billhsu has written 61 reviews for films rated ★★★ .

  • Truman & Tennessee: An Intimate Conversation

    Truman & Tennessee: An Intimate Conversation

    ★★★

    Enjoyable enough, but could have been more.

  • Abel

    Abel

    ★★★

    This is way earlier than my other two Warmerdam films (Borgman and The Northerners). There's certainly a lot to enjoy here. While it lacks the frigid obsessiveness and cruelty of the two later films, it has a bizarre absurd energy that is attractive. A fair amount of dysfunctional family slapstick, and those blinding reds! The lighting in the homes and in the Naked Girls facility, the doors, interiors, outfits, rouge, lipstick. And doesn't Warmerdam here look more than a little like the young Denis Lavant?

  • Warm Bodies

    Warm Bodies

    ★★★

    I usually avoid zombie movies like (umm) the plague. But could I resist Nicholas Hoult as a zombie?

    It's pretty silly of course. But funny.

  • 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 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

  • The Shout

    The Shout

    ★★★

    Not much I can add to the fine reviews from my friends here. But I did enjoy all the vintage audio equipment and weird recording experiments. And the Francis Bacon cutouts.

    It's on YouTube, but the quality is not great:
    www.youtube.com/watch?v=--IEZWS8gIY

  • This Is Not an AIDS Advertisement

    This Is Not an AIDS Advertisement

    ★★★

    This is on kanopy, but the copy on Kanopy could use some cleaning up.
    JustWatch doesn't list any availability. What's wrong with that application? Argh.

  • Dress Rehearsal

    Dress Rehearsal

    ★★★

    One of course should not expect a Schroeter documentary to be clearly organized and labeled. But there's lots of good footage, and some really interesting juxtapositions. It would have been nice to see more extended, uninterrupted segments from especially Pina Bausch, Kazuo Ohno, Sankai Juku (before they went all new-agey), and Kipper Kids.

    [At worldscinema.org]

  • Swans: Where Does a Body End?

    Swans: Where Does a Body End?

    ★★★

    The version on Amazon is actually more like 160 mins, not 120 as in this entry. Definitely can be tighter, but there's a lot of interesting footage and some good interviews, especially with Jarboe. And the closeups of Gira are helpful. I saw the Swans at a mid-size venue (Regency Ballroom in San Francisco) a few years ago; a distant Gira thrashing around on stage is a bit of a mismatch with the loud immersive music. The closeups really emphasize the intensity of his performance.

    I was hoping there'd be some discussion about Leaving Meaning, Swans' latest evolution, but the doc ends right before that.

  • Dead Mountaineer's Hotel

    Dead Mountaineer's Hotel

    ★★★

    Thanks to TheNinthHeart for the tip (see review for YouTube link). Is that a great poster or what?

    This starts with an Aickman-esque arrival at an isolated hotel. Beautiful snow-covered mountains, kooky characters, shimmering electronic soundtrack, and a cute dog. Do Estonian women always wear those outrageous outfits in the mountains? It slowly slips into a kind of messy existential nordic police procedural, before all hell breaking loose. Complete with preposterous climax and the sombre neo-noir testimonial from the police inspector at the end. I had fun.

  • East Side Story

    East Side Story

    ★★★

    Hilarious.

  • Animals

    Animals

    ★★★

    Not all of this works. But when it does, it's stubbornly and quietly eccentric, and beautifully dreamlike. A talking teddy bear named Deerhoof who's a punk rock drummer? Boys who love Charles Burns? I'm so there.

    The middle does sag significantly, and I'm not a fan of the blowout at the end. But for all my disagreements, this is quirky and inventive, and deserves more love.