Last 10

Apr 20 – 27
I’ve stolen this idea from Film Comment. The only thing that’s different is that I’m not a known filmmaker giving you a list of the last ten movies I’ve seen.
Dark Phoenix (2019) – Why are the aliens in this movie so sinister? What’s their deal, man? Since the onslaught of the comic-book movie, never has there been a weaker set of character’s walking around, dead-eyed and monotone than these. These movies are proving more and more that the artists behind the CGI are why we’re watching these funhouse horrors. It’s definitely not for the actors.

Human Desire (1954) – Gloria Graham’s character lives near a railroad depot and her husband works for the railroad. He’s big bruising, boozing Broderick Crawford. He’s no good. None of the men are in this movie, really. Not even Grinning Glenn Ford. Even though at the end, the film tries to make his decision not to murder Crawford, a noble one. He’s just as weak as the rest of them. Even his buddy Edgar Buchanan is just a misogynist of the times, coating everything with a jolly laugh. Lang frames Graham’s character as a femme-fatale, but he subverts that trope by giving her some room to move. Her explanations make sense, even to a wily Ford. She’s been groped at and prodded and beaten on since she was sixteen. She’s been fighting and clawing her whole life. You don’t really blame her for doing what’s she’s done. And when she meets her end on that train, you blame every man that ever lived.

Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019) – It’s starts off with an almost menacing tone. A Mario Bava-like-feel on these hazardous cliffs. The two women standing there on the edge of the bluff, framed by Sciamma in this overlapping profile, their heads turning to look at each other at a frantic pace, bordering on possession. In a sense, it is a possession. This movie and it’s ideas. That feeling of the overlapping of love and art. Art as the only means to an expression of something taboo. And in that sharing of the forbidden, there are intersecting lines of devastating beauty and bottomless inaccuracies. Where, in the apportionment of one’s own art there lies a connection. A connection that works its way into a bond. It’s there in the end, with the sharing of Orpheus and Eurydice, Vivaldi and the sacredness of the female body. They all overlap in the end, like folded hands in a painting. It’s a bittersweet tome of love and art.

Personal Problems (1979) – An ode to analog. Almost strange to look at the year this was made and think that. But it’s truly sitting down in the medium and going for it. Going for it with an all-black cast and crew. Bill Gunn and Ishmael Reed choose a scene early on to let you know that this is an insular, black story. And Reed’s actually in the scene. A group of black folks are sitting around a living room, or some room with couches in it, drinking and talking, when the only white dude at the party starts accusing Reed of being an Uncle Tom. Well, he doesn’t use those words exactly, but he’s shown to have made a bad decision coming to this party, the lone white dude, telling black folks how it is. How it is to these black people in New York city, is equal parts tedious and brilliant and lonesome.

Shadow (2018) – No matter what, Zhang Yimou is a visual poet. There are set-pieces in this movie that just murder you with their beauty. So meticulous in movement, yet so free in its imagination. All set to music. In fact, these characters are infected with this forlorn, sting music. It dictates their every step. It helps them figure out new strategies and new survival methods. But it doesn’t help them where it counts the most. Where we know music helps the most. As emotional triumphs. This movie is sad and wet and gray. Double crosses galore. And almost unfollowable at times. You don’t even care who wins in the end. But, there is Zhang Yimou.

Revenge (2017) – The male gaze is magnified. We see it early when Fargeat utilizes the binoculars as a motif. A rotund, Baby Ruth-eating hunter puts the sights on her face and mouth from across the patio table, which leads to more grotesqueness through-out with extreme close-ups. It’s a magnification of the leering man that leads to the most terrible of inevitabilities. But the woman here is Rambo (it’s hard not to make this connection), a Phoenix rising on a hallucinogenic mushroom in a cave, to turn THE GAZE outward, to extricate the phallic, and indeed bring blood like a sacrifice. A sacrifice harkening back to the days of matrilineal mythology.

The Big Heat (1953) – A brutal and cynical movie. The tossing of hot coffee takes on a new art form under Lang’s direction. The point of this film is to disfigure everyone, inside and out. Nobody is untouched by corruption. Again, women get the brunt and the burn of this. Cigarette burns, car explosions and the above hot coffee to the face. Underneath all this hot-male-rage is the casual flippancy toward the female body. And Gloria Graham is the Mother Theresa of the flame.

Lo and Behold: Reveries from the Connected World (2016) – It’s strange to see Hyman Roth show up at the very beginning, a professor at UCLA, one of the progenitors of the Internet. But it’s Werner Herzog. He’s asking whether we’ve asked ourselves certain questions. Like, are we better off with all this information at our fingertips? Herzog at times is treating it like a disease, the information age. And maybe it is. A disease within a disease. If you’re familiar at all with the philosophy of pessimism, then you know that there is the idea that man is nothing more than an aberration. Something akin to a virus. Building and building and building. To what end though? To go to Mars? And set up the internet on Mars? Do whales dream of space-travel?

Akira (1988) – Can you imagine the psychic trauma that two atom bombs dropped on your country elicits? Or induces, really. It induces an epic look inward, to turn that trauma inside out. To imagine a future where nothing has really changed. There’s yet another world war and we’re still dropping fission on each other. And it’s still all about the youth. Adults playing in their militarized world have co-opted some youth with progeria in their quest for power. Upwards of thirty of them, maybe. But we only see three and an elusive Akira. And then a fourth appears, but he’s older and progeria-less. But maybe more powerful than them all. This is where the question is asked of the adults. What exactly are you looking for? What kind of power is enough power? What sort of Pandora’s Box have we opened? Otomo goes all the way back to the beginning. Of everything. ALL THE WAY BACK to the beginning of the universe and the power of amoeba memories. It’s breathtaking and imaginative and fun. And after all these years it still seems to push it to the brink. To look inside and see the wonder of all this ugliness around us.

Hot Rod (2007) – This is a movie that jumps head-long into the man-boy sub-genre of comedy, without any pretenses. Whereas with a film like Punch Drunk Love which “sort of” seeks to elevate said sub-genre, Hot Rod is there to revel in it. It also seeks to point directly at why all these manbabies exist and act as they do. Something to do with not only their Daddies, but their Mama’s as well. It’s no wonder (amazingly so) that Ian McShaine and Sissy Spacek play Rod’s parents. This being the most important part about these manbaby movies. What about the parents?

Last 10

Apr 12 – 19
I’ve stolen this idea from Film Comment. The only thing that’s different is that I’m not a known filmmaker giving you a list of the last ten movies I’ve seen.

The Nice Guys (2016) – “Put a mustache on a Volkswagon and she’d say, wow that Omar Sharif sure can run fast.”

