One of the most common questions I get on Twitter is along the lines of “I’d like to get more into movies, what are five or so to start me out?” I used to answer this with a handful of accessible canonical picks — Rear Window, The Apartment, The Night of the Hunter, etc. — but as time goes on I’ve started refraining from answering altogether. Not because I don’t want people to get into cinema (I know I style myself a “gatekeeper,” but I’m more than happy to help out any eager new people), but because it’s not a…


In 2006, Alfonso Cuarón took the prestige he had earned off of his breakout hit Y Tú Mama Tambien and his work on the Harry Potter franchise to make a risky, ambitious project: an adaptation of P. D. James’ sci-fi novel The Children of Men. While the film still stands out for a number of reasons — the prescient dystopian setting, Clive Owen’s exasperated performance, the desperate tone punctuated by black humor — it was one key element that ended up garnering significant attention and acclaim. Cuarón and DP Emmanuel Lubezki opted to shoot most of the film’s big setpieces…


Though it seems like ancient history now, in 2013, the world of games criticism was rocked by one of the absolute dumbest controversies in the history of the medium. Carolyn Petit, reviewer for GameSpot, had just released a review for the much-hyped (and typically overpraised) new release Grand Theft Auto V that caused the internet to erupt in a storm of fury. When the video review was uploaded, GameSpot’s YouTube channel was bombarded by negative comments and Petit herself received a torrent of harassment — and while Carolyn’s status as an out and visible trans woman (as well as her…


There’s a moment three-quarters of the way through Richard Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some!! that speaks to the film’s greatness better than any writing could. Glen McReynolds, the baseball team’s leader and best player, has just minutes ago put Jay Niles, the team’s overconfident transfer pitcher, in his place. Not only has McReynolds effortlessly knocked Niles’s “ninety mile-an-hour fastball” out of the park, but he’s also given him a thorough browbeating for his childish antics on the field. Niles initially throws another fit before storming off, but after retrieving the ball, he walks up to McReynolds and meekly tells him “good…


Wendy and Lucy (The Movie Database)

Some thoughts on all of the movies I watched this month. Just so there’s no confusion: 🔁 means I’ve previously seen the movie, and my rating scale is a little harsher than most people’s (if you’re curious about how it breaks down, check out this article here.)

Wendy and Lucy (Kelly Reichardt, 2008) — 82

Having trouble articulating just why this humble little movie about a broke woman searching small-town Oregon for her dog left me so shaken, but here we are. This is a breathtaking film in the most literal sense of the world, gnawingly tense and heartbreaking without…


Stop Making Sense (The Movie Database)

Some thoughts on all of the movies I watched this month. Just so there’s no confusion: 🔁 means I’ve previously seen the movie, and my rating scale is a little harsher than most people’s (if you’re curious about how it breaks down, check out this article here.)

Stop Making Sense (Jonathan Demme, 1984) — 82🔁

Second viewing, no change in score. Not much to add to my previous capsule, though since my last viewing I’ve gotten much more into the Talking Heads’ discography and can’t help but lament how some of their best songs (“Uh-Oh, Love Comes to Town,” “The…


Disobedience (The Movie Database)

Some thoughts on all of the movies I watched this month. Just so there’s no confusion: 🔁 means I’ve previously seen the movie, and my rating scale is a little harsher than most people’s (if you’re curious about how it breaks down, check out this article here.)

Disobedience (Sebastian Lelio, 2018) — 45 The trouble with writing these capsules is that if I fall behind, writing about certain movies — specifically, movies that vanish from my mind as soon as the lights go up in the theater — becomes something of a chore. As of writing this, it’s been about…


The Red Shoes (The Movie Database)

Some thoughts on all of the movies I watched this month. Just so there’s no confusion: 🔁 means I’ve previously seen the movie, and my rating scale is a little harsher than most people’s (if you’re curious about how it breaks down, check out this article here.)

The Red Shoes (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, 1948) — 61

Another universally beloved classic I merely like. Honestly, I could probably swap out a few proper nouns and Ctrl+V in my Vertigo review, as my reaction to the two is largely the same: brilliant form, uneven content. The “unevenness” is a bit…


Sorry to Bother You (Doug Emmett / Sundance Institute, as seen in Vox)

One of the great pleasures of theatergoing — second only to discovering a new favorite, in this critic’s view — is finding a film so singular, both in vision and execution, that it simply demands to be seen, no matter how legion the flaws may be. Trouble is, that second part tends to cut into the joy a bit — last year’s allegorical thriller mother! and kaiju-themed rom-com Colossal both met the criteria established above, which made their collapsing under their own lofty ambitions all the more heartbreaking. Rare is it that the stars align that such outré visions survive…


Some thoughts on all* of the movies I watched this month. Just so there’s no confusion: 🔁 means I’ve previously seen the movie, and my rating scale is a little harsher than most people’s (if you’re curious about how it breaks down, check out this article here.)

All That Jazz (Bob Fosse, 1979) — 95 🔁

Now this is how you shoot a musical number. It’s difficult to write about All That Jazz because it’s equally difficult to classify; it’s a musical (except not quite), it’s an autobiography (except not quite), it’s a critique of the theater world, and a…

Spencer Rider

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