• A Nightmare on Elm Street

    A Nightmare on Elm Street

    ★★★★★

    My Blu-Ray Collection - #27

    A masterpiece. Wes Craven's gory, surreal horror story is unforgettable and never loses its flavor. I've seen this movie countless times since I was a teenager, and still, it's as effective and entertaining as it was the first time.

  • A Ghost Story

    A Ghost Story

    ★★★★★

    My Blu-Ray Collection - #26

    A modern elegy. An achingly beautiful, humanistic story about the enormity of time, the pain of grief, and the despair of loss. It's an exercise in passivity, in surrendering oneself, and it's a reflection on our search for meaning in the endless vastness of existence.

    For those reasons, and many more, it's one of my favorite films. It also inspired me to write this short story.

  • A Dark Song

    A Dark Song

    ★★★½

    My Blu-Ray Collection - #25

    A patient film that revels in psychological dread. Steeped with atmosphere, and almost hyper-focused on precision -- both in terms of filmmaking and the narrative itself.

    Great performances, especially from Catherine Walker. The emotional catharsis at the end of the film remains palpable, even on a rewatch. Great stuff.

  • A Cure for Wellness

    A Cure for Wellness

    ★★★★

    My Blu-Ray Collection - #24

    It's hard to express how and why this movie works for me. On one hand, the visuals cannot be denied. This is a drop-dead gorgeous film that flexes every cent of its $40 million budget. Some of those sweeping wide shots of the Swiss Alps remain as jaw-dropping now as they did when I saw them in the theater. Plus, Verbinski's directorial eye shines in so many places. The shot of the train sliding into…

  • A Clockwork Orange

    A Clockwork Orange

    ★★★★★

    My Blu-Ray Collection - #23

    After so many years, it’s remarkable how visceral A Clockwork Orange remains. I‘d go so far as to say it’s Kubrick’s most chaotic film. Almost unhinged at times, and bordering on insane.

    Yet, as always is the case with Kubrick, you never get the sense that the film is out of his control. That’s a stunning balance to pull off. Part of the reason he was a masterful director.

  • Dual

    Dual

    ★★★½

    An odd film. Odd doesn't necessarily equate to bad here; in fact, odd is good. Dual is as original as it is perplexing, with a streak of dry, dark humor and a standout, deadpan pair of performances from Karen Gillan.

    Not all of it works for me. The dialogue, in particular, was hit or miss, and some of the film's eccentricities completely removed me from the story (the slow choreography scene, for example). But even with its occasional stumbles, Dual reveals itself to be an intriguing thought experiment wrapped within a dark comedy.

  • Good Mourning

    Good Mourning

    I didn't think it was possible for MGK to do something worse than his god-awful, tone-deaf rendition of "Misery Business" and then I discovered this monstrosity.

  • Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

    Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

    ★★★

    The final entry in this initial trilogy sags under the weight of its own ambition. That much is clear after multiple rewatches. With a $300 million budget and a 2 1/2-hour runtime, this film strains the definition of excess, almost bursting from its seams.

    At the same time, I can't help but admire Verbinski's chaotic vision. Some parts, like the sequence in Davy Jones's locker, are so batshit and ludicrous that they, inherently, become entertaining. Similarly, the final hour of…

  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

    Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

    ★★★★½

    The Pirates trilogy has grown on me over the years. This sequel in particular, which before struck me as bloated and inconsistent, is truly an incredible piece of blockbuster spectacle.

    What ties everything together is that final half-hour. The battle with the Kraken is appropriately gruesome and epic, and the CGI has aged stunningly well. Some of those shots, with the Kraken's tentacles climbing up the side of the Pearl, suckers dripping with ocean water, are jaw-dropping considering they are…

  • Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

    Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

    ★★★★½

    Many have written, ad nauseam, what makes this film in particular work -- both within the context of its franchise and blockbuster filmmaking in general. For me, Black Pearl holds a special kind of magic.

    There's a mystical quality to the way Verbinski crafted this, shifting between slapstick comedy, horror, fantasy, and adventure with ease. The film never feels as though it is spiraling out of the filmmaker's control (as some of the later entries did). It's that delicate balance…

  • George Carlin's American Dream

    George Carlin's American Dream

    ★★★★★

    My first exposure to George Carlin was in my parents' living room. My dad was watching Jammin' In New York and I was listening to George Carlin deconstruct selfish environmentalism. I must have been 10 or 11, but the thing that struck me wasn't the profundity of Carlin's material, but how dangerous it felt to be watching it - Carlin's neck cords bulging, a diatribe of vicious swears and contempt spewing from his mouth, every word launched as if from…

  • The Northman

    The Northman

    ★★★★★

    Revenge can be a tricky story element. As we've seen countless times in storytelling -- whether that's Shakespeare's Hamlet or The Last of Us: Part II -- the delicate balance of feeding into an audience's natural desire for bloodlust and finding humanity in anger is easily tipped. Go too far one way, you're celebrating bloodshed; go too far in the other, the audience will feel unsatisfied.

    The Northman does a remarkable job of achieving this balance, though. So much of…