Clayton has written 73 reviews for films rated ★★★½ .

  • Experiment in Terror

    Experiment in Terror


    Vin Scully can hijack my vintage Hollywood thriller any time.

    Experiment in Terror has more fun with its stratagems and indeed, experimentations than its comprehensive goods can match, but for a film about a maniacal killer filmed in the Kennedy Administration it holds up well. I may be crazy but I spotted a couple beats that seem to grandfather later classics, particularly Dirty Harry’s infamous Scorpio killer with the off-kilter “Do we understand each other?” line reading and the dramatic helicopter…

  • California Split

    California Split


    Inhales thinly sketched characters and plot and exhales boozy, conversational naturalism. The final exchange is a crucial sting, delivering our scintillating duo down from the clouds and face to face with what they truly value, and the itchy normalcy just a few empty cards away.

  • Coherence



    Slight but amusing cinematic riddle thrusted upon a dinner party that gets its kicks fiddling around with quantum physics, astronomical anomalies and Schrödinger's cat. It's as if Primer ran out of gas and stopped for a fill up at the home in The Celebration. The writing by James Ward Byrkit (also directing) is the main draw here, leaning on probabilistic outcomes and scientific speculation to mete out pockets of intrigue, whilst interpersonal dynamics of former lovers and their quiet quarrels…

  • Run



    Misery meets My Left Foot?

    Pure genre fun featuring a demented Sarah Paulson and a feisty debut turn by young Kiera Allen. Run was not at all what I was expecting from the poster art and title crawl, in the better sense. This type of competent, mid-budget thrill ride is sorely lacking in today’s multiplex and its very existence gave me a warm, tingly feeling reminiscent of slow paces up and down the video store aisle, happening upon a cover…

  • Alps



    Who wouldn't want a stranger "substituting" in for their dead loved one? Interesting post-Dogtooth experiment from Yorgos Lanthimos, which finds him continuing to parse, sequester, and cattle prod the elemental building blocks which define human interaction, and here specifically, grief and mortality. The film feels like a full-frontal assault on false consolation, hyperbolized to absurdist lengths. Trademark stilted deliveries and ink-black humor abound, crystallized most elegantly in the following:

    (To the grieving parents of their deceased daughter, a tennis player)…

  • The Call

    The Call


    The pleasures of the land line, revisited.

    If you have the same experience I did, you'll infer the mechanics of where The Call is going fairly early on. What I did not count on, however, was how far director Chung-Hyun Lee was going to push his science fiction / thriller / serial killer horror mashup. You'll either laugh yourself out of the scenario quickly, or be unable to slap the giddy grin off your face (like me) because you're having…

  • One Night in Miami...

    One Night in Miami...


    Fictionalized or not, the arguments for civil rights bathed in star wattage put forth in Regina King's One Night in Miami... make you believe something like this happened, and if not, it damn well should have. I found Jim Brown's (Aldis Hodge) depiction the most impressive, exuding a quiet, gravitational strength and realism. That opening scene with Brown - a greater punch in the gut than anything Clay could have summoned. Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir) and Sam Cookes' (Leslie Odom…

  • Croupier



    Deep cut limey export that proves to be that rare unheralded movie that shows up on Netflix worth watching. A slicker-than-oil Clive Owen stars as Jack, a struggling writer that takes a gig as a croupier (no idea what this was until the film) to make ends meet and mine material for his unwritten book. The gig succeeds in reanimating many of his dusty, bygone skills and addictions and begins to take on a charged life of its own with…

  • Let Him Go

    Let Him Go


    More successful as an endearing portrait of later-life marriage than for its engaging, but ultimately predictable plotting. I could watch Kevin Costner and Diane Lane read bathroom graffiti together in skid row for two hours, but throwing them into a grief-sodden period tale of familial blood feud also does the trick nicely. Stately, respectable filmmaking.

  • Romance



    The real 50 Shades of Grey. Romance is a superb subversion of the male gaze fronted by a fearless central performance. Just when you think director Catherine Breillat has reached the apex of her daring, she unloads her finale. For some reason, the addition of the cat into the scenario makes the whole incident 10x more hilarious. The slumbering, inattentive father-to-be and his untouched pussy right beside him. Fucking poetry.

    P.S. I do wonder what the children in Marie's (Caroline…

  • Fallen



    From Directory Gregory Hoblit, the back to back of Primal Fear and Fallen is one of the more under-appreciated one-two punches of the 90s. The former is clearly superior, but the latter ain't no slouch either. The story is clever enough, following the post-Se7en trend of killers purportedly connected to the supernatural plane wreaking havoc on otherwise stalwart detectives. If perhaps overly charismatic at times, the acting is uniformly excellent and the screenplay knows when to cool the temperature down…

  • The Pink Panther

    The Pink Panther