Adam McKay

2004
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy 85
[ I thought Will Ferrell was one of the funniest men alive all through his Saturday Night Live run and I liked the bits parts he’s played over the years, but I found “Elf” shockingly unfunny. Since then, I’ve been wondering if maybe Ferrell’s brand of lunacy worked only in short doses, like a SNL skit or a cameo in someone else’s flick. Not to worry, my friends, it turns out that Will can be consistently hilarious for 90 minutes, he just needs more than tired fish-out-of-water silliness and holiday schmaltz.With “Anchorman”, Ferrell’s written himself a perfect vehicle for his shameless overacting. There was also obviously much room left for improvisation, and the atmosphere is one of barely controlled insanity. Ferrell’s hard-drinking, ass-grabbing anchorman is surrounded by an equally misogynistic and moronic news team, and Paul Rudd, David Koechner and especially Steve Carrell are almost as game and funny as Ferrell. Then there’s Christina Applegate, who’s stuck with the straight part of the ambitious journalist who threatens Channel 4’s little boys club, but there’s hardly such a thing as “straight” in this movie so she gets to do silly stuff too. The film also features the great Fred Willard, SNL’s Chris Parnell and Fred Armisen, Ferrell’s “Old School” co-stars Luke Wilson and Vince Vaughn, and a great cameo by Jack Black.Director and co-writer Adam McKay does a relatively good job at making this into an actual movie instead of a series of funny scenes. The film is set in the ‘70s and it’s not only reflected in the attitudes, bad hair and tacky style, McKay has actually shot his film to look like it was made in the ‘70s. There’s also some truly over the top bits involving gladiator weaponry, jazz flute and grizzly bears, but there’s no point in me running down a list of the countless things that made me laugh. Great Odin’s Raven, just go see the damn movie! ]


2006
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby 83
[ review ]


2008
Step Brothers 72
[ review ]


2010
The Other Guys 66
[ review ]


2013
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues 68
[ review ]

/>

2015
The Big Short 84
[ Reviewed on Extra Beurre ]

Werner Herzog

1968
Signs of Life

1970
Even Dwarfs Started Small 57
[ Herzog’s nucking futs. How else to explain his making a movie about nothing but midgets messing around, midgets riding motorbikes and cars, midgets tearing down trees, midgets laughing hysterically, midgets chasing chickens and pigs, midgets looking at porno mags, midgets teasing blind midgets, midgets burning stuff, midgets smashing dinner plates, midgets talking a lot of nonsense in German and, of course, midgets crucifying a monkey. This is all pointless and insane and disturbing… But it does make for a memorable dwarfsterpiece. ]

1971
Land of Silence and Darkness

1971
Fata Morgana


1972
Aguirre, the Wrath of God 98
[ review ]

1974
The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser

1976
Heart of Glass

1977
Stroszek

1979
Nosferatu the Vampyre

1979
Woyzeck

1982
Fitzcarraldo

1984
Where the Green Ants Dream

1987
Cobra Verde

1990
Echoes From a Somber Empire

1991
Scream of Stone

1993
Bells from the Deep

1997
Little Dieter Needs to Fly

1999
My Best Fiend

2001
Invincible

2003
Wheel of Time

2004
The White Diamond


2005
Grizzly Man 90
[ review ]

The Wild Blue Yonder


2007
Rescue Dawn 83
[ Ten years after devoting a documentary to it (“Little Dieter Needs to Fly”), Werner Herzog explores once again the incredible story of Dieter Dengler (Christian Bale, hot-headed), a German immigrant turned US Air Force pilot who, during his first mission, was shot down and captured by Laotian guerillas. Kept prisoner in the worst conditions for two years, he eventually organizes a daring escape, only to find that getting away from the guards was a piece of cake next to the perils of the jungle surrounding the camp. Herzog’s first Hollywood flick, while probably his most commercial (the bookends on the army ship are practically out of “Top Gun”!), remains faithful to his thematic obsessions, namely man’s insignificance in the face of nature and the return to a primitive state of survival, away from the precepts of civilization. We also recognize his quasi-documentary point of view and, paradoxically, his sense of majestic imagery. There’s even a dwarf! As for Bale, this isn’t is best performance but he’s riveting as always, and it’s interesting how this part echoes both “Empire of the Sun” (where his character was also in a POW camp) and “The Machinist” (for the disturbing loss of weight). ]

