1917 (2019) ***1/2

Playing as a cross between Dunkirk(2017) (my review here) and Saving Private Ryan(1998), 1917 (2019) is a riveting ride and a ridiculous technical feat (andexactly the type of film made for IMAX). The amount of choreography, blocking and timing that went into this film to make it appear as one take boggles the mind. The challenges that the cast and crew faced must have been tremendous. But much like Dunkirk, I found myself wanting more story and human connection outside of mere survival and traumatic experiences. So while director Sam Mendes accomplishes an insanely impressive level of "Hitchcockian audience manipulation" (Alonso Duralde), there are times when the "simulation of raw immediacy slips to reveal the calculated construct underneath" (Justin Chang) and it's there that 1917 falls short of being a truly excellent narrative film.

Psycho Beach Party (2000) ***1/2


Q (1982) ***

Q(1982) has a lot going for it—director Larry Cohen's jazz-like (or scattershot, depending on your opinion) approach to acting, action, and editing; Michael Moriarty's at times bafflingly hilarious, at times bizarrely dramatic method performance; zany, Z-grade Harryhausen-like f/x, and a killer Boris Vallejo theatrical poster.

But Q is not the sum of its parts. Or maybe it is… Either way, it's a clunky mess of a film, but it's a lot of fun. I've always been convinced that Cohen didn't have a completed script when he began shooting, just a basic idea ("It's King Kong...but with an ancient bird!")—instead letting his actors improvise away. And that's OK because we love ya for it, Larry; there was nobody quite like you and your tripped-out style.

Hereditary (2018) ***1/2

On a second viewing of Hereditary (2018) I understood its mechanics better though I wouldn't necessarily say I liked it more (my initial review here). Of his two films, I think I might prefer Ari Aster's second film, Midsommar(2019) (my review here), though I think I need a second viewing to say that with certainty. I'm not in love with either film and I think his characterization needs work but I still think he is a very good filmmaker who has major potential.

All About Eve (1950) ****

All About Eve(1950) is the quintessential egomaniacal-aging-grand-dame-replaced-by-scheming-ingenue picture (to paraphrase Rebecca Flint Marx in their AllMovie review). Though the acting is melodramatic by today's standards, it's fitting given the theatre setting, and the cast and crew that won and were nominated for the many Academy Awards given to the film deserved it for the precedent that it set. Of the many things I love about All About Eve, a couple worth mentioning are the fact that there's no heartwarming romance or characters finding themselves of any sort. No—just cynicism, whipcrack dialogue, and acceptance of one's fate. Yet there is an undeniable playfulness to the film, thanks to director Joseph L. Mankiewicz's razor sharp script. All About Eve—now nearly seventy years old—still packs a punch and will forever remain a classic.

My Criterion Top 10 [Vol. 5]

Almost two years ago, I posted My Criterion Top 10 picks since 2012, when I created Volume 4. Continuing the trend of creating a new CC Top 10 list every two years, here is:

My Criterion Top 10 [Vol. 5] (click on the orange spectacle for reviews of each film)

If you'd like to revisit the previous volumes, you can do so at the links below.

My Criterion Top 10 [Vol. 1] (originally posted 7/16/12)
My Criterion Top 10 [Vol. 2] (originally posted 4/23/14)
My Criterion Top 10 [Vol. 3] (originally posted 1/9/16)
My Criterion Top 10 [Vol. 4] (originally posted 3/2/18)

I hope you'll take the time to read the notes that I wrote for Volumes 2–4 as well (click on the orange spectacles).

Buffalo '66 (1998) *****

Buffalo '66(1998). What a strange and wonderful art film. It's hard to view Vincent Gallo as anything but pretentious and a narcissist, but there is an undoubtable genius to this film, which is very difficult to classify or describe. Which is why I give it 5-stars because honestly I don't know how else to rate it.

I'd seen Buffalo '66 at least three times previously (the last time being exactly five years ago) and I never before realized that Christina Ricci was only 17 when she starred in the film (which I should have been able to put together since she and I share the same birthday, year and all). Nor did I realize that Gallo was 36 when he made the film, which is pretty icky.

I also don't pay much attention to movie stars and their personal lives, though I knew that Gallo didn't get on well with cast and crew (many of whom intentionally never worked with him again). Then there was The Brown Bunny(2003) and all that surrounded that production, of course. …

Under The Silver Lake (2018) ***1/2

Under The Silver Lake(2018) is one of those films where the mystery and the enticing journey are far more interesting than its conclusion. The ending somehow still feels perfectly appropriate for a film populated by vapid characters, inexplicable oddities, seeming non sequiturs, a layer of unreality, and clues/symbols that (maybe?) don't amount to much.

Director David Robert Mitchell clearly took a page from David Lynch and Joel & Ethan Coen, not merely because of Silver Lake's Los Angeles setting (a la Mulholland Drive(2001) and The Big Lebowski (1998) (my review here)), but its neo-noir leanings. Where it fails to match those classics is in its lack of characters that a general audience can identify or empathize with. Its lead is kind of a loser and all of the women have thankless roles—a good deal of them appearing nude for no apparent reason. I'm honestly not sure if the film is trying to make a comment on privilege, the male gaze, the patriarchy, and cults—along w…

Halloween (1978) ****

While I do love John Carpenter's Halloween (1978) and acknowledge its classic status and influential standing, it is neither my favorite Carpenter film nor my favorite slasher. Those honors go to The Thing (1982) (my review here) and Bob Clark's Black Christmas(1974) (my review here).

That said, there's lots to love about one of the most successful independent films of all time—Carpenter's indelible score featuring that pulsing theme, Dean Cundey's iconic cinematography which includes impressive early use of the Steadicam, plenty of "totally" quotable dialogue, and a tone that successfully blends suspense, scares and humor.

I was surprised to note that the last time I watched the film was almost four years ago to this day and that was the extended (television) version (which is an interesting curiosity but a weaker film). The last time that I watched the film proper was the day after Halloween in 2013! Watching the film for the first time in 4K (this was…

Slither (2006) ***

Slither (2006) is a fun film. I enjoy it well enough. I hadn't seen it since the DVD was released. I also saw it in the theater when it was originally released. I appreciate that it's a throwback to (though at times maybe borrows a little too liberally from) films like Night Of The Creeps (1986) (my review here), The Blob (1988) (my review here), The Thing (1982) (my review here), Freaked (1993), and Society(1989) and that films like this don't get made too often.

I love practical f/x and they are big part of a gory slimy horror film like Slither (and they are very well done here). But there is also a bit too much CGI for my taste and much of the humor is a bit too broad (and not that funny to me). Director James Gunn cut his teeth with Troma and it's one thing for a film to be unabashedly goofy and embrace its low budget nature throughout (I can dig on that). It's another to have frequent juvenile humor in a film that seems on one hand to want to make a serious st…