• Creepy

    Creepy

    ★★½

    I like the idea of tackling the fears of suburban life, such as meeting the neighbors and the crushing weight that the obligations of domesticity bring, under the guise of a psychological thriller meets detective movie. On paper, it sounds great. If this is the execution, though, maybe not so much.

    The first two-thirds of this are actually pretty good for this type of thing. Forced to retire from the police force after he’s injured by a suspect, Koichi Takakura…

  • The Chess Players

    The Chess Players

    ★★★★

    From what I’m used to, if you have a difficult period in history that a filmmaker is trying to revisit, the resulting movie will often come with a certain type of tone. I’m a huge fan of angry agenda pieces, I’ve seen plenty of bemoaning bad choices, and there are more pull-on-the-heartstrings, “the world needs to be aware of this” movies than one can shake a stick at. And that’s not me taking a shot at any of those. I…

  • Buchanan Rides Alone

    Buchanan Rides Alone

    ★★★

    Let’s take a moment to check in on director Budd Boetticher trash talking classic Hollywood heavyweights.

    On Orson Welles: “Well, he was a great director. But I don’t think he was George Stevens … I think it’s seen as being proper today for young people today to know that Orson Welles was a genius. The truth is, he wasn’t. We didn’t have any geniuses.”

    On John Wayne: “A bastard … I was a boxer, and he couldn’t have hit me…

  • Bad Education

    Bad Education

    ★★★

    Almodóvar eschews most of his staples to go full De Palma noir, complete with multiple identities, sexually fixated characters, blackmail and murder. In case you don’t catch that change, two characters go to Noir Week at the cinema very late in the film. As they are leaving, one of them says to the other something to the effect of, “It seems as though they were all talking about us.” Thank you for that brick over the head messaging, movie, it’s…

  • Theater Work - The Berliner Ensemble at 25

    Theater Work - The Berliner Ensemble at 25

    ★★★

    Are you into German poet, playwright, and all around theater icon Bertolt Brecht? If you are, is this ever going to be right up your alley, probably. What is presented here (more on that in the next paragraph) is three short films about Brecht, his life, his work, and his lasting influence. I’ve broken out the three films separately because, in spite of the common subject matter, they are very different from one another.

    However, there is a mystery afoot,…

  • Dune

    Dune

    ★★

    … aka Exposition: The Movie.

    Fun story, since this opens on Virginia Madsen’s head: I met Virginia Madsen once, very briefly. Her presence where I happened to be caught me off guard, but I default to being polite, a quality most of my friends would dispute exists. I very respectfully said, “Oh! Hi, Mrs. Madsen,” and then immediately followed that with, “Loved you in Highlander 2,” as she was reaching out to shake my hand. I’m still unsure if the…

  • Decision at Sundown

    Decision at Sundown

    ★★★★

    Tons of bonus points to director Budd Boetticher and writers Charles Lang and Vernon L. Fluharty for trying something very different here. I don’t know that it all works, but, because it takes a chance and doubles down on that chance every time it could turn to more standard American western convention, it ends up as one of Boetticher’s more significant films. Whatever ground it loses in narrative is made up for in boldness, and I appreciate that.

    “The worst…

  • The Italian Connection

    The Italian Connection

    ★★★½

    American hit men Dave Catania (Henry Silva) and Frank Webster (Woody Strode) are summoned to Milan by the powerful Mr. Corso (Cyril Cusack). Corso wants a public example made of small time pimp Luca Canali (Mario Adorf), his body left on display for all to see and his death talked about all over Milan. Our assassins, with mission in hand, go to see mob boss Don Vito Tressoldi (Adolfo Celi). Tressoldi is none too pleased that Americans have shown up,…

  • When the Trees Fall

    When the Trees Fall

    ★★½

    This movie sure did a whole lot of work to end up at “innocence, imagination and hope are only purely accessible to children.” 

    I’m really unsure about how I feel about that. Surely, I thought halfway through, this is going to end up at some grander theme or split away from that idea to incorporate other ideas, but nope! That’s what this movie has got for you. So … okay? I see where you’re coming from, and you’re not wrong.…

  • Is Paris Burning?

    Is Paris Burning?

    ★★

    A bit of business first: if you want to read some excellent behind the scenes information on how this film came to be, you should really check out Amilcar Pavot’s review of it. It’s a fascinating read, as are all of his reviews, and I’m not prepared to go into nearly that much detail. EDIT: Also check out Mike Kennedy's review, as well. Mike has all sorts of great information all the time, and he has a much different take on…

  • Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!

    Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!

    ★★★½

    “When you put your heart and genitals into something, it’s personal.”

    Ricky (Antonio Banderas), who has tried to escape multiple times, is set for release from a psychiatric institution. The director (Lola Cardona) of the facility, with whom Ricky has had an ongoing sexual relationship, doesn’t want him to go but sets him up with a decent amount of money and a list of jobs to look into. However, the moment Ricky is free, he only has his sights set…

  • Shanghai Triad

    Shanghai Triad

    ★★½

    Of all the movies I’ve watched, this is certainly one of them.

    We are introduced first to Tang Shuisheng (Wang Xiaoxiao), a 14 year old boy who has just arrived in 1930s Shanghai at the behest of his uncle Liu (Li Xuejian). Quick note: the sound design in this opening shot of the boy’s eyes was aces. Liu, in spite of his self-aggrandizing, is a low man on the totem pole in a criminal organization run by The Boss (Li…