Encounters at the End of the World


2009
The Bad Lieutenant – Port of Call: New Orleans 70
[ This is a very loose remake of the 1992 Abel Ferrara cult film in which Harvey Keitel played the a corrupted, perverted, utterly fucked up cop. Here, it’s Nicolas Cage who’s doing all the drugs, abusing his power and getting his kink on, which allows the actor to deliver one of the most bizarre, over the top performances of his career. Which is saying a lot, considering how quirky Cage almost always is in his roles! In this regard, Herzog is helping him a lot, throwing in all kind of weird shit, most notably a bunch of hallucinatory iguanas. Shot around moody, flavorful New Orleans locations and featuring a solid supporting cast (Eva Mendes, Xzibit, Val Kilmer, Brad Dourif, Jennifer Coolidge, Shawn Hatosy, Michael Shannon, Shea Whigham, Fairuza Balk, etc.), “The Bad Lieutenant – Port of Call: New Orleans” is the kind of police thriller in which the murder invistagation that initially seems to be central to the story soon turns out to be an afterthought, the main show clearly being the many ways Herzog and Cage manage to fuck with our minds. ]

My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done 73
[ “Ever since he came back from Peru he’s been strange. Well, not so much strange as… different.” Cut to a shot of a foggy mountainscape in Peru, where Herzog famously shot such films as “Aguirre, the Wrath of God” and “Fitzcarraldo” with glorious madman Klaus Kinski… And to a degree, you could put the great Michael Shannon in that category. What an intense, unsettling presence this guy can have! Especially when he’s playing a character as strange/different as the protagonist of this film, a deeply disturbed individual obsessed with his inner voice, visions of God, Greek tragedy and whatnot. The stop-and-go, flashback-littered structure is a bit iffy, but “My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done” almost always remains engrossing from scene to scene thanks to offbeat dialogue, striking cinematography and that towering performance from Shannon, plus strong supporting performances from the likes of Willem Dafoe, Chloë Sevigny, Michael Peña, Grace Zabriskie, Brad Dourif and Udo Kier. “Why is the whole world staring at me?”  ]

2010
Cave of Forgotten Dreams

2011
Into the Abyss

Brian De Palma

1963
The Wedding Party
1968
Murder à la Mod
Greetings
1970
Hi, Mom!
1972
Get to Know Your Rabbit


1973
Sisters 75
[ Dealing with voyeurism, multiple identities and sexual impulses leading to violence, on top of discarding its protagonist after the first act and featuring a great Bernard Herrman score, this is clearly De Palma’s take on “Psycho”… But in some ways, it’s even more twisted, kinky and bizarre, throwing in Siamese twins, a “Peeping Toms” gameshow, a cleverly used pull-out couch (!) and split-screen sequences. Also wildly entertaining: Margot Kidder as the French Canadian model/actress who’s being stalked by her creepy ex-husband and harassed by her formerly conjoined sister. ]

1974
Phantom of the Paradise 95
[ For some reason, I didn’t expect this to be a 100-proof De Palma movie. Before seeing this for the first time today – as part of Roland Smith’s “Les films de ma vie” screening series at gorgeous Théâtre Outremont – I expected a somewhat conventional musical, not this decadent, grotesque, wildly imaginative horror musical with all kinds of awesome stylistic flourishes. This is no less than one of De Palma’s best films, a brilliantly designed, shot and cut rock opera with great songs and music by Paul Williams, who also plays the mysterious Swan. Co-starring a pre-Suspiria Jessica Harper as Phoenix, the amazing William Finley as The Phantom (who kinda sounds like Christian Bale’s Batman!) and my favorite, Gerrit Graham as androgynous rock star Beef, Phantom of the Paradise is a pure dose of cinematic thrills, chills and spills. ]