It’s Lou Costello as a mustachioed Gosling in the Porn and Smog days of L.A. Crowe’s Abbott is gone to pudge, and gravel has set in his throat. He’s the mean one, the tough one. I guess it’s always been that way between the two. Costello always finds the trouble. Falling down hills and what not. Always bumbling and falling toward danger, which in turn, somehow lands in success. Costello/Gosling is a man child looking for guidance from a real man, Crowe, who won’t give it. Or he just doesn’t want to give it because who is he to give any guidance, he’s half-crazed with brooding violence. No, it’s left up to Gosling’s daughter to pave the way morally. A familiar trope in Shane Black’s work. It works, again. Youth is what saves us in the end.

Night Moves (2013) – There’s a striking resemblance to Jim Harrison’s book A Good Day to Die. Two men and a woman, eco-terrorists, hatch a plan to blow up a dam and execute it. Harrison’s story was written in the waning days of free love and right smack in the middle of Watergate. Reichardt’s film is somewhere in Oregon 2013. But the politics are the same in both pieces. And the results are pretty much the same. One act that you think will blossom into a new world order, is really only an act of violence that leads to death and ruination. And Reichardt lives in that gloom. She films every scene with the expectation of doom. Harrison’s book ends with the main character getting drunk and lamenting his fate and whether he meant a damn on this earth at all. Here, we’re left with Eisenberg as a zombie joining the workforce yet again, trapped in and endless loop upon someone’s screen.

The Zero Theorem (2013) – Gilliam is a master of messes. His whole career has been one of making miracles out of beautiful confusions. And that’s all here. As soon as Waltz steps outside we’re plunged into a place that could be a kissing cousin to Brazil. The post-industrial mélange of smokestacks and crowded streets and loud colors and non-stop, interactive advertisements. It’s a world of sensory overload designed to crush the worker bee, keep them in place. And the Zero Theorem? Some equation that’s supposed to crack the enigma of life. Or it’s a loop back to nothingness, to before the Big Bang. It just doesn’t seem to coalesce amongst the utter creepiness of Gilliam’s old-man gaze.

The Crimson Kimono (1959) – It’s only fourteen years later and Fuller has the stones to make a movie in LA’s Little Tokyo with a Japanese-American lead. In a town where Japanese folks were bullied and harassed and sent off to internment camps. He tucks this social commentary into a police procedural. But it doesn’t stay tucked-in. The murder they’re trying to solve doesn’t even seem to matter. It’s more about male friendship in a PTS world. Male friendship trying to find a place in the modern world of 1959. Male friendships that exits wholly in the orbit of white-male obliviousness. But even heavier than that is the attention Fuller pays to a Japanese man and a white woman in embrace, in these extremely tight close-ups, that must’ve been an amazing experience on the big screen in 1959.

High Life (2019) – Early on Pattinson’s voiceover likens his memories to trying to out run a virus. He lives in a world where prisoners are sent off into space. A one-way trip to a black hole. But the prisoners don’t seem to know it’s a one-way trip. They’re too busy playing their part in Juliette Binoche’s witchcraft of fluid blendery. At one point she actually refers to herself as a witch. She’s some felonious doctor? Scientist? Conducting some sort of ritual to bring about the first space-baby. Later raping Pattinson in his sleep to get his seed and carry it in her cupped hand toward success in her experiment. (2019 was a very fluid year for Robert, see The Lighthouse). And the thing about memory being a virus you can’t outrun operates here as a massive through-line. Every dark part of us will travel. In fact, maybe that’s what black holes are. The universe’s toilet for all the bad fluids.

Loving Vincent (2017) – To have fit a murder mystery into this great and massive moving Van Gogh painting is mind boggling. But it’s not really a murder mystery. It’s more of a retracing of his last steps. And Van Gogh as a character is sort of on the fringes here. A letter to his dead brother has nowhere to go. But still it goes. Meandering through Northern France trying to land in someone’s hands that has answers to a man’s life and his sickness. It’s just a letter, but often times films are at their best when inculcating a motif. Words are wind, only the pictures remain.

The Town (2010) – There’s something missing here and I don’t know if it’s latent Affleck derision or it just seems to fall flat as a piece. There are some trying too hard and some not enough and some hit it just right. Affleck made his bones playing douchy meatheads. Here he’s trying to turn that into steely-eyed bank robber and I don’t think he’s trying hard enough. Whereas Renner is maybe trying too hard to be a wild card and Hamm is hitting all the right notes. It’s all uneven and Heat-in-Boston-lite.

Guava Island (2019) – Not sure this qualifies as a movie. It’s a 55-minute music video. But it’s wonderous all the same. An island fairy-tale run amok. Donald Glover is bursting with creative energy here. He almost seems possessed at times. Widening his eyes so much throughout this, as if he wants nothing more than to convince you that whatever lives him will surely get out and infect you. And it does.

Hail, Caesar! (2016) – The Tale of The Christ is rest of the title to the big sword and sandal epic Capitol Pictures is making. Instead of The Tale of Christ. As if putting emphasis on Christ is the joke itself here. Brolin plays a studio head/fixer named Mannix. Early on Mannix has a meeting with the top religious leaders to get their approval of his depiction of Christ (who’s only depiction we see is the back of his head, and maybe his feet on the cross). In a funny tangent, none of them can come to agreement on who Christ really is. And the gag is run all the way through to the end, when a production assistant on the set of Hail, Caesar asks the actor playing Jesus on the cross whether he’s a principle or an extra. Extras embodying the body-politic here, can’t be trusted. Jesus embodies both the body-politic and God. Caesar and the Roman Empire as Capitalism. It’s a stunning look into how Capitalism and Religion feed off each other. Because Mannix, the whole movie, is running from one to the other. From the confession booth to Caesar, from religion to capitalism. The 1950’s movie studio system wins in the end. But we all know what’s coming for it in the next decade. Nothing lasts forever.

Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool (2019) – There’s a stark image of Davis at the very beginning of this documentary. He’s staring out of a window on a plane. His broken-glass voice (it so hard to tell if it’s his actual voice or Carl Lumbly’s) states that if you want to be an artist you have to be willing to change. Nobody represents that more than Miles Davis. It was a surprise to learn how he approached every album he made. It was a total collaboration every time. His whole career was standing back and letting other people’s talent lead him/them in whatever directions the music took them.

Last 10

Apr 3 – 11
I’ve stolen this idea from Film Comment. The only thing that’s different is that I’m not a known filmmaker giving you a list of the last ten movies I’ve seen.

RBG (2018) – This woman is something out of the world of Varda. If Varda were Frank Oz and wanted to fashion a mythical elf entering the land of American law. Where she’s a hero because of her patience and intelligence and bravery. Her ability to shift and change to her surroundings for the good of those less fortunate. She was building this tapestry to live by. Something that should’ve been there in the first place. She’s an amazing creation. And we thank you, Universe.

