James Westbrook

James Westbrook

Pro

All those monkeys writing Shakespeare lost interest and started reviewing movies instead.

Favorite films

  • Ganja & Hess
  • Taste of Cherry
  • Under the Skin
  • Apocalypse Now

Recent activity

All
  • The Fog

    ★★★½

  • The Skin I Live In

    ★★★½

  • The Man Who Would Be King

    ★★★★

  • Cry Macho

    ★★½

Pinned reviews

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  • Paris, Texas

    Paris, Texas

    ★★★★★

    The America of Paris, Texas is an America of horizons. Grass-flecked deserts that go on for miles, hills that crest and recede far past where we can see them, and sunsets that sweep across everything in sight, the earth descending into twilight blue as the sky dances in hues of gold and purple. Even when Travis Henderson sits on the hill top of his brother's swanky L.A. home the city lights below him stretch for so far, glitter and blink…

  • Nomadland

    Nomadland

    ★★½

    As if independent film's lingering obsession with Malick fucked a Vox explainer on the ripple effects of the '08 housing crash. It's at its best when it embraces the oral tradition and lets Real People tell their stories in warmly lit wide-angle close-ups, but it's telling that those moments come and go in bite-sized snippets that are largely window dressing for Nomadland's real obsession: watching Francis McDormand perform poverty against self-consciously-beautiful Western backdrops. There's an argument to be made that…

Recent reviews

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  • The Fog

    The Fog

    ★★★½

    When it's just rolling neon fog, or small town architecture at night glowing under ominously-underpowered street lights, or eerily still human shapes barely visible in that low cloud of otherworldly droplets, the vibes are just perfect, the turn-of-the-80s atmosphere so thick it could take down power lines. When it has to do something with that atmosphere it's less likely to keep you up at night; there's an extended daytime second act that bogs things down in back story that isn't…

  • The Skin I Live In

    The Skin I Live In

    ★★★½

    A dark fairy tale of malleable identities and sterile surfaces, of traumas that splinter the mind and knives that warp the skin, of the thin lines between obsession and sex and hate and love. The kind of film that begs to be talked about and gawked at, just fucked up enough to get under the skin (ha) and scramble our moral calculus without needlessly poking at cultural sore spots. The images are gorgeous (the shadow-thick nights cut through by sharp…

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  • The Man Who Would Be King

    The Man Who Would Be King

    ★★★★

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    Two awful and awfully charming scoundrels prey on the trust and naivete of an indigenous culture to enrich themselves. Despite its often jovial tone and the rich vein of imperialist satire that premise* flirts with this is, at heart, a star-studded adventure film, a slinky globe-trotting epic that hinges on how much we enjoy watching Sean Connery and Michael Caine trade barbs while trying to out-competent one another and out-fox everyone else. So a pretty archetypal John Huston flick, then:…

  • Cry Macho

    Cry Macho

    ★★½

    There are a lot of great desert vistas in Cry Macho, drone shots across desolate highways and silhouettes against so many painterly skies, but the greatest vista (wait for it, I'm about to go full AVClub) is the weathered face of 91-year-old Clint Eastwood. Between his gaunt frame, strained voice, and stiff movements Clint looks so old that a distinct feeling of unreality pervades Cry Macho's gentle drama. He perpetually looks like he's about to fall over, but he's supposed…