Otie has written 17 reviews for films during 2019.

  • Striking Distance

    Striking Distance

    ★★★

    Quite apart from the villain (a shameful bore), the twist (are you kidding me) or the production (hopelessly botched), there is the scenario: Bruce Willis in a boat, on a river, in Pittsburgh.

    This is the stuff of which action soap operas are made.

    My tolerance for television is marginal, but if this scenario were a TV show, it could go on forever. Time would find no reason for Bruce Willis to ever take off his standard issue River Rescue…

  • The Lawless

    The Lawless

    ★★

    As well-meaning as it is dull, the picture's film gris critique of capitalism and its positive portrayal of Mexicans don't begin to make up for its white savior complex and tedious lead. Gail Russell is radiant, with empathy for days, puppy dog eyes, and a face that says it all, except for why in the world she would fall for such a stilted bore. (White supremacy, I guess!)

  • Where Is My Friend's House?

    Where Is My Friend's House?

    ★★★★½

    I used to agree with whoever called this “an entire movie of agony for one moment of beauty“; I used to think it was a film about what fools adults are. But the music told me what my mind couldn't, that this is Kiarostami's Pather Panchali, his song of the little road, and the road's a switchback carved into a mountain but just as graceful. The picture is of what it means to be a child when the sun goes down, and to know what's right.

  • Johnny Mnemonic

    Johnny Mnemonic

    ★★

    For a story pitched from the jump as crude v. technical, director Robert Longo's execution comes down hard on the side of crudeness, and it doesn't feel intentional. Flat, eye-level camera placements suck all the tension from the room–like if Howard Hawks didn't know what he was doing–then over-correct with laughably canted alleyway night scenes. Longo, an obscenely popular visual artist in the 1980s and a talentless hack no matter the medium, doesn't communicate one iota of the precision or…

  • L'Avventura

    L'Avventura

    ★★★½

    “Tonight Dick and I and Joe are going to see Breathless and L'Avventura in a double bill. You and I will see them again when you are here. Breathless is so frantic, so nervous, so controlled anyway. So alive. L'Avventura is like a dying life. Days take minutes. Seconds sometimes last for hours. In both pictures, from opposite sides of the coin, marvelous things are done with time. To rip out of the mind of human beings the dead concept…

  • De Palma

    De Palma

    ★★½

    Only a director like Noah Baumbach who privileges words over images would think to make a talking head documentary about maybe the greatest visual stylist after Hitchcock. There are amusing anecdotes, like how gratifying it was for De Palma to see other people adapt Carrie by making every mistake he avoided, or how inadequate of a lead Cliff Robertson was, but only one revelation, the original ending to Snake Eyes, a tidal wave that consumed Atlantic City.

    De Palma speaks…

  • John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum

    John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum

    ★★★

    James Carse wrote:

    Every move made by a finite player is within a boundary.
    Every move an infinite player makes is toward the horizon.

    John Wick is the definition of a finite player, doomed to repeat the same games indefinitely out of immortal necessity. He thinks he lives to remember love, but without the ability to feel or express it, he doesn't live at all. His world is restricted by rules that his seriousness enforces.

    Evil is the restriction of…

  • Die Hard 2

    Die Hard 2

    ★★★

    The Hollywood cliche of sequel-as-pointless-retread finds a kind of divine apotheosis here, where most of the picture's theme and all of its charm derive from how ridiculously and improbably similar it is to its predecessor. Harlin's action chops are good enough, and the joy of watching Bruce Willis take a bunch of crap from blockheads like Dennis Franz, whose character just yells stupid horseshit like a cop without an off switch, is enough to justify this sequel, even if it…

  • Lock Up

    Lock Up

    ★★★

    Begins with a lovely, sentimental intro, like some magical forgotten episode of Cheers, then throws Stallone and the viewer into a classic good-guy-gets-piled-on-by-some-asshole-he-pissed-off-years-ago narrative. Features a lightly homoerotic inspirational auto body montage set to soul music of prisoners play-fighting with pink automotive spray paint, which may or may not have inspired Zoolander.

    Flynn's direction is taut, tense, and mixes tones well, and Sly is well cast, in fact I wondered if he had a hand in the writing at points.…

  • Best Seller

    Best Seller

    ★★★

    Nice little anti-buddy-cop movie with a charming psychopath where the other cop should be. Woods wants to be Dennehy's friend but Dennehy just thinks he's a creep, which we can all agree on. Is an assassin who likes his job a serial killer? What about the corporation that employs him? Larry Cohen seems to like corporations even less than he likes cops.

    Flynn's action scenes are very good, even if the ending isn't, with major set pieces occurring in broad…

  • The Battle of the River Plate

    The Battle of the River Plate

    ★★★

    Powell & Pressburger, as overqualified as two people could possibly be to film a game of battleship, engage in a somewhat technical exercise, a sort of industrial film on a grand scale, and while there's wonderful human detail in every scene, you'll need subtitles to understand half the jargon, and ultimately the picture suffers, like the Navy of its day, from a frightful lack of women. Still, Hein Heckroth's ability to art direct a sunset, and the Archers way of showing camaraderie between foes combine with all that Naval derring-do to make for a graceful, if at times trying, picture. "A maritime ballet," Michael Powell called it.

  • The Spy in Black

    The Spy in Black

    The first unofficial Archers film marries the foggy island life and contrarianism of Powell to the humanist detail of Pressburger, and previews much of what they'd become known for: a sympathetic enemy, villains for protagonists, a perverse knack for putting sly little jokes where most people wouldn't, and a love for human life (to say nothing of butter).

    Powell & Pressburger would again pair Veidt with Hobson the next year in the slightly superior Contraband (aka Blackout), before making their collaboration official and rattling off nine straight masterpieces. Keep your eyes peeled for a young Marius Goring looking butch in five o'clock shadow.