Clayton has written 129 reviews for films rated ★★★★ .

  • Woman in the Dunes

    Woman in the Dunes

    ★★★★

    When cascading sand doubles as running water in the cool, and beading sweat in the heat. When you realize you've been plucked from the comfortability of your surroundings and placed on display like all of the precious beetles and other creepy-crawlies dear to your heart. When you try your mightiest to dislodge the sand, the endless sand, not from the webbings in your extremities but in the depths of your soul. Hiroshi Teshigahara's Woman in the Dunes is a study…

  • The Gambler

    The Gambler

    ★★★★

    This movie may have given birth to the Safdie Bros.

  • Dirty Pretty Things

    Dirty Pretty Things

    ★★★★

    Livewire thriller, sensitively filmed by Stephen Frears and featuring a bevy of sympathetic, well-written characters. Dirty Pretty Things ensures with its watchful eye that the ugly exploitation of illegals in foreign lands is given its due, along with the money-hungry sharks that lurk in their orbit ready to capitalize when blood is in the water. The film pulsates along with a desperate, beating heart - not the kind that induces blockages - and the coda is a welcomely tender showstopper with one of the most masterfully employed fade-outs I’ve seen in some time.

  • Mother

    Mother

    ★★★★

    Mother’s ruthless amputation of moral sanity from the parent-child tether is both darkly funny and crushingly sad. The opening shot is still a stunner ten odd years later, juxtaposing the obsessive delirium of a parent with no roads left to travel against bucolic poetry.

    - typed on a pervert phone.

  • Death Proof

    Death Proof

    ★★★★

    Viewed the truncated Grindhouse cut.

    Is there a better shot in Tarantino's oeuvre than Kurt Russell's fourth-wall break when he smiles at the camera and flicks his heater, before meting out heavy dollops of vehicular carnage? Chef's kiss. The patina of sloppiness foisted on this thing felt more forced this time around, as Tarantino can't help but fucking Tarantino his movie in the end. The decision to have two completely different ensembles of female characters? Still bold, and somehow it…

  • Breakdown

    Breakdown

    ★★★★

    I am the Donut King.

    One of those flicks I caught an inexplicably large amount of times growing up. It's funny how added years change your perspective on a film text. Breakdown's canvas used to feel gargantuan to me, an exploration of one couple's waking nightmare wrought on the vastness of desolate desert highways. While the scope of the events now feels significantly smaller and constrained with thirty-something eyes, especially with its brisk 90 minute runtime, I actually think the…

  • Spirited Away

    Spirited Away

    ★★★★

    Miyazaki and co. don't just make films, they engineer worlds. Look at anything going on in the frame, no matter the distance from the main action, and you'll find the same amount of vitality, of wonder, of ingenuity. An absolute delight. What an imagination!

  • Hiroshima Mon Amour

    Hiroshima Mon Amour

    ★★★★

    We all have our Hiroshima, and we all have our Nevers, France. That is, until we allow ourselves to forget. The memory fades away when fully subsumed by a new one, and the pain with it. The final third in this heavily influential treatise on memory gets a bit tedious in its plotting, but not enough to mire Alan Resnais’ wistful touch and Marguerite Duras’ otherwise sparkling screenplay. The editing is masterful, at turns traditional and iconoclast, finely slicing together…

  • A Brighter Summer Day

    A Brighter Summer Day

    ★★★★

    Impressive epic with novelistic reach and a lived-in, experiential punch. The deliberate, nuanced storytelling and intimacy surrounding this 1960s Taiwanese family makes its absolute backbreaker of an ending sting with unusual force. As someone only marginally familiar with Taipei’s history, that was a kick in the throat. Yang’s final shot is an all-timer, a wordless expression of unimaginable loss.

  • Godzilla

    Godzilla

    ★★★★

    Watching Toho's original film from 1954 lays to waste, in my mind, all arguments about the great monster's subsequent cinematic legacy. The scaled, radioactive anomaly belongs in 1950s Japan, and that's it. Divorcing Godzilla from it's immediate political fears and socio-cultural anxieties is unthinkable; like if the owner of the Welles estate thought that was sufficient enough grounds to remake Citizen Kane. This is a unique cinematic expression from a culture still reeling from and reckoning with a great national…

  • The Dig

    The Dig

    ★★★★

    Carey Mulligan: my heart is full. What an actress.

    Simon Stone's The Dig adapts the novelization of the true-to-life Sutton Hoo burial artifacts dug up in the late 1930s in Suffolk, England, on the brink of the Second World War. The archaeological wonder has since come to enlighten the world's understanding of the art and culture of Medieval England, taking it out of the assumed “darkness” that prevailed without a civilizing Roman influence. Stone's visual approach to the subject matter…

  • Wolfwalkers

    Wolfwalkers

    ★★★★

    The animation is a cradle of warmth. The stylings are impeccable. The story steeped in folklore, fraught with historical tensions and galvanized with family strength is absolutely wonderful. A treat not to be missed. Turn it on and get ready to howl toward the heavens.