Tim Brayton

Tim Brayton

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UW-Madison PhD student, and film critic at AlternateEnding.com

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  • The Haunted Castle

    The Haunted Castle

    ★★★

    We can generously describe the setting as a "castle"; no generosity in the world is sufficient to pretend that it is "haunted". And I understand that my beef here is with whomever first imported the film to England or the United States a hundred years ago, and not with the film itself, but it's still annoying.

    As for the film itself: absolutely phenomenal sets, and that's not something to take for granted. And F.W. Murnau, in his second-oldest movie known…

  • Ménilmontant

    Ménilmontant

    ★★★★★

    The question of why a film of such hazy tragic poetry would open with an axe murder is not one for which I can provide even a tentative answer, but the murder is, to be sure, a triumph of stunning formalism. And in that respect, it's a perfect kick-off for 37 minutes of the purest cinema out there, wordless visuals relying on faces and city landscapes to do all of the work of telling a story that's both grounded in…

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  • Judas and the Black Messiah

    Judas and the Black Messiah

    ★★★

    In retrospect, of course Warner Bros. wasn't going to put out a movie that genuinely grappled with Fred Hampton's revolutionary politics, and it's on me that I was idiot enough to wonder if they might. Instead, despite a couple quotes from Marxist literature, and one appearance each by the words "socialism" (at the start) and "proletariat" (at the end; also, I might have missed a "proletariat" in there, I wasn't really thinking to count it), this mostly turns Hampton into…

  • Detainment

    Detainment

    So first, I can't imagine how damn stupid you'd have to be to think you could get away with telling this story this way without getting life rights from the survivors, or heavily anonymising the details, or ideally both.

    Let's say you've decided not to care about any of that. That still leaves the question of what reason there is to tell this story. What is the viewer supposed to get from this? Is it just to grind our faces…