• The Damned Don't Cry

    The Damned Don't Cry

    ★★★½

    An amusing melodrama that, after a clunky and slow start, finds its entertainingly overwrought groove and continues to build to a deliriously ridiculous finale. Joan Crawford is pitch perfect, nailing every plot twist and intense back and forth with all the men. There are at least a half a dozen all-time classic exchanges and moments from Crawford. The entire cast are delivering all of their lines in extreme melodrama suave and it's too on point to not enjoy. David Brian…

  • Petite Maman

    Petite Maman

    ★★★★½

    A rather remarkable and indelible film from Céline Sciamma. It's so simple and gentle with how it plays out, yet it's fully realized with its yearning childhood fairytale aims. Not sure many films could match the efficiency of how this one sets up its story and dreamlike perspective. The aims of this type of story and approach probably isn't for most people but I'm forever going to be in on a story that wears its thematic and emotional intentions and…

  • Paradise View

    Paradise View

    ★★★★

    Peculiarity with purpose is always a delight. Slowly, all the strange elements - characters, settings, conversations - and different perspectives and styles fold into one another, creating a compelling piece of contemporary Okinawan storytelling. Part folktale, part meandering philosophical fuck-around and part small town melodrama - this film has a lot going on. It's all delivered with a bemused casualness, too.

    Haruomi Hosono is also in the mix - both on screen and composing a playfully traditional and sparse score.…

  • Marie Antoinette

    Marie Antoinette

    When a cool photoshoot idea mistakenly gets made into a feature film...

    Kind of perfect a legacy rich woman half-heartedly made a movie about a famous legacy rich woman who half-assed everything. There are a handful of supporting performances desperately trying to grab hold of the supposed satire. Kirsten Dunst is doing the deed with trite obliviousness but is left on an island without much real commentary or story to justify the runtime. It may have worked with something closer…

  • Crystal Fairy & the Magical Cactus

    Crystal Fairy & the Magical Cactus

    ★★★★

    This is a hilariously entrenched asshole un-adventure until it eventually cracks open for a faint touch of lyricism. Love how eye-rolling cynicism touches every part of the story, even when the more gentle revelations sneak through. Truly perfect casting to have Michael Cera play an obnoxious asshole. Love how this captures a specific group of people, time and place.

    The joke is kind of on the Americans, but it still would have been nice to find space for the Silvas…

  • Stray Dog

    Stray Dog

    ★★★★½

    "Depending how you take it, bad luck can be a big break."

  • The Set-Up

    The Set-Up

    ★★★★★

    Simple, melancholic brutality superbly executed. Love the real-time storytelling, all of the wonderful character details and asides and the gorgeous and revealing cinematography. There may have been even more political and thematic subtext left off to the sides but the simple character story more than makes up for it. Robert Ryan is fantastic as the lead and easily pulls off some of the most effective boxing scenes you're likely to find. It's all the more impressive this film pulls it…

  • Asia is One

    Asia is One

    ★★★½

    Colonialism and Imperialism through the Okinawa lens. In the early minutes, this documentary feels overly academic and removed. Slowly, the oral history and shifting perspectives of the numerous interviews reveal a fascinating and compelling look at a variety of personal stories of 20th Century immigrant experiences - from Taiwan to Korea to Okinawa. It's all just glimpses, but they're rewarding nonetheless.

    The variety of the various interviews end up creating an impressive editorial introduction to the subject matter, much like…

  • Motoshinkakarannu

    Motoshinkakarannu

    ★★★½

    A messy and immersive collage-like documentary that manages to intertwine the cultural with the political. The wandering perspective, grunge black and white cinematography and loose editing create a chaotic yet purposeful piece of zeitgeist filmmaking. This is a solid piece of historical storytelling, providing a slight glimpse into the people and issues of 1969-1970 Okinawa. Love the how music and song are added, as well. It's disappointing several sections are missing the original audio.

    "Things happen, but it was me who got myself into it."

    *2022 Visions of Okinawa series, Japan Society

  • An American Tragedy

    An American Tragedy

    Poor Sylvia Sydney.

    I'm putting this down as America's first Lifetime movie.

  • Morocco

    Morocco

    ★★★½

    Marlene Dietrich, named "Amy Jolly," wearing a tux, singing in French, shaking dudes hands and kissing women. And fighting for love. Quite an outing. Gary Cooper is still a big ol' dork. It's always amusing when he tries to be cool.

    Much of the film feels like it's going through the motions, but there are several stylish sequences and a handful of witty dialogue exchanges to elevate the story.

    "You better go now. I'm... Beginning to like you."

    The final 10 minutes are A+ romantic movie magic.

  • Bleed With Me

    Bleed With Me

    ★★

    Not shabby bit of indie eeriness. Also... Mumblecore creepiness is still alive, who would have thunk? Can't tell if more should have happened or less should have happened. Either way, centering Lauren Beatty being an unsettling asshole is a decent move. This is an ideal candidate for a 45 minute runtime.