Andrei Rublev (1966) – My first job was at this video store in Dallas, TX. I was fifteen and wanted to be a filmmaker. The store was part of a chain of Blockbuster knock-offs. They had a decent foreign film section. Andrei Rublev was one of those double VHS cassettes. A rubber band holding the two plastic shells together. All the three-hour movies were packaged such. They were daunting, all those three-hour movies, The Godfather Parts One and Two, Reds, Spartacus, Ben-Hur and Gone with the Wind. But you’d seen them somewhere along the way. On TV or maybe a parent had sat you down and said “Watch this!” Andrei Rublev was different. It was Russian and leaning there on that top shelf of the foreign film section, not really caring if you rented it, secure in its place in film history. It was intimidating. Re-shelving Jamon y Jamon, Au Revoir Les Enfants, Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down and Man Bites Dog every week, yet Tarkovsky’s first masterpiece sat there untouched. I was fifteen, sixteen years old and knew I wouldn’t understand it. I would look at the cover box and wonder. And so, it went. I moved on to work about a thousand more jobs and the chain of video stores closed down. The whole movie watching industry and changed a handful of times and still I had not watched Andrei Rublev. Until now, twenty-seven years later. All three hours of it and I still don’t know what I watched. But I do know it was great.

Hell or High Water (2016) – Lord of the plains, that’s me. That’s the trick this movie plays on you, so deftly. It’s such a satisfying piece of work. A modern-day Jesse and Frank James tale. Robbing from the rich to give to the poor. But the poor being themselves and the land that they’re trying to keep is an imaginary prop for us as humans to worry about for thousands of years. The Comanches used to roam the plains. Did they think the land was theirs? Most definitely. Just like the white man felt when they wiped them out. Where ever your foot lands, humans think to roam. That’s the true sickness of human beings. Not being poor. No, the true disease is the idea of ownership.

Cop Car (2015) – The movie really starts to sing when Bacon arrives. The two kids marching through the prairie finding the cop car at the beginning is pastoral and picturesque and all I could think about was Eastwood’s A Perfect World. Something about children discovering the world of criminal adults against wide blue skies, dotted with puffy cumulus clouds, seems wholly American. But at some point, the day turns to night and the children learn that there’s no one out there to help them. Adults can’t be counted on. No one’s out there.

Dragged Across Concrete (2019) – Every scene is a tightly bored hole into the brain. Nothing drags but just seems to corkscrew its way to rot. We’re talking about systems here. Dysfunctional and corrupt systems that pit foes against each other. Racism and a bigotry toward change runs through these systems like its life blood. Violence as a vernacular, bops through these characters like their clipped dialogue. A bank robbery serves a magnet for the thin blue line. Drawing two black friends who’ve shared a criminal past together, and two crooked, white cops. The line gets skewed with black guys in white-face and white guys in black face. We all just want that pot of gold. The white cops seem to have the privilege and the advantage. They almost seem worn down by it too. Gibson and Vaughn are good and weary here, pushed into a corner by modernity. But the true gold here is Kittles and Jai White. Characters in way over their heads, they bring a humanism and grace to these OG’s. And Kittles in the end is the man hunting the lions.

Downsizing (2017) – There’s a Kubrickian montage about thirty minutes into this that veers towards a Full Metal Jacket/Clockwork Orange amalgam, but then it comes back around to pure Gilliamville when Matt Damon’s five-inch body is scooped up by a spatula from an oversized gurney. And things seem listless after the downsizing. The metaphor stalls out until Hong Chau’s (she’s absolutely amazing here) character shows up and everyone seems to find themselves wrapped up in her world. A world that still needs tending, regardless of the impending doom of rising waters.

Targets (1968) – Has there been a better movie about Charles Whitman? Is there even a movie about Charles Whitman? What a subversive piece of work from Bogdanovich. And it’s his first film! He’s got to make a movie with Boris Karloff wherein the footage from another Karloff movie, The Terror, has to be used. It’s a Corman Conundrum. But Bogdanovich manages to couch in two threads running along parallel lines that eventually converge. A truly melancholy dissertation on growing old in Hollywood and the industry’s total obliviousness to anything other than what’s filling their wallets. And then there’s the subtle psychological arc that he builds with the O’Kelly character. The scenes of him roaming around his house, building towards this terror are truly unnerving. And that ending with Karloff on the screen and the Karloff in real live stomping towards him at a drive-in movie is so cathartically pulp.

From Russia With Love (1964) – Bond has sex with four women inside the first hour of this movie. And a threesome to boot. This character is a syphilitic mess (Alan Moore deserves credit here). No wonder Spectre wants him dead. And they bait him with a pretty woman. It’s blatant and it works. Then they send in the heavy hitter. A young and monstrous Robert Shaw. Early on, Shaw stands bare-chested, at attention and gets sucker-punched in the stomach by a nasty, little Russian lady wearing brass knuckles and nary a flinch. That’s the test. That’s it. He passed. Shaw goes on to follow Bond around, even saving his life, so they can have this epic fight on a train. Really one of the best fights ever to be put on film. America wins. Sorry Russia.

In the Mouth of Madness (1994) – L. Ron Hubbard wrote a book called Excalibur. He claimed a man read it once and flung himself out a fourth-story window. He had to go bury it in the desert afterwards. The thought that the written word could induce such mania is nothing new. Carpenter uses the Lovecraft mythos (has anyone been more omnipresent in horror movies than Lovecraft? Anyone with longer tentacles?) as his engine to push this slick, horror movie down our ready throats. Is it the hubris of writers that Carpenter’s taking a fun poke at? The idea that writers are the creators of known realities. Could be true. What we know of history is all written word. But then again there were oral histories as well. And those tales have all but vanished over the years. The tales of the Old Gods faded during the transition. But in this movie, they’re back with a mouthpiece to spread their cosmic horror of pessimistic decay. Who would’ve thought somebody like Stephen King would rule the world some day?

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse (2018) – Great Expectations features pretty large here as a foundation for a pop-art bildungsroman. A fancy word for a coming-of-age story. But that’s sort of a reduction to the word. Because the word exudes epic. An epic coming-of-age story, where a sensitive soul goes out into the world with… great expectations. And this movie builds on that foundation, and builds and builds and builds, until Miles Morales’ story becomes something more than an epic tale of finding yourself. It becomes more of a fable. A legend wrapped up in quantum physics and multiple causalities. The new, modern bildungsroman.

Last 10

Mar 24 – Apr 2  2020
I’ve stolen this idea from Film Comment. The only thing that’s different is that I’m not a known filmmaker giving you a list of the last ten movies I’ve seen.

 

Pawn Sacrifice (2015) – Tobey Maguire has never been better. Tapping into some of that Brothers intensity. It’s a beautifully cold and calculated movie, with this schizophrenic, chess-genius-brat at the center of Cold War pride run amok. But Bobby Fischer wasn’t having any of it. The politics oozes out of every pour but he was in his own bag. A bag of imagined or unimagined voices and sounds and slights. It was him against the world, not just the Russians.

