• The Sugarland Express

    The Sugarland Express

    ★★★

    Spielberg's theatrical debut is another high-stakes adventure on wheels, only this time the psychotic truck driver is replaced by a caravan of Texas highway patrolmen looking to arrest a pair of cross-country outlaws. In its mixing of dramatic and comedic tones, the film displays a circus atmosphere with tragic implications, inviting us to root for the "bad guys" as we watch them race to save their child from foster parents. 

    Clovis and Lou Jean have noble intentions, their actions are…

  • Something Evil

    Something Evil

    Looking for discount Exorcist? Rebate Poltergeist? This schlock is for you. Satan himself took control of Spielberg during the shoot, possessing him into making a straight-to-tv movie about as cheap as they come. The dark lord isn't playing around either, he's terrorizing a local family on a farm in what looks like a jar of cherry-flavored goo (inspiration maybe for Carpenter's PRINCE OF DARKNESS?). Moving on, the liquid evil takes many shapes and forms, from eerie baby cries in a…

  • Duel

    Duel

    ★★★★½

    DUEL is a masterclass exercise in suspense, one of the greatest stalker films ever made. The concept is so amazingly simple, the execution so expertly crafted, it becomes a pure cinematic thrill ride across miles and miles of lethal California highway. JAWS on land, if you will, an experience that thrives on the Hitchcockian power to suggest rather than reveal, where what we don't see or know causes just as much trembling as what we do.

    Spielberg directs the hell…

  • Night Gallery

    Night Gallery

    ★★★½

    As a long time addict of The Twilight Zone (yes, I own all 5 original seasons 1959–64 and binge them every few years), Rod Serling once again delivers those creepy twists of irony in his chilling 60s anthology series, NIGHT GALLERY. Please, if you haven't watched the original Twilight Zone, correct that behavior and start with "Time Enough at Last," "Eye of the Beholder," "To Serve Man," and "The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street." All gold. Many amazing episodes…

  • Amblin'

    Amblin'

    ★★★★

    1968. America's most tumultuous year in politics? 2020 says no, but still, a brutal year. Vietnam war violence rages into American living rooms. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy are assassinated. Riots break out at the Chicago Democratic convention between police and anti-war activists. Racial protests storm the world. Manson over-reads The White Album and promises to save his family from worldwide chaos. And then, by mid-December, Spielberg releases a film about two young drifters, a hippie and a…

  • Firelight

    Firelight

    Of the original 135min feature, only a few minutes have survived. It's Spielberg's third ever directorial effort, made for just $500, about UFOs and alien life forms on other planets. What remains of this little 8mm sci-fi experiment isn't all that great, though it does foreshadow the visual mood and plot dynamics of E.T. and CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND. The one difference is that the tropes here are more "conventionally fifties sci-fi than Spielbergian," say Molly Haskell. By…

  • Escape to Nowhere

    Escape to Nowhere

    “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”

    1 Corinthians 13:11

    “And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

    Matthew 18:3 3

    When I was a kid, I watched Spielberg. When I became an adult, I watched European cinema. There…

  • Death Rides a Horse

    Death Rides a Horse

    ★★★★

    DEATH RIDES A HORSE is by far the superior, more deliberately crafted version of FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE. The flourishes are more intense, the flashbacks are more effective, and the vengeance is colder, darker, and far more viscerally traumatic. As much as I love the Eastwood-Van Cleef duo and the unbeatable pissing contest they share, the Law-Van Cleef dynamic holds more chemistry, more direction, and possesses a richer sense of shared history for what brings them into their unholy…

  • The Big Gundown

    The Big Gundown

    ★★★

    A 12-year old girl has been raped. A Mexican peasant is accused. An American bounty hunter is hired to avenge the evil. What starts off as a standard cat-and-mouse hunt for justice across sweeping US vistas and battered Mexican slums soon becomes a civic role reversal that subverts our expectations of who's good, who's bad, and who's in between. Corbett, the quasi US lawman tempted to earn political clout, is forced to consider the shades of gray that lie beyond…

  • The Great Silence

    The Great Silence

    ★★★★

    "We'll come back and collect them later," cackles Loco. Damn. That ending. Jaw kinda hit the floor, gut kinda tore in half. Maybe I'm dumb at watching westerns, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't surprised by how the cookie crumbles in the final act. Does that make me some kind of silver-lining optimist? The avenging angel, Silence, for all the hope and relief he inspires throughout the film, feels positioned like most anti-heroes to warm up the…

  • Django

    Django

    ★★★★

    Badass to the bone. A spattered jolt of mud, bullets and blood hewn across a barren wasteland of striking visuals, led by an anti-hero coursing with enough lethal intensity to take out more soldiers than the Civil War itself. Don’t mess with 🎶 Djangooooo 🎶 ¿comprende mi amigos? Every time his theme song came on I screamed with delight. Reaches the same warrior levels as YOJIMBO and A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS, clearly indebted to both, only this bruising spool of…

  • Once Upon a Time in America

    Once Upon a Time in America

    ★★★★½

    The mythology of the American Old West never really disappeared, it just evolved and became more complex. The horse became the automobile. The cowboy became the gangster. The gun became the almighty dollar. Harsh, unruly country was developed into modern, newfangled city. Anarchy was eventually seduced by the greed of capitalism. And the promise of civilization to quell the savagery and lawlessness of the land ironically fell into the hands of organized thugs and fancy-looking criminals. Industrialization didn’t civilize America,…