• Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City

    Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City

    The lens choices. The lighting. The images. I just want to state, once again, that Johannes Roberts is one of the most vital visual stylists in contemporary mainstream horror cinema.

  • Djinn

    Djinn

    ★★★★★

    [Director's cut]

  • Lonelyhearts

    Lonelyhearts

    "All I want to do is heal a wound that I gave to myself before it festers."

    "Adultery, violence, and drunkenness have won the day."

    Melodrama as a desperate, futile fight with pessimism.

  • The Matrix Resurrections

    The Matrix Resurrections

    The metatextual elements are disempowered a bit by our current oversaturation of self-referential and self-conscious media, but there's some genuinely thoughtful narratological stuff happening here. There are several imaginative images and designs, too, but the visual approach overall sort of feels like it's ready-made for Apple store sample monitors and home theater streaming. The action sequences are largely lackluster, although there are moments of exception. Every scene with Niobe is borderline unbearable. Still, I actually quite like this as a whole: imaginative and genuinely intelligent blockbuster filmmaking, overflowing with reflections on storytelling and memory, appearance and reality.

  • Pain & Gain

    Pain & Gain

    I'm shocked at how much I liked this. It's like a Jim Thompson narrative played out as glittering, gaudy comedy of no manners. It's both a seductive spectacle and a damning indictment of the American capitalist ethos, proof that social satire need not stoop to pearl-clutching and finger-wagging, but is in fact much more effective when it gets bound up in the contradictions of its targets. Indelible images throughout.

  • Last Summer

    Last Summer

    ★★★★★

    Last House on the Left's smiling, sun-soaked predecessor.

  • House of Gucci

    House of Gucci

    An unwieldy, dissonant, strangely mesmerizing work of satire.

  • A Writer's Odyssey

    A Writer's Odyssey

    High fantasy/sci-fi hybrid by way of wuxia blockbuster. I was reminded at times of Aronofsky's The Fountain, Carpenter's In the Mouth of Madness, and the Wachowskis' Cloud Atlas, but this weird amalgam is very much its own thing. Definitely one of the better 2021 releases I've seen.

  • Robin Hood

    Robin Hood

    [Unrated cut]

  • Kingdom of Heaven

    Kingdom of Heaven

    [Director's cut]

    I've never been able to sink into this one's narrative/emotional rhythms; I always feel like I'm admiring it from a distance. It's formally rigorous and beautiful, of course, and filled with compelling philosophical/political leads—I blame my reaction on my shortcomings as a viewer, not on the film.

  • 1492: Conquest of Paradise

    1492: Conquest of Paradise

    A sublime aesthetic object mired in huge ideological problems.

  • American Gangster

    American Gangster

    [Director's cut]

    "You are what you are in this world. That's either one of two things: either you're somebody, or you ain't nobody."

    Ridley Scott strives for a quasi-documentary aesthetic, and the results are sometimes disorienting—the frames often feel like they're fighting against a natural drive for more studied composition. As a depiction of individuals always-already subservient to rigged social systems and insatiable human striving, the film is rich; as a post-noir deconstruction of gangster film tropes and representations, it…