Favorite films

  • The Night of the Hunter
  • The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
  • Do the Right Thing
  • Kiss Me Deadly

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  • The Arbor

    ★★★★½

  • East of Eden

    ★★★½

  • Night and the City

    ★★★★

  • The Apple

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  • The Arbor

    The Arbor

    ★★★★½

    There are three kinds of documentaries that tend to most excite me. There are ones defined by an unforeseen twist that falls into the filmmakers’ laps (My Kid Could Paint That), and ones that stay present-tense and experiential without any outside commentary (Leviathan, The Last Race). The third is the audaciously conceptual kind, of which The Arbor is one of the most effective I’ve seen. The more convoluted this gets, the better— sometimes we’re watching actors seamlessly lip-synching to the…

  • East of Eden

    East of Eden

    ★★★½

    My main memory of Rebel Without a Cause is not being terribly impressed with James Dean’s pouty, squirmy Method performance, but this makes much more bracing use of his petulant brooding. He may still be aping Brando (and tends to go a bit big with his emotional outbursts), but it’s genuinely chilling to see him go full Cain near the end; I can imagine his career having gone on to probe that formidable dark side. Likewise, East of Eden itself…

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  • Night and the City

    Night and the City

    ★★★★

    A magnificently seedy battle of the scumbags, devoid of any sympathetic characters to distract from our antihero’s rising and falling fortunes (with a few small exceptions I’ll get to later). It starts with Richard Widmark’s wonderfully oily, flop sweat-drenched performance that had me thinking of Adam Sandler’s work in Uncut Gems; the film’s main pleasure is simply watching him constantly working a new angle with impromptu gusto as the walls close in around him, like someone tossing handfuls of dirt…

  • The Apple

    The Apple

    I don’t tend to get much out of pure camp in the best of cases, but there’s a reason The Apple hasn’t become a cult classic on the level of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. This is clearly indebted to that earlier musical, but Rocky Horror had memorable performances from the likes of Tim Curry and Susan Sarandon, at least a few classic tunes, and a transgressive queer sensibility that poked fun at horror and sci-fi B-movie tropes. The Apple