1976
Obsession

Carrie 93
[ review ]

1978
The Fury

1980
Home Movies

Dressed to Kill 87
[ review ]


1981
Blow Out 95
[ review ]


1983
Scarface 92
[ review ]


1984
Body Double 76
[ review ]

1986
Wise Guys


1987
The Untouchables 77
[ This is a cop drama, a gangster movie and a quasi-Western, too, what with the Ennio Morricone score and stuff. All of which is really engrossing, thanks to the hardboiled David Mamet and the show-offy De Palma set pieces and long takes, sure. But also because of the great cast led by Kevin Costner as Elliot Ness, who’s well supported by Andy Garcia, Charles Martin Smith and, last but not least, Sean Connery at his most badass. Watch out as well for a young Patty Clarkson as Ness’ wife and, of course, the great Robert De Niro chewing a whole lot of scenery as Al Capone! ]

1989
Casualties of War

1990
The Bonfire of the Vanities

1992
Raising Cain


1993
Carlito’s Way 90
[ review ]


1996
Mission: Impossible 72
[ review ]


1998
Snake Eyes 79
[ review ]

2000
Mission to Mars

2002
Femme Fatale 62
[ I like Brian De Palma as much as the next guy, and “Femme Fatale” is certainly a well crafted, fun thriller. Still, I don’t get the 4 star reviews the likes of Roger Ebert have appraised the film with. De Palma pulls a few nice set pieces here, notably a bait-and-switch diamond heist at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival set to a quasi-Bolero score, and it’s nifty how most of the storytelling is done visually (and what dialogue there is is almost all in French!). But with all the violence, sleazy sex and preposterous twists, how is this different than “Original Sin” (which also stars Antonio Banderas as the patsy)? Rebecca Romijn-Stamos is hot as hell in the lead, but De Palma is falling apart under his own stylistic and thematic fixations. At least he does entertainingly so. ]

2006
The Black Dahlia

2007
Redacted 68
[ Like his Vietnam film, “Casualties of War”, De Palma’s latest is not so much a war movie than a story about deshumanization. Inspired by the rape and murder of an Iraki teenage girl by American soldiers, “Redacted” takes the form of a series of amateur videos, news reports, security camera footage, and excerpts from a documentary with slick visuals and pompous music (De Palma borrowed the “Barry Lyndon” score). Hardly subtle, but an effective exercise in style. ]

Judd Apatow

1999
Freaks and Geeks
[ I remember stumbling on an episode or two of this (“Undeclared”, too) on TV back in the day, but finally sitting down to watch this series now is particularly cool, as you can see all these future stars of Apatow productions: Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, James Franco… And Linda Cardellini and John Francis Daley, who are pretty much the leads here, are as endearing as it gets. Samm Levine and Martin Starr are also great, especially the latter, who might just be the funniest guy on the show. ]


2001
Undeclared

2005
The 40 Year Old Virgin 74
[ review ]

2007
Knocked Up 69
[ review ]

2009
Funny People 79
[ review ]

2012
This Is 40 45
[ I’m a Judd Apatow fan, so I don’t know why this movie didn’t work for me… Maybe it just rubbed me the wrong way, maybe I’m just not at that place in my life? Basically, for the most part, I could hardly like these characters and laugh with them. I was totally bummed by this depiction of an aging married couple that’s growing ever more resentful of each other while also dealing with all kinds of shit regarding their kids, their parents, money and whatnot. I love Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann’s great as well, so that went a long way towards keeping me involved, but ultimately, I can’t say I enjoyed spending time with their characters. There’s also the fact that the screenplay is pretty shapeless, with no clear beginning, middle and end. It’s all just a bunch of mostly unfortunate turns of event piled up one on top of each other. Again, I’m doubting myself here because I’m not used to not having a lot of fun when I’m watching an Apatow flick, but that’s that. ]

