Victor has written 185 reviews for films rated ★★★★ .

  • Red White & Blue

    Red White & Blue

    ★★★★

    Noah Taylor’s too much of a puppy dog for the last act to achieve the kind of horror Rumley aims for, but maybe that’s a calculated mercy — the sequence is bad enough without a convincingly dedicated psychopath in the role. The movie belongs to Fuller anyway, and a few questionable plot turns and minor miscasting aside, it’s reassuring to know someone’s still making films about marginalized people when the margins (and the folks therein) recede a little more every day.

  • In the Earth

    In the Earth

    ★★★★

    I can’t help but wonder if some of the negative reviews here have to do with the bumbling, whiny, almost totally ineffectual male lead character, and his diminished status in the movie’s reverse–Adam and Eve creation myth. Loads of neat strobe, too.

  • China 9, Liberty 37

    China 9, Liberty 37

    ★★★★

    When Warren Oates says he’s going to kill a chicken in a Monte Hellman movie, the odds that you’ll see Warren Oates actually killing a chicken are 1:1.

    My Hellman memorial watch. It’s far from his best work, but is still memorable beyond offering a second (to my knowledge) helping of Jenny Agutter swimming naked, personal if only in its meta-narrative reflection of the problematic production history, and notable for the depth and primacy of its human connections. There are worse ways to be remembered.

  • Come True

    Come True

    ★★★★

    Thwarted my aversion to and frustration with ’80s and ’90s horror-trope fetishism by making it pivotal to the plot. Sneaky.

  • 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…

  • Factotum

    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…

  • The Girlfriend Experience

    The Girlfriend Experience

    ★★★★

    sex, lies, and credit default swaps

    The quaintness of the post–2008 economic crisis, Obama-era setting evaporates when one of Chelsea’s clients — pitiful whores and loathsome pimps to a man — characterizes the collapse as “only the beginning.” The downhill slide of chaos capitalism has just picked up speed since, best of luck finding something genuine to cling to on the ride to the bottom.

    It’s strange seeing the various complaints about Sasha Grey’s flat affect here and in contemporaneous…

  • Check it Out! with Scott Clam

    Check it Out! with Scott Clam

    ★★★★

    “I don’t know about the other show, but we run a clean Clam show.” Thank you, Dark Lord.

  • Descent Into Darkness: My European Nightmare

    Descent Into Darkness: My European Nightmare

    ★★★★

    Remember, kids: Always pack more of your meds than you think you’re going to need. A lot more.

    Gives Visitor Q a run for its money in that it anticipates and delivers just about every atrocity you can come up with, sidestepping incest and lactation in favor of, uh, babysitting and barbecue. Whereas Miike’s movie is backhandedly life-affirming, though, this one just succeeded in grinding my latest bout of found-footage obsession into the (bloody, shitty) asphalt; I think I’ll find…

  • The Blood on Satan's Claw

    The Blood on Satan's Claw

    ★★★★

    “Have all the others, then, succumbed to Mark‘s distemper?”

    The slowly, then suddenly, enveloping sense of oppression and hysteria are where this movie stands out, along with Haggard’s devotion to pure cinematic indulgence. It’s only really marred by the climax, in which the devil turns out to be as terrifying as one of those giant stuffed animals you win at county fairs (he falls apart about as easily, too). Still excellent, though; Tigon didn’t last long, but off the top of my head I can’t think of a Hammer film from the same time period that has as distinctive an aesthetic and narrative impact.

  • I Walk the Line

    I Walk the Line

    ★★★★

    Makes such good, counterintuitive use of Gregory Peck’s bottled-up persona that the sad and ugly un-bottling thereof has real shock value. That his character’s behavior goes unredeemed puts this in the ranks of prime 1970s cinema, and despite Peck’s (to me unfairly hobbling) status as a mid-century icon of Hollywood-style righteous moral fortitude, here at least he excels at playing a guy who couldn’t find the high road on a map.

    There’s more to the movie than just an aging…

  • Beaver Trilogy Part IV

    Beaver Trilogy Part IV

    ★★★★

    Watched with low expectations mostly to close the loop, so I was pleasantly surprised that Brad Besser not only addresses my reservations about Trent Harris’s original Groovin’ Gary project (and credits similar doubts raised in a 2002 This American Life podcast) but is savvy enough to not attempt to resolve them. Instead, his thesis — that art is as tricky as the artists who create it — is presented with patience, flexibility, and dry humor, even if threading the needle…