Hardcore (1979) – There’s scene early on when Peter Boyle’s slimier-than-a-hot-lugy private-eye shows George C Scott a porno film that features his daughter. He sits in this ratty, little screening room and the light of the screen whitens his face. Schrader keeps cutting back to him and we see him contort and melt before our eyes. It’s anathema to what the silver screen has produced in us throughout the ages. Not a knock against porn, but Schrader is subverting your expectations of what the experience can be for that character, and in a sense send you down this rabbit hole of religious and familial despair in Los Angeles.

Hellboy (2019) – Mike Mignola’s Wild Hunt finally gives you the goods in the “Who is Hellboy, really?” question. And Neil Marshall aims to please by adapting this Mignola story and bringing his metalocalypse-style of filmmaking to the Hellboy world. Obviously, it’s a different tone than Del Toro, whose filmmaking has a more classic feel to it and his creatures are more tactile and live in. Marshall relies heavily on CGI and his filmmaking motor. But it works and David Harbour is just as fun as Perlman but with a little more vulnerability.

Mid90’s (2019) – The decision to shoot at that ratio and use natural light works on you at a couple different levels. It gives you that camcorder feeling of all those skate videos that came out in the late 80’s and in through the nineties. And Jonah Hill gives you this lived in feeling of that era in Southern California. The other thing it does is give you this real hemmed in feeling. The world is small to these kids. Where they live and where they skate is all they know. And what they know is hard and silent and rough and violent. The aspect ratio helps you live in that trimmed in feeling with the characters. Helping with the feeling that these kids are on the fringe. And that’s what is so great about this film. It’s willingness to be small to be big.

Between Two Ferns (2019) – This is just sort of a road show to let everyone know how cool everyone is in Hollywood. Look, they can take jokes. They’re funny jokes, don’t get me wrong, but there’s not much here other than lambasting the very system you’re profiting from and are a part of. I guess that’s the point as Galiafanakas walks away from it all at the end. Is that secretly what all people in the entertainment world want, to walk away, live a normal life? I think that’s what they want the audience to believe. That it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. But the money’s too good, right?

Mandy (2018) – George Miller lives at the heart of this movie. Mad Max in the Crystal Mountains. It’s an easy correlation. Those people on the four-wheelers. Yeah, those guys. Those guys/gals in their BDSM gear tearing around the woods listening for their next Horn of Acid-Inducing-Apocalyptic-Visions. Yeah, those guys. Those guys are easy to draw a line to Miller. The tone and time as well. But there’s something lived-in-Cosmatos that breaths through everything else. The 80’s, with Reagen on the radio and the dooming thoughts of his fingers on the nuclear buttons. There were terrible things stalking around in those woods. Thing’s worse than Satan. There was left-over LSD and wayward cults from the 70’s just floating around like invasive fog. People worse than those four-wheeler fucks. Religious zealots all twisted up inside and they make those acid-freaks look like boy-scouts. And at the heart them is a man whose worst fear is woman laughing at him.

The Nightingale (2019) – Bloody white men. A welcome refrain from the black character Billy. They’re sitting by the fire, he and Clare, an Irish convict, comparing their hates for the English. Both of them have plenty of it and all of it is righteous. So, much righteous hate to fill up a humdinger of a revenge flick. And it starts out that way. A stalking, angry thing with satisfaction and blood just around the corner. But something happens to the main character Clare. She’s a real person. A real woman that’s seen and had terrible things done to her. She reacts to it how most traumatized would react. She’s haunted by it and has wild mood swings and second-thoughts on revenge. Her emotions run the gamut. Naturally. This is rare in a revenge-minded movie. Often. it’s the single dogged emotion of payback. That’s why the genre is so satisfying. But here the trauma is shared and there are moments of reflection and ownership when Clare’s relationship with Billy grows into a strained-buddy-movie. Two people, a black man and an Irish woman, looking for justice, not revenge.

Love Is Colder Than Death (1969) – Everything is colder in this movie than death. The way people speak to each other, the way people treat each other, it’s all cold German cruelty. Or the mimicking of cold American gangsterism. Either way, women get the worst of it in both. But Fassbender is just scratching the surface of what he wants to do here.

Kissing Them Softly (2012) – George Higgins writes about crime as trickle-down economics. An underworld that mirrors the real world. There’s not much difference between the two but what the law allows. People operate they’re money making schemes along the same parabolas. Corporations run by committee. The same back and forth on what’s the best deal. What’s the most cost-effective route? Dominik uses the 2008 recession/election as not so much as a backdrop but as an injection into the narrative framework. It plays on every radio and TV you hear. It’s this thing looming there. Big Business. And do guys like Jackie Coogan care? Guys that shadow in the underworld. Do they care about economic doom? Well, somewhat. There’s the trickle-down thing right. Everything’s connected. But he’s not buying that we’re all in it together. Because, like he says at the end, America’s a business and here you’re on your own.

Jay and Silent Bob Reboot (2019) – Kevin Smith knows his career in Hollywood is an anomaly. He tries hard, visually, but it’s just not there for him. He worked with Robert Yeoman on Dogma and maybe that’s Smith’s best movie. But then he worked with Vilmos Zigmond on Jersey Girl which is mind-boggling to say the least. Here he’s just as flat as ever and rubbing your face in it. A few laughs aside. It pays to be good at self-marketing.

Last 10

Mar 3 – 23 2020

I’ve stolen this idea from Film Comment. The only thing that’s different is that I’m not a known filmmaker giving you a list of the last ten movies I’ve seen,

Judex (1963) – Such a strange film with everything you’d ever want in a weird kind of quiet maelstrom. Jim Jarmusch must’ve watched this a hundred times. It’s got this dour playfulness to it. A seemingly evil, rich man who came by his money nefariously, obviously. A woman who works as the help plans a daring heist. A noble ball held where all the attendees wear bird masks. An underground layer and magic mirrors. In the end it’s about the failure of capitalism. Strange, huh.

The Invisible Man (2020) – Elizabeth Moss is constantly climbing in this movie. Over walls and up ladders to plant an envelope on top of a book case or into a dark attic to discover her boyfriend really isn’t dead but invisible. She’s crawling out of this mental abyss, trying to discover a reality where people believe the things she says she’s going through. Cause nobody knows what goes on behind closed doors. In fact, we use the phrase, behind closed doors, as way to ignore things like domestic terrorism. We chose not to see these things. What goes on between a man and a woman in a relationship is their business. It’s a great metaphor to be sewn into this Sci-Fi/Terror/Horror mash-up.

The Standoff at Sparrow Creek (2018) – Most of this seems like an inscrutable mess. A pitch-black noir where no one and nothing makes sense. Which is right where you wanna be when watching noir. Prairie Noir, or Rural Michigan Noir. Or yet a new sub-species; Militia Noir. It’s a richly put together film. Every shot is assured and every cut is Coen-esque. Everything means something here. It’s a meticulous time piece attached to the core of the militant white male. Cops and militiamen, where’s the line that separates them? Who’s who in that dark warehouse?

Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) – Interesting position they put Vera Farmiga in. Is she with the bad guy Charles Dance? Is he even a bad guy? Maybe he’s an environmentalist, looking to right the Earth ship by unleashing Myth on the globe. Not a bad idea, really, but with a lot of these tentpoles the ideas load up in the sink and when you’re too far down the road to course correct and the only thing left to do is throw it all in, including the sink. Hence, the journey through Atlantis towards the end and King Gidorah being otherworldly. And I’m tempted to say it all somehow works, but I won’t. It might all work, even Bradley Whitford’s snarky one-liners.

Homicide (1990) – It’s Mamet’s best film. Bobby Gold his best character. What are you when you’re all alone in the world? You’re that lone wolf cop and what you would call your family is a bunch of other cops. Guys who just wanna get the bad guy. But who’s the bad guy here? Black guys selling drugs? Downtown Jews with deep pockets? Neither. It’s a mystical cop movie about Jewish resistance. Or about what it is to buy into something too late. To see what you want to see and then find out it was just your usage that was needed. It’s a movie about life and being alone in the world. Because what are you without your tribe? What are you without your mother’s belief in you? Maybe the answers to some of those questions have to with the systems we’ve built. The systems we’ve built that twist us up and make us work against each other. The great American tragedy.

The Rover (2014) – You just know there’s something in the car. He’s not doing all this, going through all this, just for the senseless barbarism of it all. But for most of the movie, that’s exactly what it is about. Testing the boundaries of intellect? Pattinson plays his character on the very edge of a person “touched in the head”. It’s an amazing performance. Whereas Pierce plays his character like some mangy, rabid dog whose biscuits have been stolen. Is it devolution after the “Collapse” (that’s all we’re given for the dystopian set-up)? Yes. I suppose that’s the point of every dystopian story. Testing the boundaries of civilized human beings.

The Beach Bum (2019) – There are times where you are completely stunned(stoned) by the filmmaking. And then there are times where you’re left completely befuddled by some of the choices made. It’s amazing to see Korinne find a pocket in the cinema of weird he’s branded, that’s equal parts pop-accessible and oddly quirky. He’s made two films in the wilds of Florida and I hope he makes a trilogy out of it.

In the Mood for Love (2000) – It doesn’t seem like anybody’s in the mood for anything put posing in this movie, much less for love. This was a thought that kept hitting me while watching this. And what beautiful posing. But then it hit me. They’re both trying to be loyal to something that’s totally ripping them apart. And they seem to be flies trapped in a jar for most of the movie. Living in a strange flat that seems to defy any kind of layout I’ve ever seen. It’s often confusing to try and figure out who lives where and what is shared space. And the characters only seem to be going through the motions.

Shutter Island (2010) – This is dealing with postwar fallout and the advent of the hydrogen bomb, and the mass psychological hysteria that follows. Our culture was changed after the Second World War. We dropped two bombs on Japan as a message. A message that said we had the capability to obliterate the human race. That act of violence on such a large scale defies logic. Whatever logic exists after such an extinction level incident. And that’s what lies underneath this movie. The threat of violence. Ted Levine shows up toward the end as the warden and he’s equal shades Kurtz and Judge Holden, proselytizing the one true gift from God. Violence.

It Comes at Night (2017) – This movie hits like a ton of bricks right now. Currently writing this in a city under quarantine. The utter madness of being in a situation where you have no idea what is going on. What is true and what is false? Who do you trust? It’s a massive tome to paranoia and a movie that could serve as a guide to social distancing.

Last 10

Last 10
Feb 3 – Feb 28

I’ve stolen this idea from Film Comment. The only thing that’s different is that I’m not a known filmmaker giving you a list of the last ten movies I’ve seen.

Ford vs Ferrari (2019) – Tracy Letts and Josh Lucas play Ford Demi-Gods. They eat souls and shit out salami and cheese and wonder bread sandwiches. You can see they’re mutual emptiness in the shake of Letts jowls as he turns his head toward Damon’s Shelby and says nothing. He doesn’t need to, he’s said it all with his emptiness. You can see it in the too blue eyes of Lucas, which seems to have no room for the sclera, as he tell Bale’s Miles to ask his son not to touch the new Mustang. They engulf everything they come in contact with, even war. But there is this little race with these big motors they can’t quite digest. Mangold is a master here. From the very first shot you’re gripped like a vise and never let go with his angles and compositions. It’s a movie to behold and go back to again and again.

Marriage Story (2019) – There’s that scene towards the end. It’s the one everyone talks about who’s seen the movie. Where they burn each other to the ground with searing, gut-emptying brutality. You can’t help but cry with them. To feel that body-shuddering finality of love. That scene encapsulates all we know of love. To know someone enough to love them so much will one day lead to this melting, muck of mutilation. You can only do this to someone you know so well. You can only do this to someone you’ve projected everything in your bowels onto. It’s really you you’re trying to tear down. And hopefully you can recognize this and a small tendril of growth will root forth and you’ll get to a place where you’ll still want smile at this person and make sure they’re shoe is tied.

Color Out of Space (2019) – Cosmic Horror in Pink! This movie does more for contaminated water and it’s destructive affects on human DNA than any Erin Brockavitch or A Civil Action or Dark Waters could ever dream of in technoscope. While it’s way more colorful I’m sure it never reaches the emotional depths those previously mentioned. But it tries. It’s tries with another loopy performance from Nic Cage which in turn curls itself around everyone else in the film and seems to scare them into frightful performances the end it crashing sounds and light.

King of New York (1990) – Schooly D asks Are you black as me? Frank White would think he’s inclusive enough to say so. Hip/Hop is so intertwined in this movie, it’s the first of its kind. The first Hip/Hop gangster movie and Fishburne is its gobsmacking heart. And Walken is its NASferatu. He’s a vampire, lit in blue, melancholy light, dancing around with a nine-millimeter shooting ancient Italian gangsters, bringing in the new school and flattening rogue cops. It’s a truly Gothic delight.

Toni Morrison : The Pieces I Am (2019) – She says something towards the end, an interview with Charlie Rose, I think, asking him to examine himself without the benefit of propping himself up with race. Where would he be then? Where would all white people be without the subjugation of others? It’s the only question that needs to be asked.

The Gentleman (2019) – McConaughy is a lion of an Oklahoma weed gangster in London. The insights into his business and its logistics and what it’s future holds is the most fascinating thing here. And everyone is giving their all and Ritchie’s just really good at this. And it’s definitely a time for some filmmakers to make movies where they examine their own work.