2015
Trainwreck 62
[ Même si pour la première fois, il ne signe pas le scénario, Trainwreck souffre des défauts d’à peu près tous les films de Judd Apatow. D’abord, le rythme est inégal (le film dure plus de deux heures, alors qu’une version resserée de 90 minutes aurait été plus efficace). Ensuite, on dirait souvent qu’Apatow ne veut pas vraiment faire une comédie, alors il y a de plus en plus de scènes dramatiques, surtout vers la fin, si bien qu’on oublie presque à quel point la première moitié du film nous a fait rire. Car oui, pendant un bon moment, Trainwreck fait beaucoup rire. La scénariste et actrice principale Amy Schumer a créé un personnage hilarant, prénommé Amy comme elle, qui semble avoir tous les vices : elle dit toujours des vulgarités, elle se saoule constamment, elle fume du pot, elle couche avec tout ce qui bouge… On est loin de la protagoniste typique d’une comédie romantique! Les gags fusent de toutes parts et Amy livre des tonnes de répliques mémorablement déplacées, mais Schumer a aussi écrit des bonnes lignes pour les autres membres de la vaste distribution de soutien, notamment Tilda Swinton, méconnaissable dans le rôle de la rédactrice en chef du magazine pour lequel Amy travaille, Vanessa Bayer dans le rôle d’une de ses collègues, Colin Quinn dans le rôle de son père, le lutteur John Cena dans le rôle d’un de ses amants réguliers, et le joueur de basket-ball LeBron James dans son propre rôle. Ces deux derniers en particulier sont vraiments drôles, quelque chose pour quoi on ne les connaissait pas vraiment. Et puis il y a Bill Hader dans le rôle d’un médecin sportif qui parvient tant bien que mal à gagner le coeur de la reine des histoires d’un soir qu’est Amy. Hader est excellent, mais ses scènes font souvent partie de la portion plus sentimentale et dramatique du film qui, sans être inintéressante, jure un peu avec les excès comiques qui caractérisent autrement Trainwreck et contribue à ralentir le rythme, au point où on dénote certaines longueurs. Qui plus est, alors qu’une des meilleures choses à propos du film était le personnage éhonteusement débauché d’Amy, elle en vient éventuellement à regretter son mode de vie désinhibé et à vouloir devenir une “meilleure” personne… Ou, du moins, quelqu’un de plus conventionnel, comme le film, qui n’est finalement pas si audacieux que ça. ]

Denys Arcand

1970
On est au coton 77
[ A prime example of cinema direct, this first feature documentary by Denys Arcand achieved mythical status because of how it was censored for more than 30 years by the National Film Board of Canada. Only recently has the full, uncut version been made available, and it reveals itself to be a bit ahead of its time, kinda like a Michael Moore movie done long before Michael Moore came around with his “Roger & Me” (just look at the classic bit where a smirking Arcand deals with a cop!). Ostensibly about the textile industry, “On est au coton” digs deeper and gives us an overview of the dark side of capitalism in general, of the pains of the working class and of the resilience (or resignation?) of poor French Canadians. The stark B&W footage shot inside factories and the deafening ambient sound that comes with it convey effectively the alienating nature of work in these places, but Arcand goes beyond this impressionistic approach to also give the people a chance to express themselves, which gives the film a humanist quality. Cleverly cross-cutting between the interviews with the company president and the workers, the movie also touches upon the union battles that have been waged and the way politics play into all this. At nearly three hours in length, it gives us a lot to process in one viewing, but it’s worth the effot. ]
1972
Québec: Duplessis et après… 72
[ This documentary quite interestingly attempts to prove that, in covering the 1970 Québec election, one can catch glimpses of the same traits put forward by the infamous Duplessis during the 20-some years he spent as Prime Minister. The film also uses excerpts from the Durham report to illustrate how things have or haven’t changed over the years. But beside those clever gimmicks, this is most fascinating for the chance to see vintage footage (speeches, interviews, etc.) of great old-school politicians like Bernard Landry, Claude Charron and René Lévesque, back when they were actually very much new-school. And then there are all those other candidates who are either terminally dull (Robert Bourassa) or ridiculously over the top (Camil Samson). ]
La maudite galette

