• Network

    Network

    A patchwork of ramblings about obvious complaints. A satire that isn't particularly clever or insightful (is satire ever?). A bunch of characters who serve only one purpose: to monologue. Their relationships have no actual meaning and there is zero relevance of one person to another. Everything just exists to get us to the next sermonizing monologue. It's smug in the same way Fight Club is, and looks down on it's dimwitted audience. The ending looks like it was filmed and conceived by a high school cinema club. It's really a shame that nothing in this resembles cohesion, because William Holden is quite good in it.

  • The Last House on the Left

    The Last House on the Left

    ★★★

    It's the type of film that absolutely has to be acknowledged for it's effectiveness. It accomplishes what it sets out to do, even if Craven intermittently mismanages the tone with bumbling cop segments. I've seen this a few times in the past, but I think as I get a little older the brutality and dreary nature of the piece is too much for me to handle now. I'd highly recommend everyone see it atleast once though. It's an essential piece of 70's naturalist shock, but I'm unlikely to revisit it in the future.

  • Hail the Conquering Hero

    Hail the Conquering Hero

    ★★★½

    If this isn't Sturges' best, it's probably his funniest. How the hell did Eddie Bracken not become a major star after this? Hell, that scene at breakfast after having his epiphany alone should've catapulted him, but he's spectacular throughout. So too, is the script, which is loaded with brilliant one-liners and great supporting characters. A particular favorite was the soldier without a mother constantly sabotaging Woodrow. Certain elements aren't as wonderful, like Raymond Walburn as the mayor or Bill Edwards…

  • Sullivan's Travels

    Sullivan's Travels

    ★★★½

    The first forty-five minutes of this are a rollercoaster I never wanted to get off. Whether it's the hilarious and lightning quick dialogue or the nearly perfect romantic setup between McCrea and Lake, this is screwball perfection. Veronica Lake is not only beautiful, but a great actress in this. She's funny, sympathetic, and the banter with McCrea is always on point. It's truly a wonder she didn't become a much bigger star than she turned out to be. Rumor has…

  • The Great McGinty

    The Great McGinty

    ★★½

    The story goes that Sturges was tired of directors not correctly translating his scripts to film so he decided to lobby the studios to direct them himself. After seeing his first effort, I can't really imagine why. The static, lifeless direction of The Great McGinty is easily it's weak point. Another issue is the lack of conviction from McGinty himself, who seems to just be a pawn in the script's machinations. We learn little about him as a person, other…

  • Another Year

    Another Year

    ★★★★

    Lesley Manville didn't even get a Best Actress nomination for her performance here. Let that sink in a bit if you ever wonder why nobody really gives the Oscars any merit in serious circles. This, like all of the best Mike Leigh films, is a study in how engrossing films consisting of only great acting and extended dialogue scenes can be if done properly. Manville is the standout, but everyone is good here. Leigh is an expert on loneliness, and…

  • Topsy-Turvy

    Topsy-Turvy

    ★★½

    I don't always advocate for traditional protagonist/antagonist and conflict structures in films, but damn this really lacked the basics of drama. Sullivan's initial dilemma of artistic stagnation is quickly overcome and discarded, and the lack of stakes from then on hamper the film immensely. Mike Leigh mostly tries to succeed on the performance element of his actors which is admittedly strong, but what his other films had that this doesn't is strong characters. The line readings are all tremendous and…

  • Beetlejuice

    Beetlejuice

    ★★½

    It had been many years since I watched this in full, and was completely unsure of what to expect. I've always considered Burton to be a terrible director, so I was apprehensive when considering his "prime" years. As it turns out, he never really had a prime. As a filmmaker, his ability to construct a narrative, build momentum, or even display some semblance of editing rhythm is basically non-existent. Things just sort of happen in Beetlejuice, and my patience with…

  • Gran Torino

    Gran Torino

    ★★★

    Luckily Eastwood is in nearly ever scene in Gran Torino, because everything that isn't Eastwood is pretty dreadful. The character of Walt and Eastwood's performance are stellar throughout, and he is consistently magnetic. It's a shame this script and the other actors are no better than a low-grade sitcom, and it's view of "street" dialogue is laughable. It's just too un-even to be a success, as the experience of watching it makes you temporarily bi-polar.

  • Two Rode Together

    Two Rode Together

    ★★★★

    This is like The Searchers unfiltered. It's taking the themes presented there, removing the subtlety and pushing them a few steps further. McCabe is Ethan Edwards on steroids, and his speech to Marty is essentially what Ethan left unsaid. A lack of subtlety could be considered a negative, but I quite liked the direct approach this takes. It comes across more unflinching than catering. It's easily Ford's darkest, as even the visual scheme is muted to the point where exterior…

  • Nights of Cabiria

    Nights of Cabiria

    Another Fellini and another dud. This one gave me some horrible Mizoguchi flashbacks. Fellini and Mizoguchi, for my money, are the two most overrated directors in cinema history. This is like a cross between The Life of Oharu and La Dolce Vita with all the downfalls of the former and none of the virtues of the latter. Women throughout history have been treated as objects and overall bad by men. True, but did we need two hours of incoherent, random…

  • La Strada

    La Strada

    This film, and in broader terms, Fellini, suck. Not only is it another shitty neo-realist film where realism=misery, but this one throws in his wife as a Chaplin clone wandering around this misery plot with a whole lot of annoying cutesy facial expressions. I can just imagine Fellini behind the camera "Now give us another one of those wide eyed wondrous looks! You're full of whimsy!" Fellini is horrible with narrative, but what themes is he exploring? Life can be…