DUCK SOUP Review – ****

“What significance? We were just four Jews trying to get a laugh.” So said Groucho, and for all the praise lavished upon the political relevance of Duck Soup, he shouldn’t be disregarded. Above all else, Duck Soup is pure comedy, with very little to get in the way of those laughs—and there are a great…

My Film Guide: How I Got My Start

I was exposed to film criticism from a fairly early age, thanks to Videohound’s Movie Retriever and the wonderful Cinemania program, which included reviews from Leonard Maltin, Roger Ebert, and Pauline Kael. But when I first started writing film reviews, somewhere around 2002, my greatest influence was actually Leslie Halliwell and his Film Guide. To…

NERO WOLFE (1979) Review – ***½

My parents were both big Nero Wolfe fans, and I first became acquainted with Rex Stout’s character through the wonderful A&E series A Nero Wolfe Mystery, with Maury Chaykin’s masterful take on Wolfe matched by Timothy Hutton as his snarky right arm, Archie Goodwin. But I’d long been aware of this earlier attempt (hardly the…

MONGOL Review – **½

While digging through a mass of papers left from my freshman year of college, I discovered a couple of my earliest in-depth film reviews, written for an Introduction to Russian Culture class in the spring of 2009. First is my review of Sergei Bodrov’s biopic of Genghis Khan—first of a planned trilogy, though it’s not…

WILD STRAWBERRIES Review – ****

Perhaps fitting for a film so concerned with the subject of memory, I can’t be certain this was the first time I saw Wild Strawberries; I think I did see the better part of it at one time, but this was definitely the first time I saw it start to finish. And more fitting, I…

The Monthly Gravette #6

You might notice that this is the first of these posts in several months. And it’s not going to be as comprehensive as it should be, because if I delayed finishing it until I could make it comprehensive, I’d probably end up pushing it back another month. To hell with that. There was no good…

The Weekly Gravy #54

Lost in Translation (2003) – ***½ Lost in Translation is one of those films I was aware of when it was new, but never did see, maybe because I never especially wanted to. I’ve since seen Coppola’s The Bling Ring and The Beguiled, and they’re both solid mid-level ***½ films, the kind of films I…

SUICIDE SQUAD Review – **

All right, let’s talk Suicide Squad. Five years ago, after seeing Suicide Squad, I wrote an 800-word jeremiad about its shortcomings which I posted on social media. Now, having seen the 2021 sequel/reboot, I figured I’d go back and annotate my review of the dreadful first film in light of the splendid second one. This,…

YOJIMBO Review – ****

It’s hard to say which of Kurosawa’s films has been the most influential, or been the most imitated; certainly Yojimbo has to be a strong contender, since Sergio Leone drew heavily upon it for A Fistful of Dollars (without permission) and Walter Hill outright remade it (with permission) as Last Man Standing. Ironically, Kurosawa drew…

DELUGE Review – ***

That Deluge can be seen at all is rather miraculous. While its famous sequence of New York being destroyed, first by earthquake and then by flood, was used as stock footage in several later films, the rest of the film was long thought lost, until a dubbed Italian release print was discovered in 1981 and…