 

1973
Réjeanne Padovani 64
[ A dark, leisurely paced portrait of politicians hobnobbing with gangsters on the eve of the inauguration of a new highway, this early Arcand film seems to be somewhat influenced by “The Godfather” stylistically, while content-wise, it exposes a lot of the dirty secrets about Quebec high society that the director discovered during his documentary making years. It’s all quite fascinating, even though the film can be a bit too dry. ]


1975
Gina 78
[ It’s quite sly how Arcand made both a film about the making-of of his controversial documentary “On est au coton” and the Québec version of a 1970s exploitation flick, with sex, violence… and snowmobiles! Set in Louiseville, where Gabriel Arcand, Serge Thériault and their crew are shooting a movie about the textile industry, it also revolves around the title character, a stripper played by Céline Lomez who befriends the filmmakers and ends up getting into trouble with a snowmobile gang led by Claude Blanchard. This leads to a surprisingly badass and well-crafted climax, which is practically on the level of something Tarantino would have made, or at least something he would enjoy watching in an old, gritty B-movie. ]


1982
Le Confort et l’indiférence 85
[ What a tragedy… Using the teachings of Machiavelli as a framing device, this documentary depicts the failed 1980 referendum that could have made Québec independent, if it wasn’t for the Canadian political and capitalist elites’ shenanigans and, to be honest, the fact that so many of us are Elvis Gratton-style idiots. I’m not sure if that was his intention or not, but Arcand shows that that’s the main reason why we’ll never have a country: people’s stupidity, laziness, apathy, greed, cowardice… I mean, damn, how could you listen to a great man like René Lévesque, whose speeches (as sampled here) were so intelligent and heartfelt, and not want Québec to be a sovereign nation? Especially when his counterparts (Trudeau, Chrétien, Ryan, Samson, etc.) are so obviously full of shit? A tragedy, I tell ya… ]

1984
Le Crime d’Ovide Plouffe


1986
Le Déclin de l’empire américain 43
[ The film opens with a university teacher telling his students that History is all about numbers, i.e. South Africans can overcome yet African-Americans never will. “History is not a moral science.” Interesting. Then we have the Head of the History Department talking to a reporter about how “the expectation of receiving instant gratification in daily life constitutes the normative parameter of existence.” Bleh, not so interesting anymore. This is a pretentious filmmaker setting loose pretentious characters to make pretentious audiences nod in recognition, “Aren’t we sophisticated and erudite?” But the filmmaker/characters don’t want to seem pretentious, of course, so they start talking about and having sex. And there’s your “Déclin”, a wildly overrated film alternating a few actual insights with a lot of tedious intellectual grandstanding and genitals-gazing. ]


1989
Jésus de Montréal 90
[ A modern retelling of the Passion of Christ, with Lothaire Bluteau as a local actor who plays Jesus in a live play being staged on Mont-Royal and ends up sharing his character’s fate. Both a wickedly funny satire aimed at the media and organized religion and a moving spiritual journey, this is writer-director Arcand at his most effective. ]

1993
Love & Humain Remains


2000
Stardom 37
[ This satire of our media-addicted society and of the cult of youth and beauty is notable for its clever use of various film and TV styles to tell the story of a hockey player turned model turned trophy wife (played by the astonishingly gorgeous Jessica Paré) but, quite ironically, it’s generally as superficial and inconsequential as its subject. ]


2003
Les Invasions barbares 88
[ review ]


2007
L’Âge des ténèbres 0
“J’me suis dit, je l’fais, d’la marde.”
– Denys Arcand, after the FNC screening, candidly
explaining that he had a feeling this movie
wouldn’t work but decided to make it anyway.

