• The Phantom of the Opera

    The Phantom of the Opera

    [Unrated director's cut]

  • 54

    54

    [Director's cut]

    A film as ludic and wobbly and buzzed as the utopic club at its center. That director Mark Christopher had to restore his original vision using a combination of VHS dailies and film negatives only contributes to its drifting, patchwork quality; the film feels misshapen, its dramas centerless and meandering. This is not to say 54 is without interesting elements: there are clear traces of Christopher's allusions to Fosse and Lucas (specifically American Graffiti) floating through what ultimately…

  • Down to You

    Down to You

    Okay, yeah, sure, I have a huge crush on Selma Blair and I'm a sucker for the era-specific aesthetics, but still: I genuinely think this is much better than its reputation suggests. I've never really seen this specific tonal formulation: granted, the film uses familiar rom-com conventions (generally quite well), but they're filtered through such a level-eyed, dramatic narrative of a relationship in decline. The way it merges dual character retrospections with a forward-moving plot works in tandem with its…

  • Standing Still

    Standing Still

    I did it for the Beek.

  • Deadly Friend

    Deadly Friend

    "It was also my first big studio film, and there were about twenty producers on it. They all had different opinions, so it was like—I am amazed that anything that came out of that film is watchable whatsoever."
    - Wes Craven, The Directors (American Film Institute, 1999)

    "[Deadly Friend] is one of my worst films."
    - Wes Craven, Fangoria 200, March 2001

    In the midst of a painful divorce and unceremoniously yanked from an in-development Beetlejuice, Craven finds himself directing…

  • Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City

    Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City

    The lens choices. The lighting. The images. I just want to state, once again, that Johannes Roberts is one of the most vital visual stylists in contemporary mainstream horror cinema.

  • Djinn

    Djinn

    ★★★★★

    [Director's cut]

  • Lonelyhearts

    Lonelyhearts

    "All I want to do is heal a wound that I gave to myself before it festers."

    "Adultery, violence, and drunkenness have won the day."

    Melodrama as a desperate, futile fight with pessimism.

  • The Matrix Resurrections

    The Matrix Resurrections

    The metatextual elements are disempowered a bit by our current oversaturation of self-referential and self-conscious media, but there's some genuinely thoughtful narratological stuff happening here. There are several imaginative images and designs, too, but the visual approach overall sort of feels like it's ready-made for Apple store sample monitors and home theater streaming. The action sequences are largely lackluster, although there are moments of exception. Every scene with Niobe is borderline unbearable. Still, I actually quite like this as a whole: imaginative and genuinely intelligent blockbuster filmmaking, overflowing with reflections on storytelling and memory, appearance and reality.

  • Pain & Gain

    Pain & Gain

    I'm shocked at how much I liked this. It's like a Jim Thompson narrative played out as glittering, gaudy comedy of no manners. It's both a seductive spectacle and a damning indictment of the American capitalist ethos, proof that social satire need not stoop to pearl-clutching and finger-wagging, but is in fact much more effective when it gets bound up in the contradictions of its targets. Indelible images throughout.

  • Last Summer

    Last Summer

    ★★★★★

    Last House on the Left's smiling, sun-soaked predecessor.

  • House of Gucci

    House of Gucci

    An unwieldy, dissonant, strangely mesmerizing work of satire.