film about one of our great home-town writers (see also: Beverly Cleary). It doesn’t do much more than skim her life and work but it succeeds on its own limited terms.

  • The Tragedy of Macbeth

    The Tragedy of Macbeth

    ★★★

    “Throne of Blood” remains undefeated.

    This is a gorgeously mounted staging of the play and the cast generally has a better handle on our man’s absurdly complex rhythms than most, but it’s not enough. It’s still “MacBeth” which means it’s still a joyless, incoherent mess.

    The older I get, the more important I feel it is for Shakespearean directors and actors to push harder to locate themselves in the words; it’s virtually impossible for anyone in this play to deliver…

  • Benedetta

    Benedetta

    ★★★½

    Paul Verhoeven is a loon. The title nun wet dreams to Jesus beheading rogue marauders and somehow this is a prestige, uh, drama about a medieval French convent overrun with horniness and stigmata. I’m probably underrating it because I’m not sure it’s possible to overrate it.

  • E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

    E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

    ★★★★★

    no douchebag talk in my house

  • The Card Counter

    The Card Counter

    ★★★

    I forgot that I saw this at some point. Not especially memorable, clearly, but it’s fine. Not Schrader’s best but Oscar Isaac as an emotionally vulnerable crook is fun.

  • The Novice

    The Novice

    ★★★★

    First things first:  "The Novice" features an absolutely beastly lead performance by Isabelle Fuhrman as Alex Dall, a university student whose obsessive work ethic drives her to self-destruction. Fuhrman is extraordinary, dedicating every ounce of her body to Alex. I was riveted by her.

    "The Novice" is surprising, largely because it flatly refuses to lean on familiar indie drama conventions. It's not an observational film, even though every location and drop of sweat are vivid and real. But, it doesn't linger…

  • Censor

    Censor

    ★★★½

    I’ve been sick and wanting to stab all humans in the eye but this one reorganized my mental mud long enough to impress me — it’s a very clever take on the Video Nasties shenanigans, succeeding in large part because it’s anchored by a committed performance from Niamh Algar (whose public star has risen considerably in the past couple years), who manages to wring pathos from a humorless crisp. I typically hate horror films about horror films but her outsider perspective really animates “Censor.” A gem.