• X-Communication

    X-Communication

    ★★★½

    I usually associate director Marc Huestis with vapid feel-good gay fodder. But apparently he used to make interesting shorts, and collaborated with industrial bands.

    Here:
    www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bGdIPr1LE0&t=377s

  • The Man Who Sold His Skin

    The Man Who Sold His Skin

    ★★★½

    There are quite a few problematic details. But this poses interesting questions in thoughtful ways.

  • Bluebeard

    Bluebeard

    ★★★½

    This was an enjoyable thriller, with many sly touches of black humor and over-the-top coincidences, especially in the first hour. The final entrapment sequence was overly extended, but had me starting to doubt my reading right up to the final scenes. Now I wonder what I've said under anesthesia.

    [Thanks to Geoffrey Broomer for the tip.]

  • Rubber's Lover

    Rubber's Lover

    ★★★

    This is finally available (for now) online:
    www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7brscRNP10

    No subtitles, though I doubt they would help to make sense of it. We have again the hyperactive performances of 964 Pinocchio, in an apocalyptic backdrop. Some striking high contrast B&W visuals, cluttered interiors, characters trapped in or interacting with bizarre fetish-y machinery, a nice abstract electronic score, and some nice sound design. Most of the time I had no idea what's going on, but I've sat through Kabuki performances that were similarly cryptic.

  • The Tangle

    The Tangle

    ★★★½

    I've been waiting for this to become available; spotted the poster and the trailer at Another Hole In The Head 2019, but couldn't make the screening. This is definitely worth the wait. (Why is distribution for adventurous indie genre films so sketchy? Precarious (letterboxd.com/billhsu/film/precarious-2020/) was my favorite for AHITH 2020, and still not on any of the common streaming platforms ARGH.)

    The Tangle is a science fiction noir, with lots of visual nods to noir interiors and lighting. The concept…

  • Memento Mori

    Memento Mori

    The apocalyptic deluge of cliches in the second half is kind of breathtaking.

  • A Tale of Two Sisters

    A Tale of Two Sisters

    ★★

    The initial 45 minutes or so is promising, with multiple unstable and unreliable characters, darkly ambiguous conversations, and some marvelously sustained social tension. But Kim's weakness for soap opera bombast and female hysterics gradually ruined this for me. The final sequence just seemed unbearably protracted, and surely we didn't need the extended flashback explaining what happened.

  • Oliver Sacks: His Own Life

    Oliver Sacks: His Own Life

    ★★★½

    The first half is just packed with wild stories. The ending is sad but celebratory. I checked out Lawrence Weschler's memoir of Sacks from the library, and wasn't sure I needed both the book and this doc. But now I'm keen to dive into the book as well.

  • Come True

    Come True

    This was a frustrating experience.

    I love the quick intro to Sarah's situation, and the whole sleep study setup (and the retro Shriekback synthetic shakuhachi, ha). Some of the visual design, with the vast empty interiors and antiseptic colors, is quite attractive. But since everyone in the movie has a smartphone, while I love the look of analog video monitors, it's just ludicrous to have scientific equipment sporting vintage analog displays.

    It would help if filmmakers resisted the temptation of…

  • La Llorona

    La Llorona

    ★★½

    There are certainly subtle, restrained and atmospheric moments here. (I liked the interactions between the young girl Sara and the mysterious Alma.) But there are also quite a few gestures that I consider clunky, like the extended demonstration scenes. The last scene seemed particularly unnecessary and heavy-handed.

  • The Girlfriend Game

    The Girlfriend Game

    ★★★

    Here:
    www.youtube.com/watch?v=23i6ePHpZ0s

    The original story, and other similarly tense and surprising stories, can be found here:
    www.goodreads.com/book/show/17868203-the-girlfriend-game

  • Stranger Than Paradise

    Stranger Than Paradise

    ★★★★

    Was there anything like this in the mid 80s? The awkward silences, the overexposed glare of snow and sand and sea, the messy claustrophobic interiors, the sudden blackout transitions. I never forgot Cecillia Stark's Aunt Lotte turning around and swearing as the trio drove off to Florida. 2nd time around, this seems so gentle, charming and funny.