Victor has written 107 reviews for films during 2020.

  • The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart

    The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart

    ★★★★

    The nostalgist in me enjoyed revisiting the songs (the brand-new Saturday Night Fever album was the soundtrack to my late–high school experience, eat your hearts out), but the cynic in me can’t help but notice how music docs like this and others pivot to an extent on prophylactic old-white-guy-reputation rehab. Why else would the Sgt. Pepper’s movie get swept, like so much Miami cocaine, under the rug? A “warts and all” approach would’ve been just as respectful, maybe more so.

  • Home for the Holidays

    Home for the Holidays

    ★★★★

    Has roughly the same relationship to Christmas that day-old pasta water has to the Atlantic Ocean, but that’s a virtue. As with Black Christmas, the plastic piety and jacked-up sentimentality of the genre recede in favor of a sustained dive into the festering, ultimately explosive resentment that haunts a tight-knit group of women. ’Tis the season and all that. The gruesome murders and ensuing sense of loss have real impact, too.

    Recommended for proto-slasher buffs and the Xmas ambivalent.

  • Rush: Beyond The Lighted Stage

    Rush: Beyond The Lighted Stage

    ★★★★

    Overplays the band’s outsider/cult status somewhat (they were huge), but does a decent job of capturing their dorky amiability and unflappable workhorse approach to music overall. Irrefutable proof that Geddy Lee does indeed speak like an ordinary guy is offered as well.

  • Black Christmas

    Black Christmas

    ★★★★★

    When this cut to moaner-cam POV I was prepared for it to confirm my belief that if you’ve seen two slasher movies you’ve seen one slasher movie too many, but I was happily shocked to discover it’s one of the scariest, most visually inventive and meticulously conceived horror films I’ve seen in years instead. Still not going to watch Porky’s, though.

  • The Student Nurses

    The Student Nurses

    My second Stephanie Rothman movie. It’s more schematic and less abandoned in its radicalism than Group Marriage, but I’m starting to see where her genius lies: She gives the lecherous males in the audience enough of what they (we) want to make us think we’re getting everything we want, then springs emotional nuance and a steadfast dedication to intelligent female characters with real agency and a negligible need for men on us. It’s a genre unto itself — Pill Pocket cinema. Take your medicine, horndogs.

  • The Swerve

    The Swerve

    ★★★½

    Amazing lead performance and impressively sustained dread throughout, but I struggled to find anything illuminating in Holly’s one-way descent into the melancholy valley. Her fate is foregone from the start, and without some deeper insight into her motivations or distance from her turmoil the trip just becomes a melodramatic slog. Impossible to dismiss even so, and for those feeling particularly masochistic this would pair well with Krisha.

  • Our Mother's House

    Our Mother's House

    ★★★★½

    This contains several subtly spooky scenes and a lone exceptionally terrifying one, but it’s mostly driven by a poignant, plausible, and psychologically sound inevitability. The child actors are terrific, and Bogarde is savvy enough to stay out of their limelight. I’ll just say it: Better than The Innocents.

  • Night of Fear

    Night of Fear

    ★★½

    If most ’70s rural stalk-and-slash sexploitation movies strike you as overly long and too talky, this is for you.

  • The Hourglass Sanatorium

    The Hourglass Sanatorium

    ★★★★★

    Has does a remarkable job of capturing the uneasy warmth and rambling anti-logic of Schulz’s stories, and sweetens the pot with frequent visual callbacks to his drawings. For all that, he takes a darker, more fatalistic approach to the source material’s indifference to linear narrative — in no small part, I’m sure, because he knew how it ended for Schulz. Where the author seemed content to drift through and get lost in his dream landscape, Has anticipates the pit-trap at the center of its ever-regenerating concentric circles.

    Profoundly disorienting cinema, and a standard for literary adaptations.

  • TV Junkie

    TV Junkie

    ★★★★

    The bullshit, backhanded auto-hagiography lurking beneath the surface of this, which only really surfaces in its finale, isn’t enough to detract from the otherwise savagely unflattering honesty Kirkham exhibits throughout, but his and his co-directors’ sloppy disregard for Tami in the end just feels like another of his cons. Kirkham credits his sons with spurring him to finally turn his life around, but without their mom’s enduring, embattled resolve who’s to say where they’d have ended up? (She’s also a…

  • In Darkness We Fall

    In Darkness We Fall

    ★★★★

    Every once in a while my wife asks me if horror movies actually scare me, and I typically give her a hopeful, hedging “sometimes almost kind of” response. This one, barely classifiable as horror, genuinely got the job done: During the second-act scenes of increasingly reckless spelunking I caught myself, more than once, involuntarily groaning. So despite some late-film narrative flab and a questionable wraparound sequence, this little sleeper wrung me out; I could hardly wait to tell the missus.

  • A Record of Sweet Murder

    A Record of Sweet Murder

    ★★★★

    Happily surprised that this takes place in the same (hostile, implacable) universe as Shiraishi’s Occult and Cult, but with better effects, more consistent tension, and a keener grasp on the intersection of its macro and micro concerns. The sexual antics of the thrill-seeking thug couple don’t pass the smell test at all, unfortunately, but they’re mostly compensated for by the “it was a Christmas movie all along” climax.