Oh, of course I’d been aware of the noxious buzz coming off this movie over the last six months, as it’s been befuddling critics in Cannes, in Toronto and in France. But damn! One of the things I hate the most about critics is groupthink: when everyone is hating on a movie, it usually turns out that it’s not so bad. That’s what I thought here, as I was reading about how this was a “film de vieux con” and “le film de trop d’un auteur claquemuré dans une rancoeur stérile”. It couldn’t be that bad, right? WRONG! It’s worse. So, so much worse. It’s not only the worst movie Denys Arcand’s ever made (“Stardom” is genius in comparison), it might be the worst movie any world-class filmmaker has ever made. I mean, I don’t like everything Ang Lee or Gus Van Sant make, but you’re always guaranteed a minimum of interesting artistic input. Here, at best, Arcand is feebly rehashing his own work.

Otherwise, “L’âge des ténèbres” is filled with the most obvious, aimless, unfunny satire, not to mention endless ranting, idiotic skits and pointless cameos from Québécois or French stars (amongst those embarrassing themselves here: Thierry Ardisson, Bernard Pivot, Véronique Cloutier, Chantal Lacroix, Gaston Lepage, Michel Rivard & Marie-Michèle Desrosiers, Pauline Martin, Christian Bégin, my man Mathieu Baron). In bigger parts, Sylvie Léonard and Caroline Néron are also atrocious, and Arcand manages the impossible feat of making the usually wonderful Marc Labrèche (who’s the star of this witless rip-off of “American Beauty”) dull. His character is intended to be boring, I know, but even his dreams are a bore!

As you may know, it’s been suggested that this is the last in a thematic trilogy which started with “Le déclin de l’empire américain”, which I also dislike, but nowhere near as much. That first movie in Arcand’s Bourgeois Baby Boomer trilogy showed BBBs at their “peak”, observing the decline of civilization around them but remaining smug and enjoying the smell of their own farts. I actually love the middle film in this triptych, “Les invasions barbares”, maybe because it’s more human, less self-content, as if the BBBs had realized the err of their ways and were now trying to be open-minded towards the younger generation. Alas, that didn’t last. In “L’âge des ténèbres”, that open mind is slammed shut and chooses to reject post-BBB society wholesale, with infinite bitterness, pessimism and contempt. Thanks, but no thanks. ]

Francis Ford Coppola

1963
Dementia 13

1966
You’re a Big Boy Now

1968
Finian’s Rainbow

1969
The Rain People


1972
The Godfather 100
[ review ]

1974
The Conversation 82
[ Surveillance, obsession, paranoia… This low-key thriller starring Gene Hackman is clearly a precursor to “Blow Out”, but I gotta say: ultimately, I prefer De Palma’s film to Coppola’s. ]

The Godfather Part II 95
[ review ]


1979
Apocalypse Now 100
[ review ]


1982
One from the Heart 57
[ Coppola’s follow-up to his masterpiece “Apocalypse Now” was a spectacular box-office and critical failure, and you can kinda see why. “One from the Heart” is uneven and oddly stylized, like some sort of highly theatrical live television drama, Frederic Forrest and Teri Garr aren’t very exciting in the leads and the characters they play are hard to follow and care about as they fall in and out of love over and over. On the other hand, the movie does have delightful supporting turns by Raul Julia and Nastassja Kinski, a great Tom Waits song score and brilliantly colourful and inventive cinematography. It’s a failure alright, but a darn interesting one. ]

1983
The Outsiders

Rumble Fish

1984
The Cotton Club


1986
Peggy Sue Got Married 79
[ review ]

1987
Gardens of Stone

1988
Tucker: The Man and His Dream

1989
Life Without Zoe 12
[ Coppola’s contribution to New York Stories is an absolutely annoying short about a snotty rich girl involved, her touting musician father and model mother, a stolen diamond and a rich boy. It’s all corny and boring, it’s badly written and directed and the acting is awful, not to mention the suck-ass music. If you know what’s good for you, fast-forward through this dud. ]