The Laundromat (2019) – Meryl Streep’s walk. I don’t know if I’ve never noticed her walk before or it’s just been so long since she’s been in a movie where she’s walked. Has she been sitting down in movies for years now? Or is it just Soderberg’s camera hanging back and letting us watch Streep move and act. Giving her a shotgun and walking into an office and blasting the place up. It’s just spellbinding and a pleasure to see her move in a loose, saddened way. Someone who’s tired of it all. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen her this way. She’s such a brilliant actor.

The Longshot (2019) – I am worthy of love. The unyielding, bearded guy who dresses like he’s in seventh grade is given this mantra by his friend, who’s black and a Republican. He’s given the mantra because Oh yeah, Charlize Theron is Secretary of State looking at a run on the presidency. It’s all very ridiculous,but somehow, that simple mantra grounds the damn thing and you go flying along with it. It helps that Theron is so good in a roll you don’t see at all for women these days. A woman who rediscovers what she stands for on a political stage. A powerful, funny, thoughtful woman as President is just too much for us now, though.

The Breaking Point (1950) – One of the most haunting endings. A little black boy left alone on a dock, waiting for his father. His father being the first mate on this little boat this white guy owns for like three seconds before creditors and criminals crawl out of the swamp trying to sink him in some Florida Everglades. The first mate is just a stupid casualty at the end of a gangster’s fun. The movie’s not about him per se, but in the end we’re left wondering what his life is really worth.

Domino (2019) – It happens early on when Jamie Lannister is in bed with a girl and his phone rings and he gets out of bed to answer it. It’s a shot that looks like the camera is set up in a loft, looking slightly down. DePalma zooms in ever so slowly. And you know immediately it’s a DePalma film. The shot ends, close on Jaime’s gun, which he leaves in his apartment and dutifully becomes the first domino. You’re welcome, says DePalma.

Last 10

Jan 2 – 27

I’ve stolen this idea from Film Comment. The only thing that’s different is that I’m not a known filmmaker giving you a list of the last ten movies I’ve seen.

Uncut Gems (2019) – The Safdie Brothers are anxiety pilers. They have this gift of imagining everything that could possibly go wrong in a given moment and then piling them all in one room and then milking these moment until the utter is bone dry. They have a gift for this type of filmmaking. And it’s rare to walk out of a movie with your guts still in a twist. But underneath all that high anxiety is a clever burrowing in on what unchecked capitalism does to some folks. An African stone starts all this. The wonders of the universe lie with in it. But the mechanics and logistics to bring it forth and the outcome that follows isn’t worth it. Only death follows. And who suffers the most? Africans, Jews, Armenians and a sly little nod toward Native Americans with the casino at the end. It’s just not a rock to some.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) – There really is no telling what the fuck is going on here, yet I found myself midway through not really giving a shit. When Poe and Finn are running around some ship on some mission bantering back and forth, I thought to myself, this is what I want, more Oscar Isaac and John Boyega. It’s a pity sometimes to be so fascinated by something like The Force when the real pleasure comes from the frantic pacing and straight-faced chummery of a well done space opera.

Django Unchained (2013) – It’s QT’s most satisfying film. He sticks with Django throughout, jumping around very little. Some occasional flashbacks but for the most part just a fantastic grudge of dental work. Being inspired by German Folklore into heroism Django and the good doctor service a loud and bloody and brutal root canal to not just Calvan Candie but to whole institution of slavery.

The Tenant (1976) – Wherein we see Polanski turn into a woman. Or be possessed by one. I wondered while watching this again, probably like everyone familiar with the man’s story, that maybe this was some sort of sordid attempt by Polanski to deal with Sharon Tate’s death and the aftermath of fleeing America as a pedophile. How does he really go into himself and take a gander at things? By making everyone in the movie a bully and American to boot. Shades of Elia Kazan and On the Waterfront indeed.

Alien (1979) – This movie is in a constant state of penetration. So much so, that there’s an explosion of milky, whiteness toward the end, from a woman-hating android. Ripley is what? The modern woman? The modern space-woman. And what does she find in space? Maybe the root of all penetrating evil. Man’s unending tinkering with shit.

Aliens (1986) – For a minute there you think this movie might be about trauma and somehow dealing with it. But it quickly takes you inside this Heinlein-like hoorah of militaristic lampoonishness. Bill Paxton leading the way with such a deft performance of a dopey, gung-ho mercenary turned inside-out by this ultimate killing machine. It’s an evisceration of violent manly norms. Then again this could be about healing from trauma by just piling more trauma. Does Ripley ever get a break?

Alien 3 (1992) – Ripley gets laid! I mean, how long’s it been? A hundred years? She’s been floating around in space for at least that long and the closest she ever got was a little flirting with Hicks. But here she crashes on a prison planet, Newt and Hicks not making it by the way, and inside two days she’s banging Tywin Lannister. And I do not blame her one fucking bit, cause the rest of the movie is not so much garbage but refuse of doubt from the two previous films.

Booksmart (2019) – All these kids are so smart and funny it makes you wanna just keep growing old and die. Let them have this world, they’ll make it better for sure. Olivia Wilde comes to the table with such an assured handle it’s just amazing. A great kinetic piece of pop, coming-of-age comedy.

Inception (2010) – Projections run amok. All in service to change a memory. We’re left with a totem that never topples. Just spinning away in Leo’s head. It’s an idea that never falters, just like the driving efficiency of this movie. An epic Escher painting compounded to an nth degree of superfluous dream logic. A propelling force this movie. The ego’s momentum writ large. In the end it’s just all about what past you can live with.

Upgrade (2018) – The terrors of technology. It’s pretty simple isn’t it. There’s always a price to pay for the ability to walk again. To have a voice inside your head egging you on. This is disability porn at its finest.

Last 10

Last 10

Nov 1 – Dec 28

I’ve stolen this idea from Film Comment. The only thing that’s different is that I’m not a known filmmaker giving you a list of the last ten movies I’ve seen.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1979) -Watching it this time around I zeroed in on Nimoy’s character. This psychoanalyst who seems to have his finger on the popular pulse of the people. A perfect tool for the pod people. Someone with these great rational tools to soothe away every concern. Therapy as an opiate for the masses. A book by the man as the tool to send us into oblivion. There’s a lot of snark in all this. Donald Sutherland as this impossible health inspector. Is it a caper or a rat turd?

The Lighthouse (2019)- Robert Pattinson needs to get laid. Instead he takes a job at a lighthouse on a lonely little island somewhere in the middle of the ocean where Willem Dafoe sounds like a pirate in a black and white movie shot in 16:9. It’s all terrible liquids and horrible sounds. One sound re-occurring over and over again, a loud, ancient mariner’s horn that somehow gets in sync with Dafoe’s farts. A looney humor crowds every scene. It’s Eraserhead by Way of William Golding’s Pincher Martin. But instead of a dark industrial wasteland it’s a man’s sexual lust gone to rot on cold rock in the ocean. There’s masturbation to a carved mermaid trinket, which leads to an amazingly electric montage of sexual desire and repression. Sex with a mermaid and death to former partners all mixed in with a Lovecraftian creature that may or may not be … doing something with Dafoe in the Lighthouse. It’s goop(or semen) drips down on Pattinson. Who isn’t allowed at the top to see the light. It makes you think of the white man’s zany lunacy to conquer everything and end up alone on an island with nobody to fuck. Seems apt for our times.

