• Twelve Monkeys

    Twelve Monkeys

    ★★★★

    "12 Monkeys is, in a meaningful sense, a remake of La Jetée, but it’s more focused on Vertigo, about which it’s not particularly subtle. After Willis and Stowe put on their disguises, they sit in a rep theater and watch it, issuing the thunderously banal (but true!) observation that every time you rewatch a film, “You aren’t the same person who saw the movie before.” Gilliam takes this logic a few steps further by refashioning the material into deliberate visual…

  • Léon: The Professional

    Léon: The Professional

    ★★½

    Just a note that I didn't actually watch Léon, because that is the name of the full director's cut. I just streamed the original theatrical release version (available on, of all things, a free CBS portal on Apple TV), which was more than enough.

  • Ghost World

    Ghost World

    ★★★½

    "Ghost World is exactly the same as when I saw it at the precisely correct age of 15: teen angst springing in part from the (not incorrect) perception that American life is basically a banal nightmare to be escaped from, if not actively scorned, at every possible opportunity. Theoretically 18-year-olds living in 2001, Enid (Thora Birch) and Rebecca (Scarlett Johansson) seem less like millennials on the cusp of workplace/college entry than especially snide Gen X’ers, their disdain (and the film’s) unevenly distributed around a number of targets, some more justifiable than others." More here.

  • Yi Yi

    Yi Yi

    ★★★★½

    "The most endearing character—Ota, Issey Ogata’s nearly saintly Japanese video game mogul—is now the oddest element. The skyscraper where dad NJ (Wu Nien-jen) works has an amazing view, enhanced by pigeons regularly flying out at pretty magical moments—a real gift to any shoot, since I can’t imagine bird wranglers were perched out of frame in a crane (none are listed in the credits anyway). Ogata comes to make his pitch, then—while NJ is conferring with his venal partners about how…

  • Groundhog Day

    Groundhog Day

    ★★★½

    This is one long joke about reshoots, changing actor reactions take by take, and continuity, which isn’t automatically a metaphor for anything, just a logistical pain in the ass. But it’s also an opportunity for redoes and seeing how each choice produces new, branching-off results, and I’m surprised every Hong movie since like A Tale of Cinema hasn’t been compared to this.

    This is a peak “Bill Murray vehicle” for him to be quippy, reflexively disdainful and so stuck within…

  • Stranger Than Paradise

    Stranger Than Paradise

    ★★★★

    I'd seen this once before, in high school, on a standard-def DVD. Obviously pretty iconic. Thought about two things while rewatching it:

    * Legs McNeil going off: "Television, burgers, drinking, violent behavior? ... I love all of that. I declare these things to be mine. I appoint liking Hogan's Heroes and McDonald's to be cool. I love America, too. I love everything about Modern America, the long freeways, Republicans, marching off to foreign wars for no reason, the whole bit.…

  • Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets

    Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets

    ★★★½

    "Barflies mistranslate William Blake’s exhortation to see the world in a grain of sand as 'study the human condition through endless hours sitting at the bar'—if in vino veritas, then more wine must equal more truth, right? Bill and Turner Ross’s Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets is a day-night-day portrait of an unrepentant Las Vegas dive, the Roaring 20s, on its last day of business—tomorrow, as the closing time saw goes, the regulars don’t have to go home, but they can’t…

  • Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

    Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

    ★★★

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    I watched this a second time to see if I would like it more or if it would remain my least favorite QT since Inglourious Basterds, and though I ended up liking the opening stretch significantly more, this doesn’t ultimately crunch. The first time around, there were a lot of moments where I wondered, “Is this relaxing or just boring?” The second time around, I was very into it for a while. And, on a production design, world-reconstruction level, this…

  • Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

    Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

    ★★½

    "A serial of serials, The Rise of Skywalker is a calamitously overstuffed series of exposition dumps, relentless incident and canon box-checking, like watching someone who’s on four hours of sleep and three Red Bulls try to do an immense task in as little time as possible so they can crash again—the movie is barreling through about three times as much information as it could reasonably bear." OK, we're done here.

  • A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

    A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

    ★★½

    "I know everyone is tired, anxious and could probably use a hug; nonetheless, with no venom against the late Mr. Rogers, his status as one of the closest things contemporary American culture has to an agreed-upon secular saint is a trifle bonkers, no?" More here, from TIFF.

  • No Safe Spaces

    No Safe Spaces

    For my sins, I went back to the conservative beat one more time.

  • Synonyms

    Synonyms

    ★★½

    "The press copy for Nadav Lapid’s third feature stresses its autobiographical ramifications: 'like his Synonyms protagonist, [Lapid] soon felt he had to leave Israel determined never to come back. Uprooting himself, he moved to Paris because of his self-professed admiration for Napoleon and a passion for soccer star Zidane and Godard movies.' Quite a package there, and Lapid’s stand-in Yoav (Tom Mercier) is consistent with that biographical sketch: one of the first things he does upon arriving to Paris is…