Clayton has written 112 reviews for films rated ★★★★½ .

  • Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion

    Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion

    ★★★★½

    Just when you think you’ve heard all the Maestro’s best scores...

    Jiving somewhere between a playpen and The Battle of Algiers, Morricone’s music is auspicious wallpaper for establishing tone but far from the extent of pleasures on offer in this restored Italian curio. Gian Maria Volonté’s towering performance in Elio Petri’s Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion does most of the heavy lifting, playing a police inspector tasked with investigating himself after murdering his beautiful girlfriend out of jealousy and spite.…

  • The Hit

    The Hit

    ★★★★½

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

    There are a couple ways to read Willie Parker's (Terrence Stamp) last moments in Stephen Frears' deconstructionist genre gem, The Hit:

    - The nirvana approach to death was a load of bollocks, tarnished to smithereens at the real sight of the executioner's axe.

    - A disappointment that fate's trajectory had been defied, and thus the universe with it.

    It's the latter reading that I grasp onto. The vision of Willie meeting his end in Paris at the hands of the…

  • Bo Burnham: Inside

    Bo Burnham: Inside

    ★★★★½

    A vaudevillian, psychedelic carnival ride through one man's elastic psychosis. Bo Burnham's Inside is an important document charting the soaring highs and precipitous lows of mental health in times of great social uncertainty, as well as a tumultuous glimpse behind the curtain of the creative process itself. You get the feeling rather quickly that if Burnham didn't have this project to keep him occupied during The Great Shutdown, stories with his likeness in the news right now may have a…

  • The Underground Railroad

    The Underground Railroad

    ★★★★½

    A staggering if somewhat exhausting piece of work, which should be engraved for all time into the halls of our fictionalized accounts rendering in vivid color and grace the savagery of the Original Sin. The profound ugliness of its innumerably gorgeous images makes the scattered notes of life to be found all the more haloed. Barry Jenkins' limited series finds its lead character in its first three episodes, then uses the trials and travails of that battered, impossibly resilient canvas…

  • The Train

    The Train

    ★★★★½

    “Men are such fools. Men want to be heroes, and their widows mourn.”

    Handsome, muscular cinema that turns the vulgarities of screeching iron into something downright symphonic. Lancaster is fantastic. No face knows weariness quite like his, yet few also manage to be as comforting. John Frankenheimer’s The Train harkens back to old-fashioned cinema in the best senses of the word, where leading men conveyed the physical strain of a day’s work in merciless wides, and spectacle directors expressed a sensitivity…

  • Ikiru

    Ikiru

    ★★★★½

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

    "I can't afford to hate people. I don't have that kind of time."

    A melancholy, tremendously moving experience about an aging bureaucrat given a terminal diagnosis coming to grips with a life that has passed him by. Kurosawa's film is so incisive, so perceptive about human nature that the subtlest gestures exude a delayed-release kind of profundity. I think of the epiphanies of Kinji Watanabe's (Takashi Shimura) co-workers as they mourn his death, in a drunken stupor promising to revolutionize…

  • The Rider

    The Rider

    ★★★★½

    I've been deliberating whether or not to give Chloé Zhao's The Rider the perfect 5 star rating, as I can't yet find any faults in it after sitting on it for a day. I'll leave it at 4.5 for now, give it some more daylight and return to it.

    There are countless superlatives I could toss this picture's way, you name it, but the master descriptor I zero in on is honest. The Rider is at bedrock a very simple…

  • The Big Short

    The Big Short

    ★★★★½

    “Just don’t fucking dance.”

    Not every morsel of splatter McKay shoots at the wall sticks and the ending does get a bit didactic for my taste, but the intoxicating Frankenstein’s monster of entertainment and disgust on offer in The Big Short is one hell of a meal and I ate it up.

  • Deep Cover

    Deep Cover

    ★★★★½

    Oh fuck yeah.

    So fucking entertaining with its gritty big dick swagger that I forgot the world and everything in it. Neon-lit, smart, pulpy cinema with a so-cool-its-hot performance from Fishburne opposite a Dr. Jeffyl and Mr. Goldblum for the ages. This is fire.

  • Walkabout

    Walkabout

    ★★★★½

    Something akin to a religious experience, Nicolas Roeg's Walkabout has a great deal on its mind, ranging from the survival of its two abandoned, naive city slickers to a rumination on the identity of Australia itself. Formally, Roeg splatters a lot on the screen. Not all of it sticks or even coheres, but what a bloody-good craftsman! The narrative thrust is beset by a whole host of pleasures and intrigues: a travelogue of the Outback's arid, desolate beauty and unforgiving…

  • Green Room

    Green Room

    ★★★★½

    Saulnier’s talent for fleshing out the humanity in characters both indispensable and tertiary to his story is staggering. Even the skinhead punks sent in to finish the job get their moment, the heavy-breathing and adrenaline of kill-or-be-killed battlegrounds puncturing the stale air of this backwoods venue from hell. This is white-knuckle genre pulp of a high caliber.

  • Portrait of a Lady on Fire

    Portrait of a Lady on Fire

    A film of beautiful, sensuous fragments. A turned head walking toward a precipitous cliff overlooking a pristine, greyed out beach. A stolen glance. An unfinished portrait, deprived of its most emotive and complex feature. An image of a trapped woman's piercing gaze, staring at you from a distance, bridged by crackling fire. Chapter 28. It goes on... Céline Sciamma's Portrait of a Lady on Fire is a smoldering showcase of escalating passion smothered by the frigid cuffs of taboo. It's…