Mean Streets (1973)- Kietel’s voice is Scorsese’s voice from the very beginning. The opening line, “If you don’t make up for your sins in church, you do it in the streets…” is a running mantra. Kietel’s in that bar saturated with red light, some hell on earth, a place for monsters. Where people get riddled with bullets and keep on coming for you. Scorsese put his life and soul into this and in moviegoing terms that always hold up. It feels like an explosion of filmmaking readiness. And the one thing that stuck out to me was that this movie is a prism of montage. All the jump cuts and not so long after the Nouvelle Vague. Scorsese is known for this encyclopedic knowledge. Here you see an indebtedness to the French and Italian film and The Searchers makes an actual appearance. It’s a movie geeks movie. He even puts himself in it and shoots the car up to end the movie. Pretty geeky.

Seconds (1966) – This is a preposterous movie. $30,000 dollars is all this company asks to turn you from a plain looking sixties-something bank exec to a Rock Hudson painter living in Malibu. And what do they get out of it? I don’t really know. The opportunity to play God? Frankenhiemer isn’t afraid to goose your gander either. He plays it full-tilt, shoving camera’s in people’s faces and generally making this film seem like a claustrophobic elevator ride. And it works!

The Irishman (2019) – The Forrest Gump of gangster movies. The pace of this 3 1/2 hour movie throws you off at first. It’s not the energy of Goodfellas and Casino. It’s the pace of Kundun and Silence. It’s a languid piece that could go on forever because everyone in it is driving at such a slow pace, taking it all in and giving such nuanced and simply gestured responses. It’s hard not to be enthralled by Scorsese and his ensemble. They’re transcending the genre by just sitting in it and letting the stew simmer. It’s like Melville with Le Cercle Rouge. A master playing with a genre he knows so well.

Knives Out (2019) – When Benoit Blanc makes Marta his Watson you know the joke is going to be on everyone but Marta. And rightfully so. Everything and everyone is skewered here. Except LaKeith Stansfield. Who’s more of an audience member, furling his brow whenever someone says something questionable or obtuse. You could see this as a take down of the white aristocracy, exposing it for what it is, a rotten husk going the way of the Dodo. But Johnson slips something in at the end that should have more lasting power. This thing you have is only newly bought. And people will always be fighting over it, whether it’s your offspring or someone elses.

The Joker (2019) – It’s inscrutable and inexplicable. What exactly is this movie? Is it about mental health under the guise of super-villain movie? Possibly. But it’s pointing its finger in a vague direction. A rich man running for mayor. He calls the lower class clowns. Perfect. But cheap. The Joker wants to see chaos because he can’t control anything. No one thinks he’s funny. Pretty deep stuff. It maybe that’s all it takes for a crazy person.

The Last Black Man in San Francisco (2018) – Everything is tied up in manhood. Or, what we’re taught manhood to be. What it encompasses. A house, a job, a woman. It’s what’s expected of a man. He should be stoic and calm under pressure. He shouldn’t be too sensitive. Male friendship should be a certain thing too. But the world is different now. Or maybe it’s been that way and it’s just looked at and filtered differently. This movie is one of those filters. It’s an emotional mess(in a good way) that’s grappling with the almost futile system some of us live in. A modern America that’s a quicksand of doubt, frustration and too much black and white instead of gray. There’s a real Spike Lee vibe from the very beginning. And it holds up with the influence with a unique social awareness like Spike’s best movies. It’s a movie with a big moving heart that ends just as ambiguous as this weird land.

The Duke of Burgundy (2015) – This is gothic and moving in an early Boorman meets Lynchian kind of way. But there’s not a man in sight. It exists in a vague world of the 60’s, somewhere in Europe?? You look up the location on IMDB and it says they filmed it in Hungary. It could be Mississippi it’s so green and lush with butterflies. And it has that Southern gloominess. But it’s speaking to you from a place of entrapment. Where we all go when we’ve reached a certain place in a relationship and we don’t know how to fix it. Or give the other person what they truly want.

The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996) – In watching this after probably not seeing it in 20 years I realized that I’m writing a novel where the main character is pretty much Charlie Baltimore. But a dude instead of a woman. The thing is, I don’t have the balls that Shane Black has. And I don’t remember this film having any kind of affect on my movie-going brain. I don’t remember the ease of coolness that permeates from Sam Jackson’s aura. The repartee between he and Geena Davis is so relaxed and lived in. Only Shane Black can do this. I’m jealous.

Last 10

Last 10

Sept 20 – Oct 31

I’ve stolen this idea from Film Comment. The only thing that’s different is that I’m not a known filmmaker giving you a list of the last ten movies I’ve seen.

Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindlewald – David Yates is the Terence Fisher of Potterville. And Potterville seems a universe built on closeted emotions and an unwillingness to name them. If only Jude Law as Dumbledore could name his lover in Johnny Depp’s Grindlewald, then maybe all this black magic wouldn’t have a place in this world. Is that what it is? Is evil just repression. I’m not quite sure the movie is asking that though. Maybe it will in the third one.

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch – This was very tiring. To be given the responsibility to make your own decisions in a movie is something I never thought I wanted. And I didn’t want it and don’t want it. Please give me the decisions you’ve made and just let me critique them. That’s all. Don’t make me do the work.

Ad Astra – “We’re all we have.” It’s something you learn by only going on a trip to Neptune. It’s a mesmerizing slide through our solar system. It starts off with an insane fall to earth and continues with with this almost sinister relentlessness for most of the movie. You always get this feeling with James Gray that he’s got something to prove. And he’s constantly proving it. Whatever it is. Whatever genre he’s chosen to make a movie in, he’s constantly proving his expert subversion of it. This film is set up as an adventure through space, albeit an ominous and serious one, but time is all relative in this story. The rigors of space travel aren’t that rigorous here. No one goes to sleep in this movie. The idea of cryogenic sleep is non-existent. Because the male ego has no time for sleep. It must act and build upon those acts until he has a tower of regret constructed in orbit off Neptune. There’s no time for self-reflection or putting a mirror to inner turmoil. You must do or do not.

Memories of Murder – People are forever falling down in this movie. Bong Ho has a strange and goofy sense of humor. Cops are falling down embankments at crime scenes at first. Then down stairs that lead into an interrogation room. It’s as if the only way forward is down with nervous bumbling. And stumbling and bumbling we go. Into futility and bureaucratic numbskullery. This movie has a lot in common with Zodiac. Not just the real-life ties but just the sheer ineptitude of fragile male egos. Who’s gonna get there first? None of us and a killer goes free.

