REVIEW: 火垂るの墓 [Hotaru no haka] [Grave of the Fireflies] [1988]

“Please stay home with me” Everything I read and heard about Isao Takahata‘s Hotaru no haka [Grave of the Fireflies] appeared to want to prepare me for a solemnly tragic tale that couldn’t be completed without tears streaming down my face. I took this train of thought as a badge of honor—preparing its emotionality and […]

REVIEW: Oh Lucy! [2018]

“Meow. Meow. Smooch.” I saw Atsuko Hirayanagi‘s short film Oh Lucy! back in 2014 and thought it to be a bona fide charmer. It told the story of a lonely woman named Setsuko who does her niece a favor by recouping the cost of English classes the cash-strapped girl had decided quit. The American teacher […]

REVIEW: Sweet Smell of Success [1957]

“No. You’re dead, son. Get yourself buried.” The hook is simple: Steve Dallas (Martin Milner) and Susan Hunsecker (Susan Harrison) are in love, but big brother J.J. (Burt Lancaster) doesn’t approve. He hasn’t supported her with penthouses and fur coats to watch a young guitarist whisk her away, but he can’t be caught stopping them […]

REVIEW: Lou Andreas-Salomé, The Audacity to be Free [2016]

“Become who you are” There’s a great line spoken by an aged Lou Andreas-Salomé (Nicole Heesters) to new friend and potential biographer Ernst Pfeiffer (Matthias Lier) upon his praise-fueled declaration that the way she lived her life—her freedom—was a touchstone for modern feminism. Her reply is, “Nonsense. What’s changed for us women since then?” It’s […]

REVIEW: Incubo sulla città contaminata [Nightmare City] [1980]

“That sounds like science fiction” There’s a scene between Dean Miller (Hugo Stiglitz) and his wife Anna (Laura Trotter) about two-thirds of the way through Umberto Lenzi‘s Incubo sulla città contaminate [Nightmare City] where they speak about the perils of technology. After an hour of murder, death, and exposed breasts, suddenly the screenwriters decide to […]

REVIEW: Itzhak [2018]

“The more you have in your heart, the more you have to give” Documentarian Alison Chernick has made a career of profiling artists from Jeff Koons and Matthew Barney in features to Roy Lichtenstein and Rick Rubin in shorts. Her latest subject is renowned violinist Itzhak Perlman—a victim of polio as a child in Israel […]

REVIEW: An Ordinary Man [2018]

“I am myth” Despite being someone known for family friendly fare (Casper and A Series of Unfortunate Events), Brad Silberling was always the guy behind the under-rated Moonlight Mile to me. Beyond its sentimentality and contrivances, it cemented his name as one to follow. Besides 10 Items or Less, however, he career mostly shifted from […]

REVIEW: Rampage [2018]

“Even assholes deserve a second chance” To watch a play-through of Bally Midway’s 1986 arcade hit Rampage is to conjure thoughts of Wreck-It Ralph and his destructive path up a populated building to smash windows and grab bystanders. Instead of controlling a Fix-It Felix to subdue the trio of beasts wreaking havoc or a military […]

REVIEW: A Quiet Place [2018]

“I have always loved you” It’s always a risk going to a film on opening night—especially horror. The genre attracts a younger audience looking to giggle their way through the experience, oftentimes proving so obnoxiously overcompensating in their fear preparation during the preshow trailers and commercials that I wish I stayed home. So it was […]