Victor has written 142 reviews for films during 2019.

  • Vagabond

    Vagabond

    ★★★★★

    The first of Varda’s non-documentary films for me, and I see now that her embrace of the murky, ponderous friction between the “natural” world and the demands of society is practically unparalleled. (Malick’s no slouch, either.) So while Mona’s fate here is tragic, I can’t bring myself to characterize her story as a tragedy — my envy for her resolve never slipped, even as I recognized her as a nuisance or worse. The line between courage and obtuse self-destruction can be razor thin; Varda renders it with frankness and compassion.

  • Chatterbox!

    Chatterbox!

    ★★★

    “Are you kidding? I can’t even spell ‘self-righteous’!” Said a vagina.

    My money’s on this being the movie that finally wrecked Candice Rialson’s career, but it’s still surprisingly light and funny, and oddly tricky to unpack. If that’s the kind of thing that speaks to you (sorry), there’s a pretty good rip of it here.

  • My Dog, Buddy

    My Dog, Buddy

    ★★★

    For nostalgia-addled boomers, Ray Kellogg completists, and dog admirers only. Played me like a Cracker Jack–prize little plastic harmonica, so put me in all three columns.

    The pivotal narrative trauma and copious dog-in-peril scenes (some genuine enough to inspire real discomfort) elevate this above generic kiddie-flick status, and any movie shot almost entirely outdoors gets a pass from me. (My interest was also sustained by trying to determine if London the dog was one of those silly, shaggy monsters in…

  • Crawl

    Crawl

    ★★★

    The past is an eater.

  • Chained for Life

    Chained for Life

    ★★★★½

    “Yeah, but if everything were ideal, then nothing would be ideal.” Flip that and I’m all in.

    Fussier in its table-setting than, say, Bruno Dumont’s work, where hyperaggressive inclusiveness is deployed the way a toddler might handle a hair-trigger shotgun (that’s a compliment all the way around), this excels by sustaining its nimble indulge-rebuke-repeat strategy right to the very end. And while it’s satisfying to see Pauline Kael taken down a peg or twelve, in hindsight her epigraph could be…

  • 63 Up

    63 Up

    ★★★½

    On at least one point Apted’s just plain wrong here: We never stopped caring about or worrying for Neil, or wanting to hear what he has to say. Lighten up, Michael, lest the tables fully turn come 70 Up.

  • Hitch Hike to Hell

    Hitch Hike to Hell

    ★★½

    Cheap, ugly, cruel, and unaccountably involving. Russell Johnson runs the full spectrum of humorless befuddlement as the lead cop, whose approach to police work is unsullied by proactive field investigation (it’s practically a jump scare when he finally appears upright halfway through), while Robert Gribbin handily earns his place in the cinematic pantheon of charmless, whinging Norman Bates knockoffs. The least credible thing in the movie is that he drives an ugly-ass Ford van that’s still somehow a babe magnet.

  • I Wish I Knew

    I Wish I Knew

    ★★★½

    Same here.

  • A.K.A. Serial Killer

    A.K.A. Serial Killer

    ★★★★

    Going in with zero awareness or understanding of the “landscape theory” that props this up, I was floored by its juxtaposition of ostensibly dispassionate social observation (maddeningly judgmental by my reckoning) and rapturous, heroically sustained eye-candy visuals (attributable to Yutaka Yamazaki as much as to Adachi would be my guess). The flow of the thing, with its teasing side-treks into nightmare imagery and stubborn refusal to romanticize either natural beauty or human ingenuity, is what lingers. The movie never stops…

  • Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

    Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

    ★★★★

    Temporal dysphoria is a hell of a feeling, let me tell you — I had to pause this a couple of times to let the feeling of hyper-nostalgia fade. If it had included a Ralph Williams Chevrolet commercial I may well have slipped into a coma.

    Before I watched it a friend told me she considered it Tarantino’s career requiem, which sounds reasonable given all his recent chatter about quitting the business. There’s a poignant, even desperate sun-setting quality to…

  • The Perfume of the Lady in Black

    The Perfume of the Lady in Black

    ★★★★½

    Mimsy Farming #5

    Expect anything, including racist tropes as narrative sleight of hand, a disorienting nonlinearity that’ll give your short-term memory a real workout, and meta commentary on Farmer’s propensity for nudity that implicates the audience in the most savage way possible. Amazing. Thanks, Kanopy.

  • Dementia 13

    Dementia 13

    ★★★

    Another Thanksgiving week family nostalgia watch, possibly my last for this movie. I still appreciate how off-kilter and near-experimental some of its set pieces are (especially the pre-credits scene), and I’d forgotten how gory and unsettling it can be, but there aren’t many real surprises left (Luana Anders getting second billing was a pleasant one this time around); the Psycho mimicry gets more glaring with each viewing, too. But it’s still a keeper, and I’ll never waver from my contention that Ronald Stein’s score is equal to Bernard Herrmann’s for the Hitchcock film.