1990
The Godfather Part III 70
[ review ]

1992
Bram Stoker’s Dracula

1996
Jack

1997
The Rainmaker


2007
Youth Without Youth 39
[ Scorsese finally won the Oscar, Spielberg and Lucas just did a new “Indiana Jones. Coppola? After 10 years away, he comes back with what he says is a particularly personal film, but between us, it’s actually mostly a dull mess. Starring Tim Roth as a 70-something professor who miraculously finds himself young again after being struck by lighting, this incoherent tale also involves a Nazi scientist, the American secret services, a doppelgänger of Roth’s character, and a young woman who seems to be the reincarnation of his dead wife AND to be possessed by a mystical Indian figure. “Youth Without Youth” is an ambitious picture and there are some interesting ideas here and there about the nature of time and memory, but the screenplay is all over the place, alternately didactic and obtuse, and entirely devoid of a compelling narrative drive. It’s at its best when it embraces how melodramatic, absurd and pulpy this material is. Alas, more often than not, Coppola takes himself way too seriously and this David Lynch knockoff is ultimately a spectacular failure. ]

2009
Tetro

Andrei Tarkovsky

1962
Ivan’s Childhood

1966
Andrei Rublev

1972
Solaris

1975
The Mirror


1979
Stalker 96
[ “‘What was it? A meteorite? A visit of inhabitants of the cosmic abyss? One way or another, our small country has seen the birth of a miracle – the Zone. We immediately sent troops there. They haven’t come back. Then we surrounded the Zone with police cordons… Perhaps, that was the right thing to do. Though, I don’t know…’
– From an interview with Nobel Prize winner Professor Wallace.”

Sepia-toned cinematography. A lot of long, meticulously composed shots. The most amazing locations. Extended stretches that are dialogue-free, but that make captivating use of ambient sound (trains, mostly). Other scenes are full of dialogue about all kinds of fascinating things (truth, inspiration, conscious and subconscious desires). Actors with interesting faces, full of character and personality even though they’re only referred to as Stalker, Writer, Professor. We’re already riveted before we even get to the Zone, about 35 minutes into the film, and this Russian art film turns to color (like when Dorothy lands in Oz in Victor Fleming’s film!) and full-on fantastic/metaphysical. From that point forwards, this is one of these extremely rare films where you have absolutely no idea where it’s going from one moment to the next. Is this an adventure movie? Sci-fi? A philosophical or religious allegory? I’ll let you discover for yourself, but one thing’s for sure: this is a masterpiece. ]

1983
Nostalghia

1986
The Sacrifice

Bryan Singer

1993
Public Access


1995
The Usual Suspects 81
[ review ]


1998
Apt Pupil 66
[ review ]


2000
X-Men 90
[ review ]


2003
X2: X-Men United 90
[ review ]


2006
Superman Returns 75
[ review ]


2008
Valkyrie 72
[ I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I like Tom Cruise. Heck, I love the guy, and I enjoyed watching him play the Hollywood, almost comic-book version of a Nazi, eyepatch and all. Especially since, while it might seems at first that Bryan Singer and screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie are going for “Saving Private Ryan”-style Important Drama, it soon turns out that this is more of a pulpy conspiracy/men on a mission thriller. Of course, we know from History that said mission failed, but that creates another kind of suspense, as we’re constantly wondering when, where and how things will go wrong. “Valkyrie” is a slick, well-oiled machine, with the bonus advantage that, to paraphrase Soderbergh re: “The Limey”, its greatest special effects are the presence in the cast of such great actors as Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Christian Berkel and yes, Terence Stamp. ]

2013
Jack the Giant Slayer

2014
X-Men: Days of Future Past  77
[ review ]

2016
X-Men: Apocalypse  63
[ Reviewed on Extra Beurre ]