• The French Dispatch

    The French Dispatch

    ★★★★½

    Art during wartime, more than life during wartime, forced to embrace its confinement and find grace in its trappings. In construct not just an ode obviously to writing and lived adventure, but also editing and distribution, an understanding of the combat even in expression to be heard and stand relevant. The three main tragicomedies with distinct classical reference points then refracted through the accomplished Wes Anderson prism, as much as they are complete and compelling stories with surprising elegance, also…

  • No Time to Die

    No Time to Die

    ★★½

    Gets enough right in the globetrotting and even sells its cloying but sensible send off enough to be tolerable, but Fukunaga really drops the ball in directing the action outside of its initially successful chase sequence. Even its high point with Ana de Armas as a nervously feisty green agent (a fine tonic compared to some of the most expendable one liners Craig drops at random) is over with only a cool practical effect or two, it’s actual gunfights and…

  • Village of the Damned

    Village of the Damned

    ★★

    Also pretty compromised, though for different reasons than Memoirs. If anything this is technically more in Carpenter's wheelhouse, as shown in some moments like the framing of the discovery of his dead wife with an overlay of the haunted baby or the finale which reads like a less inventive Prince of Darkness ending, but it's unfortunately sabotaged by possibly the worst non-self-penned screenplay he's had so far and some miscasting (namely Dr. Kirstie Alley and Mark Hamill as a defiant…

  • Clockwatchers

    Clockwatchers

    ★★★

    Purposefully slight but endearing variant to Office Space's angry man "burn it all down" energy with a more resigned, somber acceptance of the soul-sucking office world. As organic as the key foursome relationships grow and, more astonishingly, naturally crack and fade, I almost wish that as the office space became more hostile it took a chance at a heightened potential of Mike Judge (and possibly even Kaufman-level) surreality, but it sticks the landing of resigned hope in the transient purgatory that is any impersonal workplace.

  • Memoirs of an Invisible Man

    Memoirs of an Invisible Man

    ★★

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    HOLLOW MAN

    Not that bad for the most part, just compromised. I don't even see Carpenter's fingerprints here in the practical effects actually, namely I mostly see it in his use of widescreen environmental framing and especially in an early impressively abstract set design of a half-visible building. But you can sense the studio butting in with the framing device and constant empty voiceover, and Chase's comedic desires and perhaps William Goldman's punchups in some of its thin jokes that…

  • They Live

    They Live

    ★★★★

    Slavoj was right, Carpenter's hidden masterpiece. As much as its anti-capitalist message could be rebutted or at least called rudimentary, why then would it demand vitriol in response instead of raucous enjoyment of its riotous takedown? Which moment represents modern discourse more, the famous fistfight over just wearing a pair of glasses or the earlier encounter with a woman who placates the lead's point of view while condescending and suggesting she'd never truly believe it? And this is all after…

  • Daughters of Darkness

    Daughters of Darkness

    ★★★

    Pretty fun little torrid affair of flirting with the dark side and the boundaries pursuit and romance will still put between you and another. I think what most surprised me is how its European sleazy atmosphere (especially in its elegant interiors and very fun soundtrack) is used not as a slow-burn giallo or self-serious Polanski manner but as a Radley Metzger production would, very self-interrogated and purposefully constructed to only be around the relationships of the characters within. At least…

  • The Return of the Living Dead

    The Return of the Living Dead

    ★★★★

    A personal favorite horror film. It's got a rich 80s vibe and a sense of humor so it often gets compared to Evil Dead but I feel that's a misnomer, O'Bannon has a lot of the same interests as previous co-worker Carpenter and with its emphasis on practical effects and confined settings is just about as entertaining in its self-imposed restrictions. I think the two things that really stick out to me on rewatches that are why I find it…

  • Bones

    Bones

    ★★

    At its core technically more thorny and has more of a statement than this years Candyman when it comes to subjects like gentrification, taking advantage of your own neighbors, and modern reclamation of your troubled history (namely because its there from the start) but just not a very good or even fun horror for the most part, save chiefly the revenge shift in the last act. I get why structurally, even thematically, and mostly to sell it to a modern…

  • Deadly Friend

    Deadly Friend

    ★½

    "See all that stuff in there, Homer? That's why your robot never worked."

    As wild as it was to see this on TCM and its audacious rebuttal of its initial precocious robot friend pitch to something more disturbed, it doesn't really sell its horror elements or the potentially interesting dynamic of its demented lead. Really instead is just a bad slasher that isn't even fun.

  • Mi Vida Loca

    Mi Vida Loca

    ★★½

    Very actively poetic and genuine for the most part! The way it's driven by textural montage and perspective-driven narration, much like DGG's George Washington, comes from a time in independent film where stylistic homages to Malick were done out of appreciation of its environment before it became co-opted by those aiming for self-importance and Hollywood goals. The story even ducks a few early obvious histrionics to remain ruminating on not just its 90s Latinx Echo Park world but specifically the…

  • Encounters of the Spooky Kind II

    Encounters of the Spooky Kind II

    ★★

    Probably only worth it as a partner to House or for Sammo completionists, its highpoints are the spiritually tinged fight scenes namely the master fighting the ghost with a yin-yang yo-yo, and the bad guy priest beating a ghost in and out of Sammo Hung's body. A lot of its humor whether baudy or merely vaudeville was very hit-or-miss and a few elements just genuinely lost in translation (feels like it ended with the punchline cut out). Some fun lo-fi effects and Sammo Hung lets himself just get drenched with live cockroaches.