Thursday, January 10, 2019

Top 15 Films of 2018

Certain years are better for movies than others. In fact, there have been a few years when I’ve struggled to think of 10 worthy films to highlight in my year-end list. But 2018 started strong early, and kept delivering solid movies from talented filmmakers. And while a number of the most talked about films from this year didn’t fully work for me, here are the movies from 2018 that hit me the hardest.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Top 61 Things I Love About Die Hard (that no one talks about)

Every holiday season is a good reminder that it’s time to rewatch Die Hard. Not that we need a specific reason watch this film, as it remains one of the finest action films ever made. But here, I take a look at some aspects of the film that aren’t talked about a lot, including revelatory camera movement, audacious editing, violence depicted accurately, the joy in action, and why backdrops beat CG every time. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Top 15 Pure Cinema Moments That Make Me Cry

“Pure cinema” can be defined any number of ways. Lately, it seems to be an alternative meaning for avant-garde cinema, but for me, a pure cinema moment is when a movie utilizes varies aspects of production (direction, cinematography, performance, music, editing) and marries them together flawlessly. Such moments can make us sit up right. They can give us chills, and they can, in the most special of instances, cause us to cry. 

Below are 15 such moments for me. This is far from an all-encompassing list; these were simply 15 pure cinema moments that I felt like sharing. Please do feel free to share your favorite pure cinema moments as well!

Wednesday, November 28, 2018


I was admittedly curious to witness Steve McQueen’s approach to Widows. For my money, Steve McQueen is one of the finest filmmakers we have. He’s responsible for two movie masterpieces (Hunger and Shame), and the finest cinematic narrative document about American slavery (12 Years a Slave). Why then, I carefully wondered, would he embark on such a conventional genre like the heist thriller?

Upon seeing Widows, which is based on a British television series from the ‘80s, the answer was obvious: In order to avoid the conventions of the heist film, McQueen abandons them and creates his own unique narrative.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Reviews: 2018 Netflix Films

Netflix is determined to change the way we watch movies. According to Forbes, Netflix spent $13 billion on original content in 2018. And while most of that is for a seemingly endless string of new TV shows, Netflix seems poised to finally throw their weight toward major movies.

On the eve of Netflix dropping potential heavy-hitters like The Other Side of the Wind (which was released a few days), Outlaw King, Bird Box, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, and Roma, I thought it’d be fun to take a look at some recent notable releases.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

First Man

When I look back at the times in my life that represent moments of proud achievement, those moments were almost always followed by a curious sense of melancholy. This used to bother me a great deal. Why do I feel sad after I’ve worked so hard to accomplish this goal? What’s missing? I’ve since learned that this is quite common. After achieving something you’ve worked so hard for, it’s not unusual to be left with a feeling of longing. What the hell do I do now? Where do I go from here? What now?

That feel of achievement-based melancholy is represented so well in Damien Chazelle’s new, appropriately thrilling and patient film, First Man.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Top 10 Sean Bobbitt Films

It’s getting harder for me to contain my excitement for the release of Steve McQueen’s Widows next month. With only a few weeks to go, I thought it’d be fun to dive into the work of McQueen’s longtime cinematographer, Sean Bobbitt. And while Bobbitt is perhaps best knows for lensing McQueen’s four feature films, his work elsewhere certainly should not be overlooked.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Assassination Nation

There is a camera shot in Assassination Nation that cannot be ignored. It’s a shot so well executed that it instinctually caused me to sit back in my chair in awe, before leaning forward to get as close to the movie theater screen as possible, in an attempt understand how in the hell the shot was being pulled off. The shot more or less kicks off the final act of the film, an act of pure, violent madness; of destruction and holy fuck chaos.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

In Character: Jeff Goldblum

Jeff Goldblum has a persona all his own. The man is a singular talent, to be confused with no one. But beyond his endlessly amusing and eccentric personality, he’s a true actor who can play any type of role. There are so many classic Golblum performances to choose from, below is a collection of only a few.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

An Exhaustive and Unofficial Guide to Film Commentaries

As a lifelong lover of movies, and a filmmaker for more than 10 years, I can honestly tell you that I have learned more about film and filmmaking from DVD and Blu-Ray commentaries than I have from any other single source.

I’ve listened to thousands of commentaries, and there is almost always something to gleam from them. If you love a movie, a commentary can make you appreciate the film even more. Or, perhaps more significantly, a great commentary can give a fresh perspective to a movie you were otherwise lukewarm about.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Top 82 Things I Love about 25th Hour (that no one talks about)

Spike Lee’s 25th hour is one of the best, most important films made so far this century. It’s a movie I’ve talked about a lot on this blog, but this post a comprehensive dive into the things I love most about the movie. As Lee’s BlackKklansman currently makes waves in theaters, here’s a look into one of Spike Lee’s masterpieces.

Friday, August 3, 2018

In Character: Christopher Meloni

Christopher Meloni is one of my favorite working actors. He has a magnetism that is so apparent in all of his work. Whether he's being absurd or psychotic, he can draw you in with equal weight. Here’s a look at Meloni’s best work, which often, remarkably, varies wildly in tone from role to role.

Monday, July 16, 2018

the Directors: Paul Schrader

Paul Schrader has made everything from brash pieces of exploitation to sensitive masterworks. At first glance, it’s easy to write Schrader off as an agent of provocative cinema. His films live in the underworld of depravity, and he explores them well. But upon full exploration of his work, it became clear to me that Paul Schrader has taken a risk with nearly every film he’s made. Whether those risks were violent or tender, Schrader has always challenged himself, and his audience. Say what you will about Paul Schrader’s body of work, but the man challenges himself in ways few modern filmmakers do.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Armageddon: Criterion Commentary Breakdown

Believe it or not, Michael Bay’s Armageddon came out 20 years ago today. And to mark this milestone, I thought it’d be fun to dive into the film’s hilarious Criterion Collection commentary track.

Armageddon is not the type of film typically chosen to receive the Criterion treatment, which makes this commentary that much more fun. Commentaries are usually recorded with every participant in the same room, so that they can all riff off the movie together. But this track combines the opinions of Michael Bay, Jerry Bruckheimer, Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck, who all recorded their tracks separately.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Top 15 Spiritual Sequels

Everyone seems to have a different method of defining what a spiritual sequel is, but to me, a spiritual sequel is a film that somehow clearly lives in the shadow of a movie that came before. Maybe they share a director or members of the cast, maybe the plots are similar or characters are the same. Sometimes, a spiritual sequel is simply getting two stars back together and hoping to repeat the lightning in a bottle effect of the first film. Much like conventional sequels, the spiritual sequel is rarely superior to its predecessor, but this list accounts for some damn worthy follow-ups.