• The Astrologer

    The Astrologer

    “If he wakes up, it won’t work.”

    Rides its spectrum from lysergic to laughably inept to distinctly terrifying with impressive fluidity, punctuating the trip with unexpected twists (the last one with more freckles than I would’ve guessed) and, disappointingly, protracted passages of real atrocity footage. I don’t know the first thing about James Glickenhaus, but it takes a special talent to turn something this fun and compellingly odd into a massive downer for the sake a few mutilated-corpse and injured-kid…

  • The Crimson Petal and the White

    The Crimson Petal and the White


    Those hearts of gold really ought to come with an operator’s manual.

  • Blacker than the Night

    Blacker than the Night

    Deliberate and atmospheric in a way that would’ve scared six-year-old me, comfortable if plodding and routine to ostensibly grown-up me. The parade of pulchritude and black-cat protagonist kept me (mostly) interested, plus I’m getting better at parsing Toboada’s stylistic and thematic conceits; aside from the predictable upskirt shots — that’s a theme, right? — he has a playful way of pushing up to the edge of narrative self-awareness, and an impressively subtle but rigorous visual control. The withholding central to…

  • June 9

    June 9

    Abandoned about a third of the way in when it became clear that I’d been down this road many times before. Too bad — I have a fairly high tolerance for cheap knockoffs, and this built a decent amount of tension and terror, but it was sabotaged every time by chintzy, nonsensical digital glitch effects. Good effort in general, but mostly good riddance to 2008 horror movie tropes.

  • WeWork: or The Making and Breaking of a $47 Billion Unicorn

    WeWork: or The Making and Breaking of a $47 Billion Unicorn


    There’s a sucker born every minute, and some of them own banks.

  • Beautiful Noise

    Beautiful Noise

    A decent, if overstuffed, survey that makes up for its conventionality with a sophisticated, carefully constructed take on the elusive power of shoegaze (without ever once stooping to that derisive term). Take your pick of glaring omissions, though — Bardo Pond and especially Swirlies were mine.

  • All the Colors of the Dark

    All the Colors of the Dark


    Pretty fluffy. Every time I hoped it’d lean into the cruelty and ugliness of its premise it amplified its Vegas revue by-way-of Bob Guccione affect instead. Fenech is a prize in every way, though, and Martino nails the nightmare visuals in a couple of scenes, so all is forgiven.

  • The Ugly Swans

    The Ugly Swans

    For all I know Lopushansky’s reconfiguration of the Strugatskys’ novel ultimately works on its own terms, but I gave up when, 15 minutes in, a character clumsily explains away the mysteries and open-endedness that give the book its unsettling power. There’s also a cheap, late-’90s aesthetic to it that’s far from inviting. Disappointed.

  • I See You

    I See You


    So people do remember how to make movies, then. Happy day.

  • Kong: Skull Island

    Kong: Skull Island


    I finally powered through this so as not to be completely lost during Godzilla vs. (ha), and with lowered expectations based on my first pass mostly enjoyed and was even surprised by it. The big, opening buildup going fully to shit minutes into the second act was unexpected and rewarding, and framing the whole thing as a Vietnam War allegory even kind of made sense (although the aesthetics of the setting seemed to have been conceived by a pre-teen who…

  • Ferat Vampire

    Ferat Vampire


    Gives new meaning to that old joke: How do you cut the price of a Skoda in half? Empty the gas tank.

    Not only does Herz provide one of the best opening credits sequences ever executed (it’s a movie unto itself), he deploys his customary agile satire to skewer anarcho-capitalism’s tediously predatory cycles while also paying fond homage to virtually every cinematic Dracula up to that point. As meta-horror movies go, this is on a par with Cuadecuc, Vampir.


  • Factotum



    Judging from the movies that have been adapted from his work you’d think Charles Bukowski had only one story to tell (not so), but at least this go-round is perceptive enough to frame its by now familiar belly crawl through Skid Row as fiction rather than auto-hagiography. It’s a hell of a tightrope to walk: Factotum gives us both the hard-drinking, uncompromising literary maverick impossibly unburdened by whiskey dick and graced with movie-star good looks Bukowski wanted to be, and…