Rosemary’s Baby – There’s a shot early on in an elevator looking over Farrow and Cassavete’s shoulders, Elisha Cook in the background but in focus. It doesn’t seem like much but it’s a humdinger to me. The elevator moves upward and you’re made very aware it’s just a set piece, yet it draws you in like some ancient and intimate theater piece. And there’s that elevator operator, a black man, smiling at all these white on their way up or down, you can’t tell which way they’re going really, but you know where.

El Camino – This was nothing like visiting the old folks home of Deadwood. It’s more like visiting a trauma victim. Someone you were cringing for and wishing for some other ending. An ending that brings some sort of contentment to all involved. Jesse Pinkman is a prisoner through all of this. Through the TV show and much of this movie. Prisoner of addiction, wrongheadedness and most of all Walter White and whatever his machinations wrought. And we finally get to see Jesse navigate it on his own and do it his way.

Third Murder – “These days victims think they can get away with anything.” Koreeda, instead of being interested in the mystery, seems to be more concerned with the realities we weave for ourselves that outsiders would call lies. Maybe there is no truth outside our own bubble.

Parasite – Here’s Bong Ho again with some deep sardonicism. Class warfare this time where the lower depths brim with creativity and ambition and the rich are trusting with despair. There’s levels within levels within levels here and Bong directs this with such visual poetry. He’s got all the right moves here . And there’s not a level here that you can play on and leave feeling good about oneself. Underneath all this “underneath” is a language most of us refused to learn early on and now we’re playing catch up and there’s no guarantee we’ll figure it out in the end.

In the Shadow of the Moon – I thought about two movies when watching this. Both 90’s movies. There’s the opening shot that reminds you of the Fight Club ending, and the totally bonkers, time-travel-thing-that-never-really-gets-hashed-out premise makes you think of 12 Monkeys. The idea of time as a circle, doesn’t click emotionally though, like it does in Monkeys. It’s got style and Bokeem Woodbine with a chew stick in his mouth(somebody’s a fan of the old Roots bassist. The movie is set in Philly)at some point but that’s all it is, style.

Suspiria – Rainy Berlin. I’ve never been. Only in Fassbender’s movies have I seen it. But this movie has the hindsight of past events. And it uses it to infuse a political landscape into this remake. Germany in Autumn. The guilt of the past is grotesque and blood soaked and what are we to do with it. Learn from it? Maybe the past is not a teacher. Maybe it’s ever-reaching and aware that it’s all anyone has. Terrible memories are only right now.

Last 10

The Night Comes For Us – Indonesia is where it’s at for modern martial-arts movies. There’s a John Woo vibe going here but without the operatic grace. This is more crunching bone and sliced tendons than surfing balustrades and cool gun play. So much so, that the gore starts to make you wonder what it is about violent movies that you love so much. Is it just an aesthetic of primal urges? Is it a form of therapeutic catharsis? Or is it just fun to watch because we’re crazed creatures? I don’t know. Maybe it just flickers on the screen faster.

Once Upon A Time … In Hollywood – The above brooding kind of leads into this one. It doesn’t seem like it until the very end, but this movie is about violence as wish fulfillment. And about how viewing it has a different meaning for everyone. This is Tarantino’s most DePalma film yet. It’s a mushy mash of nostalgia. Where’s the Pino Dinaggio score? Instead we have the interconnectiveness of the radio. Tarantino is forever trying to save the world with film and its Jungian rabbit hole of church and resurrection. TV’s are always on everywhere as well, their soundtracks are the movies soundtracks. The big thing missing. Phones. One gets brutally murdered by Cliff Booth and a Manson lady’s head. As if to say the phone has dusted us down the wrong fork in the road. Disconnected us when it was supposed to connect us like film. And hey, TV might just be rotting the brain. Ask those Manson killers where they learned to kill. You can actually see Tarantino grinning like a loon behind every frame. His most DePalma film yet. Just look at the very end. A sick, sardonic joke that gives the protagonist exactly what he wishes for. Maybe a role in the next Roman Polanski movie. Now, that’s just sick

Widows – I saw this after we all found out Liam Neeson was a a weird, violent, Irish racist. (He’d be a perfect Dudley Smith.) And here he kind of plays him in a Chicago thief offshoot. It’s Set It Off with a careful and concise filmmaker behind the camera. And Viola Davis is about as stone-faced and hard-boiled as you can get in a straight ahead crime drama.

Colossal – Not sure I quite buy this towards the end. Midway through we find out that Hathaway isn’t quite the monster she’s making herself out to be. Because there’s a more terrible monster in Sudaikus. Is that what we take away from this? There’s always someone more fucked up than you? Or is this movie really about Korean Cinema in some way? Some weird ventriloquist dance going on between American and Korean cinema? Nah, it’s probably just about reconciliation.

Aquaman – I was blown away by the Lovecraftian vibe of this movie as much as anyone else. I mean, this is Aquaman not Hellboy. It takes some belief in artistry(or desperation) to let a filmmaker like James Wan do whatever he wants and get bug-fucking-nuts with super hero movie like this. It’s all over the place and nonsensical but they never waver and that’s how it works.

The Other Side of the Wind – Somehow Welles sneaks a Jodorowsky film into his movie within a movie. And John Huston somehow holds it together while we’re subjected to the Pre-Oliver Stone mash up of film cans. It’s a lonely tale about lonely men who never seem to find love. Cause men can’t be gay. They can only make movies about the hard, sadness of men and only hint about the live they could have for one another.

Serenity – You literally SEE it coming at the very beginning of the movie. It takes this hard, goofy turn and you’re supposed to be flummoxed and angry at the nonsensical but somehow it makes sense to me. It’s an existential turn in the guise of a thumbing of the nose.

Mission Impossible: Fallout – This is up there with DePalma’s first MI film. (I know, there’s a real DePalma vibe going on in this list.) McQuarrie seems to be keeping a list of ways to out due himself. It’s not quite a film he’s making here, but something more in the line of set-piece cinema. North By Northwest filmmaking.

Alita – Battle Angel – I didn’t see much of Robert Rodriguez in this movie. It seemed all Cameron to me. It’s beautiful and compelling and a bit corny in the beginning but this movie had me thinking about female warriors and how men creators conceive them in a twisted form of women’s liberation. It’s hard to distinguish between fetish and heroism.

Glass – There’s a whole lot of flatness here. Things are just too heavy. Even the supers move with the drudgery of their decisions to make this movie. This is not a movie about heroes. It’s about the criminally insane and in M. Night’s understanding of what it would take for someone “with powers” to exist in “our” real world. Apparently, these people with “powers” could convinced that they don’t have powers by a fake psychiatrist.