James has written 13 reviews for films rated ★★ during 2019.

  • 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…

  • Jobe'z World

    Jobe'z World

    ★★

    Gregg Araki has been channeling this garish 90's aesthetics shit since the dawn of garish 90's aesthetics. So now that everyone's on that style and movies like this are a thing, can we start giving Araki his due?

  • Dolemite

    Dolemite

    ★★

    I guess since I watched the Brewer film, I should give this a go.
    Not a particularly great movie, but has it’s charms - primarily in RR Moore’s priceless line deliveries.
    The best part of the movie is Vainus Rackstraw’s lone screen credit as Creeper/The Hamburger Pimp, whose junkie informer routine is believable enough to make me worry about his off-screen life.

  • Between Two Ferns: The Movie

    Between Two Ferns: The Movie

    ★★

    Watched like half of this before giving up on it - maybe I’ll finish it eventually.
    The insult-comedy aspect of it holds up in the interview portions, but the universe-expansion and relentless reliance on celeb cameos is just terrible.

  • A Hidden Life

    A Hidden Life

    ★★

    Telluride Film Festival, DCP

    Absolutely incredible that Malick can tackle themes as universal and fundamental as these inquiries into the nature of moral fidelity and self-determination in the face of oppression, and come out the other end with a film as superficial as A Hidden Life.

    Three agonizing hours of Malick’s wispy steadicam and untethered amateur philosophy set in the Austrian mountains as WWII encroaches. For a while, the serene village scenes provide a idyllic Reich-pastoralism that brings to mind…

  • Rad Plaid

    Rad Plaid

    ★★

    Pleased to have watched this alone in my home versus in a room of screaming strangers.
    I don't think it made the experience much better though.
    Hopefully, this is just not the best Jodie Mack film to begin with.

  • The Underneath

    The Underneath

    ★★

    A mostly lifeless remake of 1949’s CRISS CROSS, replete with aggressively "90’s" over-stylization. The garish visuals do little to cover up the inherent cheapness of the production, and lots to cement an emotional disconnect with these characters, ensuring that every one of the film's ample betrayals falls flat.

  • Pursued

    Pursued

    ★★

    A totally convoluted story, told almost entirely in flashback as Mitchum perplexingly recants the prior 20 years to his sister, who was there for all of it and prob doesn’t need to be reminded.

    Not even juicy plot threads like attempted child-murder and quasi-incestual romance could save this one.

  • India Song

    India Song

    ★★

    Metrograph, 35mm

  • The Thomas Crown Affair

    The Thomas Crown Affair

    ★★

    First time seeing this classic, and wow it kinda blows.

    Puzzlingly terrible cinematography and a distractingly overbearing score. Also, I'll just come out and say it - Windmills of Your Mind sucks. Why do people think this is a good song?

    TCA1968's worst offense though is in neglecting to mine an inherently potent premise - a game of cat and mouse where the cat and the mouse admire, respect, and eventually love each other, and are openly communicative about the nature of their trajectory as it plays out. Alas, it's a dynamic that's just never fleshed out as interestingly as it could be.

  • The Phantom of Liberty

    The Phantom of Liberty

    ★★

    MoMA, 35mm

    Buñuel at his corniest.

    Strange this is held in such high regard when it's basically the heavy-handed and unfunny equivalent of a Zucker/Abrahams film.

  • The Beach Bum

    The Beach Bum

    ★★

    Nitehawk Williamsburg, DCP