James Westbrook

James Westbrook

Pro

All those monkeys writing Shakespeare lost interest and started reviewing movies instead.

Favorite films

  • Ganja & Hess
  • Taste of Cherry
  • Under the Skin
  • Apocalypse Now

Recent activity

All
  • Shoah

    ★★★★★

  • The World of Apu

    ★★★★

  • Last Night in Soho

    ★★★

  • Aparajito

    ★★★★

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  • Paris, Texas

    Paris, Texas

    ★★★★★

    The America of Paris, Texas is an America of horizons. Grass-flecked deserts that go on for miles, hills that crest and recede far past where we can see them, and sunsets that sweep across everything in sight, the earth descending into twilight blue as the sky dances in hues of gold and purple. Even when Travis Henderson sits on the hill top of his brother's swanky L.A. home the city lights below him stretch for so far, glitter and blink…

  • Nomadland

    Nomadland

    ★★½

    As if independent film's lingering obsession with Malick fucked a Vox explainer on the ripple effects of the '08 housing crash. It's at its best when it embraces the oral tradition and lets Real People tell their stories in warmly lit wide-angle close-ups, but it's telling that those moments come and go in bite-sized snippets that are largely window dressing for Nomadland's real obsession: watching Francis McDormand perform poverty against self-consciously-beautiful Western backdrops. There's an argument to be made that…

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  • Shoah

    Shoah

    ★★★★★

    A collage of stories, people, and places, disconnected individual experiences that, compiled together, form a complete portrait of man's greatest failure.

    A minimalist documentary, nothing but single-shot interviews and roving B-roll of the bustling towns and now-abandoned camps in which so much evil took place, a film that uses a few simple tools to force a deeper consideration of the historical moment it studies.

    A deeply empathetic ode to the Holocaust's survivors, one that, unlike most fictional renderings of the…

  • The World of Apu

    The World of Apu

    ★★★★

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

    "He remains poor. He does nothing great... but he doesn't turn away from life. He says living itself brings fulfillment and joy." Apu describes the protagonist of his new novel to his friend Pulu as they walk city streets late at night, Apu's eyes glowing as his voice rings with excitement. Pulu scoffs and dismisses the book as autobiography, and he's half right: like his book's protagonist Apu is an orphan, utterly alone in the world, and like his protagonist…

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  • Last Night in Soho

    Last Night in Soho

    ★★★

    I'm glad I accidentally saw this in 35mm, since this is exactly the kind of old school fetishism that feels like it's begging for the slight fuzz and crackle of actual film stock. To be fair, Last Night in Soho isn't total pastiche; It's been compared to giallo a lot, and while it's certainly aping the color and mood of the Pervert Italians it's so specifically British, and so specifically obsessed with the fashion, objects, and interior design of 60s…

  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier

    Captain America: The Winter Soldier

    ★★½

    Comparing this to a 70s paranoia thriller is like comparing a Pop Tart to actual fruit. Get a well-balanced bite and you'll find an okay-if-too-sweet facsimile of the original flavor, but the overall experience is defined by the same preservatives and dry crust that make each Pop Tart so similar to all the others. There are a couple great action scenes in the first act but that just makes it an extra shame that this devolves into the same "ope…