Sunday, December 23, 2012


3 out of 5. ARMADILLO by Janus Metz Pedersen is a beautifully crafted documentary almost to a fault. It follows the lives of a group Danish soldiers to Afghanistan. Much in the same vein as RESTREPO it balances the intensity of firefight with the sheer boredom of nothing in between. Why this one stands out is because it is so well shot and edited with post-coloring effects that you sometimes forget it's real. It's still no less moving and worth a look.


Saturday, December 22, 2012


4 out of 5. David Michôd's ANIMAL KINGDOM was beautiful surprise of cinema when I first saw it. The clarity and depth of his characters was alarming. What I didn't realize, was like SLING BLADE this was shot once before, but from a different POV with many of the same cast. It was a short film, a practice run if you will, that made this film feel so polished. If you like crime and want a taste of something a little different check it out.


Saturday, December 1, 2012


4 out of 5. Director Benh Zeitlin found the right alchemy with people and place in  BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD. As far as indie films go, which I do not watch many, this has opened my eyes to some fantastic possibilities. Perhaps it was his short film GLORY AT SEA that got me excited to see his feature. It's smart storytelling with an intensely successful DIY approach to just about everything. I say this because they get a lot of mileage out of so little. The Art Direction of this film is as textured and prevalent as the acting. Easily one of the best films I saw last year.


Thursday, November 22, 2012


4 out of 5. Kar Wai Wong's IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE reinforces the sensitivity of a director toward the interplay of emotions and images. He gets relationships in their beautiful clumsy ways that give Ang Lee a run for his money. The costuming and casting is perfect. I love the two leads. You literally ache for these people to be together without all the Hollywood schmaltz that infects most things stateside.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012


4 out of 5. Yôji Yamada's THE TWILIGHT SAMURAI reminded me a lot UNFORGIVEN. The plot centers around a widowed samurai who has lost any sense of self-worth. He's internalized a lot of the pain and denies himself the opportunity to move on. The acting is really good. The story feels like the last samurai movie that will be made because of the introduction of guns and the end of the Edo period. Slow, thoughtful and very good relationships make it worth a look.


Sunday, August 12, 2012


4 out 5. Rainer Werner Fassbinder's ALI: FEAR EATS THE SOUL is pretty damn cool. He boldly faces every convention available to him and makes a palpable story with characters that get under your skin. I had no idea what I'd expect after watching Fox and His Friends but I'm amazed by this director's ability at clear and creative storytelling. It's almost stylized in many ways from the art direction and clothing choices, there's some heavy symbolism throughout. If you like to keep chewing on a film after your done watching it...check this one out.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012


3 out of 5. David Cronenberg's EASTERN PROMISES is a small but impactful film. The cast is really good together and direction is quite solid. I especially like the Art Direction and costumes in this film. Viggo is a badass in this and has an amazingly shot fight scene. Also Vincent Cassel is loose cannon and adds a lot of tension throughout. Fun stuff.


Tuesday, July 3, 2012


4 out of 5. Akira Kurosawa's YOJIMBO is an excellent template that many a story has hung on. Sergio Leone's A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS took what Kurosawa pioneered and pushed it a little further owning it in the process. But I give Kurosawa full credit for some amazing shots and a great balance of comedy in a grim and unsettling time.


Sunday, June 24, 2012


4 out of 5. I was reminded to day of the work of Luis Buñuel, specifically his THE EXTERMINATING ANGEL. I loved this film about class degradation. Just a wonderful surreal film where dinner guests are trapped in one room and they can't keep up appearances. In some ways it feels like it could have been more appropriate 30 years earlier...or more caustic if handled by the likes of Waters or Lynch. Still, a great concept delivered in style.


Friday, April 13, 2012


5 out of 5. Brad Bird and his team really brought animation a shot in the arm with THE IRON GIANT. It hits on so many levels it defies a single viewing. This is the kind of filmmaking and storytelling that is almost impossible. The fact that it's animated makes it even more of a miracle. It's poignant without being saccharin. This and THE INCREDIBLES were easily my two favorite Brad Bird outings. Highly recommended for everyone!


Monday, March 5, 2012


4 out of 5. Three highly imaginative and creative minds come together in Michel Gondry's ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND. It seems almost as rare as sighting a comet but this perfect storm of talent represents a time in Hollywood when creative films could still get made. I believe it was the first thing I'd seen of Gondry's work and have gone onto check out his THE SCIENCE OF SLEEP which is also enjoyable. The acting is wonderful and as surreal as the Charlie Kaufmann's story gets Jim Carrey is pitch-perfect in his reckless abandon. This movie does not disappoint in the least.


Sunday, January 22, 2012


3 out of 5. Taika Waititi's EAGLE VS. SHARK is stuck in my head and I can't get it out. I think that's a good thing too. The film is indie and smart with some really odd characters but not for the sake of being odd. It's carefully conceived and well directed with stop-motion inserts throughout that add a nice texture to the story. If you like the quirk of Wes Anderson movies this film is easy-going and fun.