• Awakening of the Beast

    Awakening of the Beast

    ★★★★

    In Awakening of the Beast, José Mojica Marins turns his lens on youth culture and drugs, but also on the meta world of popular exploitation, media, crime reporting, and himself and his public persona. He also tips more heavily into the titillating and more outrageous suggestiveness.

    Awakening also plays with the form, with visual and sound editing, and centering the hub of the film around a shadowy discussion of intellectuals and psychologists about the strange worlds abounding in 1970.

    Horror…

  • The Witch

    The Witch

    ★★★½

    a.k.a. The (Real) Naked Witch

    While excavating a bog near the family estate, a scientist discovers a woman's corpse with a stake in its heart. The superstitious peasants recognize it to be the body of a witch killed 300 years ago. And against advisement, the researcher removes the stake.

    Later, after a lightning strike a nude woman appears in the grave from which the original corpse had been removed. She awakens and begins to make every individual go totally apeshit.…

  • Sweet Smell of Success

    Sweet Smell of Success

    ★★★★½

    Shot on the streets of New York City by James Wong Howe, it's all glistening brick and pavement, illuminated by fractals of neon signs.

    As I told my son, one of the best film noirs and not a gun in the picture.

  • The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz

    The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz

    ★★★★

    The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz is like The Secret Life of Walter Mitty if the dreamer was an aspiring serial killer, erotically obsessed with ladies' undergarments, and a wry critique of masculinity.

    Luis Buñuel's crime film reels frequently into blatant comedy with healthy doses of absurdity and perversity.

    Just how was this film taken in its day and time?

    Brilliant.

  • When Strangers Marry

    When Strangers Marry

    ★★★

    It's quite interesting to finally watch a William Castle movie from before he started working independently and adding in his classic gimmicks. If the "suspense" film When Strangers Marry is any indicator, William Castle was always William Castle.

    He seems a lot more interested in having fun than in drumming up real suspense. The film opens on a gag, a lion-masked drunk roaring as he enters a bar, setting a tone no film noir ever reached for. Castle even inserts…

  • Anthropocene: The Human Epoch

    Anthropocene: The Human Epoch

    ★★★

    Anthropocene: The Human Epoch plays like a Ron Fricke film (Koyaanisqatsi, Baraka) but with quiet, sparse voiceovers from Alicia Vikander and some textual descriptions. Fricke's films lack all written or spoken context and stunning images play against one another in contrasts, beauty, nature, machinery, horror (as I recall).

    So, Anthropocene offers some context. But at the same time it fails to offer enough context. Nicholas de Pencier's cinematography is amazing, but I kept wondering what was I actually looking at?…

  • Kiss the Blood Off My Hands

    Kiss the Blood Off My Hands

    ★★★★½

    As good a postwar London noir as any actually filmed in London, Kiss the Blood Off My Hands vibes with the lingering trauma of WWII in the haunted Canadian Bill Saunders (Burt Lancaster). This London isn't the verity of rubbled city but the magic of soundstages and cinematography.

    Bill accidentally kills a man with a single punch in a London pub and escapes through the night into the room of Jane Wharton (Joan Fontaine), another damaged soul, who lost her…

  • Requiem for a Dream

    Requiem for a Dream

    ★★★★

    Requiem for a Dream is the second Darren Aronofsky film I've watched recently in which the "horrors" of the movie verged into comedy for me. I had seen Requiem before, back around the time it was released, and I recall that I found it bleak and depressing. Not funny.

    But after watching Mother!, I kind of felt a sense of comedy, not intentional, in the over-the-topness of what is meant to be appalling and upsetting. As if it wants so…

  • Galaxy of Terror

    Galaxy of Terror

    ★★★½

    The movie is pretty good, but the VHS art is the bomb of bombs.

  • Satan Wants You

    Satan Wants You

    ★★★½

    Ah, simpler times.

  • The Zone of Interest

    The Zone of Interest

    ★★★★½

    The Zone of Interest is a very quiet movie. You can hear your neighbor munching popcorn, shifting in their seat, the sound of gunfire on the other side of the wall, occasional screaming as well.

    It's all very intentional.

    Jonathan Glazer's film about Rudolf and Hedwig Höss and their family's bucolic life abutted to the walls of Auschwitz focuses on the things not seen, but can be heard, ignored, or simply accepted, tuned out to more fully appreciate life in…

  • Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

    Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

    ★★★★

    I've been on the hater side of the Star Trek stuff but this first revisit in decades I found myself enjoying all the corny kitsch and silliness, from the hairpieces to the outfits, the goofing on the 20th century, all the insider jokes about the characters' personalities.

    And San Francisco. Actually, that's what finally brought me back to this, was it's San Francisco settings. And they are good. Though why they used the shot of the Marina as supposedly not-San…