• The Abyss

    The Abyss

    ★★★★

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

    Michael Biehn is pretty much the only exception to the "Jim Cameron writes terrible human antagonists" rule. Holds up better than I imagined in spite of the enduringly corny last few minutes that is only slightly improved by the addition of the tidal wave sequence.

  • Avatar

    Avatar

    ★★★½

    I thought it was a good time when I first saw it and I feel pretty much the same in retrospect. I regret not seeing it in theatres but it's still pretty overwhelming visually in hi-def. It struck me while watching that Jim Cameron has a problem writing dialog for human villains and is much better off with human good guys and omnipotent/alien/inanimate antagonists.

  • Titanic

    Titanic

    ★★★★½

    Pretty much all aspects of this one hold up, especially the effects and overall attention to period detail. Also, Kate Winslet was and still remains staggeringly attractive on all fronts and I would very much like to marry her.

  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

    Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

    ★★★★

    Onwards with the Winslet binge! This one offers all the hallmarks of a comedy in a collage of madcap introspection and self-aware zaniness that packs a surprisingly devastating punch to the gut as well. Kind of the other side of the coin to the Reader when it comes to chronicling the collapse of a relationship and its consequences, I found the unlikely sci-fi spin within the plot surprisingly unobtrusive and Jim Carrey once again reinforces his dramatic chops in a sort of meta-humorous context.

  • The Reader

    The Reader

    ★★★½

    Continuing my streak of aughties Oscar bait featuring Kate Winslet, this one wastes no time establishing its unsettling high concept premise, which follows a former SS guard's post-war relationship with a teenage boy who winds up wielding a surprising amount of influence over her accountability many years later. Watching one damaged person begat another in such an intimate way only to be forced to stare an entire lifetime's worth of mistakes in the face inspires a strange sort of pity…

  • Revolutionary Road

    Revolutionary Road

    ★★★★

    After seeing a parody trailer that edited a bunch of footage from this into a hilarious Titanic sequel promo I knew I had to see it, and sure enough it delivers on the strength of the performances alone. American Beauty director Sam Mendes was the perfect choice for this adaptation of a supposedly much better novel though, keeping the tension and emotional gravitas high in an almost awkwardly personal examination of a deteriorating marriage in a suburban 50s setting. Keeping…

  • A Hard Day's Night

    A Hard Day's Night

    ★★★½

    When I was a kid I liked the Help! movie more, but this one has certainly aged better. It utilizes a lot of visual and editing techniques which were quite cutting edge at the time to cash in on the group's staggering success while the iron was hot, essentially creating the blueprint for future music feature films by weaving performance footage into a loose narrative tying together a series of comic set pieces. It feels very lived-in and down to…

  • The Terminator

    The Terminator

    ★★★★½

    Very little to say about this that hasn't been said. Hard to choose between it and T2 but this one is definitely more harrowing and intense, if not quite as cleverly written or flawlessly executed. Hard to imagine the level of police carnage and general brutality being signed off on by a major studio these days as well.

  • Freeway

    Freeway

    ★★★★

    Residing neatly amongst a string of offbeat road movies that were often as bitterly humorous as they were cruel and unusual, this one follows the lineage of Natural Born Killers and the Doom Generation in a queasily entertaining yarn centred around a deranged cat-and-mouse game between Kiefer Sutherland's perverted serial killer and Reese Witherspoon's no-nonsense ward of the state. Briskly paced and a particularly 90s brand of cynical, it manages to reorganize tropes like the heroine's trailer trash family background…

  • The Cotton Club

    The Cotton Club

    ★★★★

    I thought I'd dig into some of Coppola's less celebrated films after the Godfather Coda in the hope that time had been kind to at least some of them, and sure enough, his follow-up to the commercially underwhelming Rumble Fish was similarly slept on upon release but saw a gradual reappraisal that culminated in a re-edited and expanded director's cut appearing a few years ago. Even in this version which was considerably better received, it is easy to see how…

  • Catch Me If You Can

    Catch Me If You Can

    ★★★★

    I avoided watching this one for years because for some reason I expected something a lot more vapid than what I got, which is silly because it wound up being the exact sort of clever comedy/drama that Spielberg does best. Almost two and a half hours flies by due to the sharply drawn depictions of its characters and exhilarating pacing. Performances expectedly top notch and just the right tone of pathos and amusement throughout. Would make a cute double bill with Wolf of Wall Street!

  • The Neon Demon

    The Neon Demon

    Like the rest of Nicolas Winding Refn's other post-Pusher output, I found this one to be an intense and visually arresting experience while watching it, but find I have very little to think about or say upon completion. The old adage "style over substance" is particularly appropriate here. At times I felt like I was watching a bizarre mirror universe giallo version of Showgirls, at others a sleazy contemporary erotic thriller take on Blood and Black Lace, but the aesthetic…