• Design for Living

    Design for Living

    ★★★★½

    Hilarious, frank, and opulent, Design for Living might take the easy way out with its two-lover problem, but the chemistry between the three leads guarantees a smile, and this comedy plays more like a fantasy picture anyways. I know we just met and all, but make mine Lubitsch.

    Also, is it just me, or was Harry and Lloyd's fundraiser entrance from Dumb and Dumber ripped (nearly) straight from here?

  • Rushmore

    Rushmore

    ★★★★

    Max Fischer is a nasty little shit. Good thing he's a funny little shit, too.

    A few thoughts: For some reason I didn't have this marked as watched - maybe because I was actually smart enough to realize I hadn't offered it my full attention the first time around. Huge mistake (the not-paying-attention part). Murray, as funny as he and his character are, feels a bit wobbly here, as if he's still attuning himself with Anderson's sense of humor (or…

  • The Darjeeling Limited

    The Darjeeling Limited

    ★★½

    Anderson's characters (at least up to this point) have always been painted as fundamentally unhappy, and developed as pathetic throughout their respective films. The Whitman brothers share these standard elements, but Anderson - through his prerogative to examine the "now" explicitly and keep the "then" vague and insinuated - oversteps here and the pathetic devolves into just plain mean. The way these brothers treat each other, and their world outlook, is cutting and uncomfortable whereas Royal's buffoonish disregard for his…

  • The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

    The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

    ★★★½

    Proof positive that a little David Bowie makes everything better.

  • The Grand Budapest Hotel

    The Grand Budapest Hotel

    ★★★★½

    I'll want to see it a few more times before finding the appropriate words to really dig into it, but I can at the very least state that, despite missing what is now apparent as the heart that Owen Wilson provided their earlier collaborations, The Grand Budapest Hotel is Anderson's second-best film by a large margin, and is very loudly knocking on The Royal Tenenbaums' door for that top spot.

  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier

    Captain America: The Winter Soldier

    ★★★

    This isn't Captain America 2. At best, it's The Avengers 1.5, and at worst, it's the The Agents of SHIELD Movie. I'm not necessarily complaining about the content, but it feels like a missed opportunity in advancing or developing the character, especially in light of the groundwork laid previously.

    Here's my main issue: in 2 and a quarter hours, the Russo brothers spent maybe 10 minutes on the ethical issues that the Captain America from The First Avenger and The…

  • The American Friend

    The American Friend

    ★★★★

    Plays much more like The German French Connection than The Talented Herr Ripley, but that's more than alright under Wenders' moody, atmospheric direction. Hopper's Tom Ripley is jarringly distinct from Delon's and especially Damon's, but the verdict is still out on whether that's a good or bad thing. It doesn't make much of a difference, as this is Bruno Ganz' picture all the way; with Ripley essential a caricatured support role. The film takes a while to get going, but…

  • Toni

    Toni

    ★★★½

    1935 seems unfathomably early for many of the technical tricks on display in Toni - heavy use of J and L cuts, a lengthy and fast-paced tracking shot, and a masterful blend of realism and melodrama just to name a few - but, then again, Renoir isn't a household name for nothing, I suppose. While I wasn't bowled over by the plot and several of the performances, the technical elements and the ouroboric final sequence were quite a treat.

  • Solaris

    Solaris

    ★★★★

    An alien of unknowable intention, indefensible power, and indefinable reach. An invasion story without a single Stan Winston creature, annihilated city-center, or large-caliber gun. I'd happily place Lem's tale up there with Odyssey and Alien as top-tier sci-fi stories, without even having read the source material and based only on the adaptations. Solaris is one of the few examples of truly 'alien' aliens I can think of, and as stated previously, any depiction of intelligent life which eschews an anthropic…

  • You Only Live Once

    You Only Live Once

    ★★★★

    What a marvelous surprise. You Only Live Once feels almost like Lang satirizing the predictability of Hollywood genres by mashing so many into one film, and yet allowing them all to work with and off each other. What starts as a romantic melodrama turns into a gangster picture and ends up as a road movie before turning back around into a romance. As mentioned with Raw Deal, the plot seems unbelievably efficient, cycling through what less talented scripters would balloon…

  • Medium Cool

    Medium Cool

    ★★★½

    Though it stumbles in its second act's focus on personal relationships rather than those of macro-scale entities like government and the news media, Medium Cool sandwiches its lesser, more traditional narrative with several statements that earn the film more than enough merit as a whole. It's a film which decries the fact - impotently, for the most part - that not only does history favor the winners, but they've got a fairly firm grasp on the present and future, as…

  • Turbo

    Turbo

    ★½

    Remember, kids: as long as your juicing up was accidental, it's OK, people will love you, and your dreams will come true.

    The only reason this off-brand Cars manages anything above half a star is that the superpowered mollusk genre is drastically underrepresented in today's cinema.