James has written 95 reviews for films during 2019.

  • A Bread Factory Part One: For the Sake of Gold

    A Bread Factory Part One: For the Sake of Gold

    ★★★

    I feel like this would have been better served in a theatrical setting, where its stilted humor and peculiar universe might have been easier to adjust to with full attention. At home, I never quite found myself absorbed in it over the course of this initial two-hour segment.

    A Bread Factory's heart is certainly in the right place, but its appraisal of the art world, local politics, and non-profit businesses only hits the mark half the time. The other half…

  • The Last Black Man in San Francisco

    The Last Black Man in San Francisco

    White people are even gentrifying movies about gentrification.
    People who like this should be ashamed of themselves.

    No stars because I turned it off after 45m.

  • Michelle Wolf: Joke Show

    Michelle Wolf: Joke Show

    ★★½

    Not as strong as her previous special, but I still really like Michelle. Glad Netflix is still giving her work after The Break, which I really wanted to like but suffered from a pretty poor writing room.

  • The Best Years of Our Lives

    The Best Years of Our Lives

    ★★★★

    Kinda surprised that I didn't love this more than I did. Toland's photography is typically great and the performances are all strong - it very much feels adapted from a novel, where I feel like it's small-town ennui is probably better conveyed. The best parts of the movie, both in story and performance, belong to Harold Russell as Homer Parrish. Shame that we don't see him act much more after this, despite winning Best Supporting Actor for the turn. Will have to check out INSIDE MOVES now, I guess.

  • Home Alone

    Home Alone

    ★★★

    Probably coulda lived without seeing this one again.

  • Robin Hood

    Robin Hood

    ★★★★

    Not that I was deep into Disney movies as a kid, but this one was always my favorite. This was the first time I'd seen it since then - taking LSD on Christmas day with my old friend that now lives in the house I grew up in. He has Disney+.

    Roger Miller's music and narration are perfect - interesting that it worked so well to pair American country music with this story vs something with a more Brit-folk vibe.…

  • Bombshell

    Bombshell

    ★★

    Regal Opry Mills 20, DCP

    Who is a movie like this for and what purpose does it serve?

    If you're watching it, you're already familiar with the events it covers - you're at least left-leaning, near-literate, and kept up with all of the events in real-time.

    So a film like this can only serve three purposes:

    It can further illuminate, a deep-dive of historical detail - here it does not.

    It can provide catharsis through satirization - it tries, but…

  • The Big Country

    The Big Country

    ★★★★

    Amazing for a 1958 film, how much it aesthetically and thematically resembles what American films would look like in the following decade and into the 70's. Hard to imagine Malick didn't have this one in mind when conceiving Days of Heaven.
    The Big Country's only real weakness is in how easily telegraphed the narrative is. There aren't many surprises - as soon as a character is introduced, their fate is pretty immediately clear. Aside from that, it's one of the greatest films of the 50's.

  • The Bitter Tea of General Yen

    The Bitter Tea of General Yen

    ★★★★

    A group of white savior missionaries thinks it's chill to throw a wedding in the middle of the Chinese Civil War until shit hits the fan and the bride gets abducted and quasi-sex trafficked across the continent. Although it's inevitable, it still somehow comes as a shock when she chooses to stand by her war-criminal captor. A fascinating statement on cruelty and the value of human life, it's easy to see why our man Fassbinder was such a fan. Not…

  • A Virus Knows No Morals

    A Virus Knows No Morals

    ★★★

    The second RVP film I've seen, and like the other (It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse, But the Society in Which He Lives - one of cinema's most immense titles, in both size and substance) it examines the ugliest social and political aspects of homosexual life with unflinching honesty, though here spiked with lots of gallows humor. Genuinely funny, outlandish scenarios concerning the ignorance and ambivalence towards the then-raging AIDS epidemic, the feat of the film is in…

  • Whistle and I'll Come to You

    Whistle and I'll Come to You

    ★★★★

    Finally got around to watching this glaring omission on my British folk-horror checklist, and I might just have saved the best for last. Perfectly atmospheric and genuinely very scary, I actually wondered if watching this one before bed might give me nightmares. The figure on the beach, the rustling of sheets coming from the empty bed, and that ominous voice...”Who is this who is coming?” - shudder!

    Now to get my hands on the 2010 version with John Hurt...interesting that…

  • Murder by Contract

    Murder by Contract

    ★★½

    Utterly baffled at how highly praised this one is. Found myself often wondering whether or not this was a parody. It's certainly odd enough to be memorable, I'll give it that.

    Every time Vince Edwards opens his mouth, a litany of insane, hamfisted nonsense comes out. As soon as he starts talking, I feel as trapped as the poor waiter that he spends several minutes berating in one scene.