Favorite films

  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
  • Ida
  • Hunger
  • Gallipoli

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  • Hotel Rwanda

    ★★★★

  • A Knight's Tale

    ★★★★

  • The Last King of Scotland

    ★★★★

  • Braveheart

    ★★★

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  • The Covenant

    The Covenant

    ★★½

    All-in-all, this Guy Ritchie directed story weirdly shows quite a bit of restraint and the “covenant” idea is demonstrated (with huge sacrifices made by the two main characters). It earns a spot on the War is Wrong list—though I do recommend any or all of these as prerequisite viewing: PoG, AQotWF, BM, Gallipoli, TWTSTB, QVA, and even the more recent—and more subversive than it seems—Fury. Also Christian Bale’s mournful Hostiles. These alternatives provide (IMHO) a more clear-eyed examination of war—each…

  • The Last Castle

    The Last Castle

    TLDR: Skip this bad agitprop and check out any of these much better prison movies instead. What you get here is woefully inferior to other Rod Lurie directed outings, like The Contender and Nothing But the Truth (both quite good). What The Last Castle gives you is a glimpse of early Mark Ruffalo (working a fairly throwaway role), plus James Gandolfini doing his best to breathe life and nuance into a stereotypical prison-warden-villain cliché. Mainly, though, it’s Robert Redford, cast (at 65) as…

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  • Hotel Rwanda

    Hotel Rwanda

    ★★★★

    Good synopses here and here. Pairs especially with Quo Vadis, Aida?—a true stunner which drops you in a similar real genocidal situation as the trappings of civility recede disturbingly quickly and one is left face-to-face with the murderous bluntness of merciless warlords. See also Argentina, 1985 and others here and here.

  • A Knight's Tale

    A Knight's Tale

    ★★★★

    Like a magic lance smashing a stale old genre, writer-director Brian Helgeland delivers a fresh, improbably warm-hearted story that introduces us to then-unknown Heath Ledger (RIP), complemented by a quiver-full of strong castmates—all boldly orchestrated to a genre-subverting rock-n-roll soundtrack!

    As this reviewer notes: 

    A groundbreaker in the incredible genre that is period pieces with intentionally anachronistic flair… A delightful mishmash of sports and medieval film tropes.

    Geoffrey Chaucer [Paul Bettany]:
    I have the pride, the privilege, nay, the pleasure of introducing…

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  • Asteroid City

    Asteroid City

    ★★½

    Alas, this is no Grand Budapest, but you can’t blame Wes Anderson. The maestro of meta, the burgermeister of bric-a-brac, the Boss Tweed of twee is gunna do what he gunna do. 

    This time out, after a too-showy, increasingly obligatory, proscenium-exposing, aspect-ratio-flaunting story-within-a-story setup, you’re delivered by train to Anderson’s latest mise en scène: a bleached out 1950s Americana Southwest with mushroom-cloud-dappled skies and a potpourri of quirky characters (aka his troop of regular players, spiced with newbies Margot Robbie, Rupert…

  • Oppenheimer

    Oppenheimer

    ★★★★★

    Pairs with fictional flawed Titans in Tar, The Master, and Strangelove. Money quote: “You’re not just self-important, you’re actually important.” Things I liked:

    Christopher Nolan’s boldness to trust that we’ll track with him as he parallelizes and jump-cuts between key turning-points across time periods.

    Nolan’s utter confidence to explode all of the audience’s anticipation by culminating with the Trinity detonation to end Act II—only to drop his even bigger bomb in Act III with the revelation of Lewis Strauss as…