December 5, 2023

I’ll do my best to stop this from becoming a screed. Emerald Fennell’s Saltburn (2023) is a fun movie rooted in tried material. For its first 90 minutes, I was engaged, laughing, oo-ing, ah-ing, and even staring in shock. This tale of a beleaguered scholarship student and nerd named Oliver Quick (Barry Keoghan) who strikes up a lucky friendship with an aristocratic Oxford collegemate, Felix (Jacob Elordi), kept me on my feet. The movie’s beginning presents Ollie as a crestfallen... Read more

November 27, 2023

  Liliana Cavani’s The Skin (1981) only has 13 user reviews on IMDb, three of which are from American soldiers who played extras in the film (or their children). None of the military once-overs deal with its content, and at least one recounts how grunts who saw the movie upon release spent its runtime Where’s Waldoing themselves. I cannot imagine a more powerful indication of the film’s success. It sets out to show the realities of Neapolitan life under Allied... Read more

November 20, 2023

Eli Roth’s Thanksgiving (2023) is a holiday success story. This is your classic popcorn slasher, a diverting blend of blood and laughs to go with your salty treats ‘fore the big screen. We’ve got shocking kills, eye-popping gore (with some practical effects!), and a mystery that holds its own. In the spirit of 80s and 90s slashers, it’s willing to be funny and irreverent without pretending to be something it’s not. That’s what really makes this gem about a man... Read more

November 16, 2023

Brian De Palma’s Blow Out (1981) begins where it ends. On its surface, there’s nothing all that remarkable about this fact. You might even call it “effective leveraging of form” or simply “good writing.” In more heavily declined languages like German, the first position in a sentence is emphatic. Wir gehen jetzt. Jetzt gehen wir. The latter emphasizes the “now.” It might better be translated “get your ass in gear” or “I’m offended. We’re out.” In Latin, both the alpha... Read more

November 10, 2023

Another movie about would-be celebrity self-immolation? We’ve got Showgirls (1996), Mulholland Drive (2001), and many others besides. If you take 2018’s Vox Lux to be a tale of the entertainment system and its discontents, you could be forgiven for disliking the film. Natalie Portman’s Staten Island accent leaves something to be desired (I should know; I’ve got two siblings raised there). The story’s beats are nothing new: sleep with your manager, get addicted to pills, feel the slow metamorphosis from... Read more

October 31, 2023

“There was blood upon her white dress, and the signs of her terrible efforts to escape were upon every part of her thin form.” – Poe “Victorie, my liege, and that with little losse.” – Kyd The House of Yes (1997) is hilarious. That might seem like the wrong word for a movie about a family broken apart on the day of JFK’s assassination. The father left that day. There are three Pascal children. Two are twins, Marty (Josh Hamilton)... Read more

October 24, 2023

The Net (1995) is a Cassandra of a film, if Cassandra’s curse were to be right about the future but to be so thoroughly pat and anodyne that no one would care. Coming in at almost two hours, most of this Sandra Bullock-driven thriller watches like a script pumped out by an AI trained on half-shredded copies of a Tom Clancy novel stuck in a big, beige printer. There are a couple notable, all-too-notably-human exceptions. Thank God for those. The... Read more

October 18, 2023

Voyeurism is one of those things. Most of us don’t peep through people’s windows or scan from a park bench looking for rustling in high grass. But the ubiquity of online porn, the way our heads turn at the swirling red lights at the side of the road—most of all the psychic enchantment of movies and TV—suggest an affirmative answer to the killer website’s question in FeardotCom (2002): do you like to watch? Cinema has notoriously furrowed its brow at... Read more

October 11, 2023

I Think We’re Alone Now (2008) is about two very different people who arrive at the same conclusion: late-80s two-hit wonder, Tiffany, is the missing piece in their lives. With her love, whatever emptiness they feel would be filled. Jeff Turner is a man who lives alone in a cluttered California home. He has (as it’s put in the movie) “Asperger’s” and obsessively collects clippings about Tiffany. Once he tried to give the popstar chrysanthemums and a katana. Amidst his... Read more

October 6, 2023

“Gimme your quietest indie film.” “No, that’s too quiet and indie.” – Hans Mole-chan I remember the reign not of Indie Sleaze but of Indie Twee. It’s still with us in this very room. Wes Anderson is out there making movies, and Juno (2007) is just a click away. Before Barbie (2023) there was Baghead (2008). Even Dane Cook got involved. I still remember Steve Carell’s face smashed up against a stack of pancakes at the Blockbuster. No hoard of... Read more

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