• Tenet

    Tenet

    ★★★★★

    Christopher Nolan's much ballyhooed art-action blockbuster may not have saved Hollywood as predicted but it sure captures the mood of the anxiety-ridden year of 2020. The story follows a secret agent as he becomes involved in the fight to defeat a constantly mutating world threatening menace. The experience of time becomes different than it was and anytime someone tries to explain what's happening it just gets more confusing. Everyone's safety is dependent on the whims of a self-absorbed rich guy with anger management problems who's mean to his employees and wife. An alternate title could have been Doomscrolling.

  • Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man

    Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man

    ★★★★★

    Tough cop thriller in the French Connection vein that pushes the sleazier aspects of the genre to the point of sublime absurdity. So 1970s that I expected a disco ball to come crashing through the ceiling in every scene. From the director of Cannibal Holocaust.

  • 21 Bridges

    21 Bridges

    ★★★★

    An ultimately unsuccessful but thoroughly enjoyable attempt to make a gritty 1970s New York thriller a la The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three as a 2019 big budget hollywood blockbuster. Would make an interesting double feature with S. Craig Zahler's Dragged Across Concrete.

  • Death Smiles on a Murderer

    Death Smiles on a Murderer

    ★★★½

    A nonsense goulash of bits of Edgar Allen Poe stories, gauzy softcore sex scenes, and surprisingly gruesome gore. No masterpiece but it has it's moments. Co-starring Klaus Kinski and a cat.

  • Rambo: Last Blood

    Rambo: Last Blood

    ★★★

    Rambo returns to the big screen and, despite his desire to stay out of the fray, gets involved with a despicable cross-border teen prostitution ring and ends up quite graphically, and with consistent flair, killing a lot of anonymous and/or sneeringly evil bad guys. It's a surprisingly downbeat and melancholy movie, shot through with imagery half-remembered from John Ford Westerns and Ford Truck commercials. Despite those tips of the cowboy hat visually, I was struck by how much the film's…

  • 3 from Hell

    3 from Hell

    ★★★

    Rob Zombie returns to characters last seen in The Devil's Rejects for a somewhat slow-moving but disturbingly violent journey ole Mexico way. I've never really connected with the Manson-Family-by-way-of-Texas-Chainsaw-Massacre cool(?) Zombie seems to going for in these films, but there's something romantic about how a big part of the movie seems to be about simply photographing his wife, Sheri Moon Zombie, in different outfits and crazy situations, sort of like Godard and Karina in the 60s.

  • It Chapter Two

    It Chapter Two

    ★★★

    Shallow and showy, a series of setpieces grouped around the themes of small-town sadism, the past governing the present, and dropping the f-bomb. I jumped in my seat a few times and enjoyed the performances (always fun to watch motormouth James Ransome work, Bill Hader is kind of a revelation) but sometimes you can be a little too faithful in your two-part adaptation of a 1000+ page source novel. The ample runtime does allow for some fun cameos: I spotted Canadian enfant terrible Xavier Dolan, the debonair Peter Bogdanovich, and the maestro himself, Stephen King, resplendent in a Neil Young t-shirt.

  • The Sect

    The Sect

    ★★★★★

    Unsettling extended riff on Rosemary's Baby,The Evil Dead, and co-writer/producer/mentor Dario Argento's nightmare narrative logic a la Suspiria. Director Michele Soavi effectively sustains a sense of things just about to make sense, for disparate, increasingly disturbing details and events to finally jigsaw into place...and then things really get weird . Not sure it's a great movie but one I'll be thinking about for awhile. With music by Pino Donaggio.

  • Amityville II: The Possession

    Amityville II: The Possession

    ★★★★★

    Ambitious re-working of The Shining and The Exorcist that becomes it's own thing and goes to darker places than most movies, horror or otherwise, would dare to tread. Director Damiano Damiani uses space within the frame and camera movement very smartly to ratchet up the tension and unease and gives his cast room to breathe in their characters. With music by Lalo Schifrin.

  • Free Solo

    Free Solo

    ★★★

    Very effective crowd-pleasing documentary about a daredevil rock climber. The filmmakers get a lot of astonishing shots from distances micro to macro of death-defying feats, but I found myself wishing that they would pick an angle and distance and let a shot stand for a minute, especially during the big climactic ascent.

  • Captain Marvel

    Captain Marvel

    ★★★★

    Pleasantly bland latest entry in the marvel movie juggernaut. I gave it 4 stars instead of the 3 it so richly deserved because the comic relief often consists of a 'de-aged' Samuel L. Jackson bantering with a tabby cat (or,according to the credits, one of four different tabby cats that star as: the tabby cat). Admittedly, not really that interesting! But I would like to encourage big studios to cast more cats in their pleasantly bland movies.

  • Climax

    Climax

    ★★★★

    Things get weird for a dance troupe, celebrating their last rehearsal in an isolated bunker, when they start drinking some sangria. Pretty soon everyone's yelling and getting all grabby. Director Gaspar Noe's technique and his actors' physical performances have an infectious, almost occult energy that is, at times, intoxicating. His philosophical and political musings, often expressed as text on screen, are less exciting. A better remake of Suspiria than the actual remake of Suspiria that came out last year.