• Caught

    Caught

    ★★★★

    I say this about every Ophüls film and I mean it every time: this might be one of the most gorgeous looking films I've ever seen, with its sumptuous mise-en-scène, meticulous hard lighting, and fluid camera work. (For an example of Ophüls's impeccable understanding of blocking and visual storytelling, look at that short sequence wherein all three main characters are in the same room at the same time for the first and only time in the film. As the camera…

  • The Silent Partner

    The Silent Partner

    ★★★★½

    A few minor quibbles aside—almost all of which are related to Elaine's characterization and the predictability of her arc, and almost all of which work well within the structure of the film anyway—this is a damn near perfect film. The screenplay interweaves plenty of small, self-referential details in a dense plot but never gets bogged down by them or loses sight of the bigger picture—the one about men coming to terms with their perceived failures, about the parallel tragedies of…

  • M*A*S*H

    M*A*S*H

    ★★★

    MASH walks a very fine line between a comedy about mean attitudes and a mean-spirited comedy, and it doesn't always fall on the right side of this line. It hasn't aged particularly gracefully either, so the satire frequently feels crass rather than sharp or critical. But it is still very funny, and consistently so.

  • 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her

    2 or 3 Things I Know About Her

    ★★★½

    Godard's most intimate film; also one of the great films about construction.

  • A New Leaf

    A New Leaf

    ★★★★½

    - Did you hurt yourself?
    - No, no. Kneeling on broken glass is my favorite pastime. It keeps me from slouching.

    Relentlessly hilarious and impossibly tender.

  • The Set-Up

    The Set-Up

    ★★★★½

    Robert Wise sure knew how to direct a film, didn't he? 
    The morality tale in The Set-Up is basic: man looking for personal and professional redemption protects his dignity at great cost. But Wise depicts the personalities, relationships and dynamics behind the boxing scenes with authenticity and intimacy, and the boxing scenes with sensational visual dexterity. And few actors can better Robert Ryan at this type of bruised machismo. The result is a film that is economical, exhilarating and incredibly moving.

  • Hail the Conquering Hero

    Hail the Conquering Hero

    ★★★½

    Nice to see American politics hasn't changed one bit.

  • Illusions

    Illusions

    ★★★½

    While the reasons for Illusion's aesthetic and logistical limitations are completely understandable, I still appreciate it more as a thesis than I do as a cinematic achievement, and wish Dash had had the opportunity to build on this specific story on a larger scale. Still, it's historically and culturally monumental, and I'd recommend it to just about anyone.

  • The Hustler

    The Hustler

    ★★★★

    This really could have been an all-timer were it not for a second act that sags in the middle by at least fifteen minutes.
    There is so much to appreciate here: Rossen's controlled direction, the precision of the framing, those magnificent dissolves, the uniformly excellent cast, and that opening half hour, with Eddie's introduction and the 25-hour marathon against Fats, which is just transcendent.

  • Shane

    Shane

    ★★

    Absolutely insane and inadvertently hilarious how many times everyone says Shane in this film. And yet, that ridiculousness can’t distract from the unbearably schmaltzy music, the hokey jingoism, or the dewy-eyed glorification of the American project. Sure, those vistas look gorgeous and majestic—isn’t that always the case in Western films with a half-competent crew?— but otherwise the reputation of this film completely baffles me.

  • Edge of the City

    Edge of the City

    ★★★½

    There are quite a few aesthetic and structural bones to pick with Edge of the City—from tonal inconsistencies to basic lapses in editing from shot to shot—but its visceral impact and the cool, marvellous chemistry between Poitier and Cassavetes outweigh the shortcomings.

  • The Palm Beach Story

    The Palm Beach Story

    ★★★½

    "Chivalry is not only dead, it's decomposed."

    Even an hour into the film, I thought this would be another case of a screwball masterpiece leaving me a bit unmoved, but once the film relocates to Palm Beach, the finale is irresistibly written and relentlessly hilarious. Mary Astor and Sig Arno are *chef's kiss*