Favorite films

  • L.A. Story
  • The Saragossa Manuscript
  • Das Boot
  • Tenebre

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  • Another Round

    ★★★

  • The Descent

    ★★★½

  • The Big Lebowski

    ★★★★★

  • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

    ★★★½

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  • Inherent Vice

    Inherent Vice

    ★★★★★

    Why should things be easy to understand?

    — T. Pynchon

    I doubt we'll see another of Thomas Pynchon's stupendous stories adapted for the screen; and in a way, I hope we don't: Paul Thomas Anderson's Inherent Vice is the kind of miraculous manifestation that happens once, like a wave that crests and hangs, suspending time, before collapsing under the weight of its own perfection. You could say the same of the counterculture, in whose backwash muttonchopped PI Doc Sportello finds…

  • Withnail & I

    Withnail & I

    ★★★★★

    Ah, Withnail. Like most of my peers, I watched this too many times to count between the ages of 18 and 21, but without ever really appreciating the currents of desperation and despair that flow through the film, or just how poignant their consummation is. It was always on in the background when you went round to someone's place, and what emerged through the fug of inebriation were the endless quotable lines, Richard E. Grant's manic shrieking, Uncle Monty's bombast,…

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  • Another Round

    Another Round

    ★★★

    Booze resembles religion in that we can never know, no matter how earnestly we imbibe, what it’s like for our fellow adherents (still less for abstainers). Drinking with friends or strangers is drinking alone; to drink alone is to drink even more alone. It’s like Tolstoy’s dictum of all unhappy families being differently unhappy: except drinking makes you differently happy, too.

    The best alcohol stories acknowledge this intrinsic interiority by situating you inside the skin of the drinker so you…

  • The Descent

    The Descent

    ★★★½

    In which five attractive, toned, adventurous young white women and one attractive, toned, adventurous young Asian woman get into bother on account of some troglodytes. The lighting or absence of it makes the subterranean setting convincingly claustrophobic and director Marshall expertly cranks the dread-o-meter, abetted by a pleasingly oomphy orchestral score. The Morlocks when we finally get to meet them are very impressive lads and could slaver for their country, if slavering were ever to gain official Olympic status. With…

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  • The Big Lebowski

    The Big Lebowski

    ★★★★★

    I was going to mention briefly this film's penile connoisseurship, its celebration of the ludicrous fragility of the "Johnson". I've been buried deep in Caro's biography of Lyndon B. Johnson, which mentions LBJ's pride in his own namesake, how he'd swing it around in the locker room like a hand to be shaken. But pride goeth before a fall, and the Dude is hyper-aware of that adage with regard to his own dude, fearing the red-suited nihilists with ceremonial snippers.…

  • L.A. Story

    L.A. Story

    ★★★★★

    I love everything about this criminally underrated fantasy. I love Richard E. Grant's oleaginous English smarm. I love Rick Moranis's cockney gravedigger. I love the set pieces — the choreographed fountains, the freeway duel, the "I'll be your robber" scene. I love Patrick Stewart and L'Idiot. I love — and I seem to be the only one — everything about Victoria Tennant's performance, full of quirk and bafflement and "deep sustained booming sounds". I love Andrew Dunn's cinematography, its gauzy,…