*Chungking Express (1994) - 9/10 [up from 8]. "It's not every day / We're gonna be the same way / There must be a change, somehow." No longer bothered by Faye Wong's stalkerish ways, as I finally recognize the whole film is shot through with an almost childish innocence that makes such objections irrelevant; even when people kill other people here, it's just a heightened gesture rather than an action with real weight (it's not cynical or juvenile, just... guileless, somehow), the weight being reserved for the romanticism. The only Wong I really love, shape-shifting and exhilarating rather than moodily protracted or wallowing in repetitive style.
Ashes of Time (1994) [Redux] - 7/10
Fallen Angels (1995) - 6/10
Blazing Saddles (1974) - 7/10. Full climactic descent into meta-ness doesn't quite work for me, since most if not all of the humor before that, for all its absurdity, is rooted in something real and uncomfortable, so the ending just comes across as a stunt in comparison (Monty Python were incorporating that stuff into their comedy a lot better around the same time). Pretty terrific until then. Didn't expect to recognize *that* many quotes I'd known for years.
*In the Mood for Love (2000) - 7/10. It's like it gets off on being withholding.
Borat: Cultural Learnings of America etc etc (2006) - 6/10. Two or three great scenes (the wrestling, obviously, plus the rodeo and the frat bros), but mostly just a spectacle of Borat saying or doing something absurdly, beyond-the-pale outrageous and other people in the scene being baffled and/or heroically patient in response (I guess the fans might argue their *not* being outraged is commentary in itself, but I'd probably be quietly struggling to get my bearings too in an interaction like that, especially if I were being filmed); I'm more with Hitchens here than with those who see something revelatory in this. May have actually liked the sequel a little better, because Borat's absurdity seems a better fit for the absurdity of 2020 and adding Bakalova was inspired.
Bacurau (2019) - 6/10. Too long a build-up for the payoff we get (wish it would have at least used the time to flesh out the villagers more; the opening creates false expectations), but still some very satisfying anti-colonial ownage.
Bad Education (2019) - 6/10. Might be underrating, since the structure is canny and Jackman is excellent, but there's still a sort of synthetic slickness to it (montages, people telling each other things they already know for our benefit, all that stuff) and Finley's direction doesn't have the personality he showed in Thoroughbreds. Ironically feels like a movie made for TV even though it originally wasn't.
Birds of Prey (2020) - 5/10. Have yet to become tired of Robbie's Harley; pretty tired of the everything-and-the-kitchen-sink approach applied to all that surrounds her.
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm etc etc (2020) - 6/10
*Some Like It Hot (1959) - 9/10
Juliet of the Spirits (1965) - 5/10. Fellini is my least favorite of the canonized mid-20th century auteurs, and although I don't find this as crude and shallow as e.g. Amarcord, it still eventually becomes pretty rough going in its structureless lost-in-itself grotesquerie. Almost rescued by Giulietta Masina, who had one of the greatest faces in cinema, even if for much of this she does look like (to quote Ebert) "nothing more than an unwilling housewife dragged by her husband to a strip show he is sure they will both enjoy."
Time (2020) - 6/10. Not so much a movie about time and its devastating passage, or even about America's fucked-up justice system, as about one woman's strength and resilience (complete with multiple scenes of her proselytizing to a rapt audience), which is deeply admirable and not all that complex or interesting, at least as presented.
*The Great Beauty (2013) - 6/10. Loved this back when it came out, but a lot of it seemed maudlin and patronizing this time (it repeatedly pulls a trick where it introduces a character as someone to be laughed at/looked down on, then unexpectedly does something to make you feel for them; I understand why some consider that a sign of depth, but the manipulation rubs me the wrong way.) Still some transporting passages, and Tony Servillo's a fine host.
*Hellzapoppin' (1941) - 8/10
*Europa (1991) - 8/10
*Blue Collar (1978) - 9/10. The most incisive film about capitalism and the ways it works to reinforce inequality that I know of. RIP Yaphet Kotto.
*The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice (1952) - 6/10
*5 Fingers (1952) - 9/10. WWII espionage as an expertly controlled series of negotiations, manipulations, double-crosses and role reversals, the movie playing its characters just like they play one another. On-location detail side-by-side with awesomely witty dialogue, and James Mason taking his urbane charisma someplace dark and dangerous; both a very tense thriller and a very dark, very dry comedy.
*The Marrying Kind (1952) - 8/10
*Rushmore (1998) - 9/10. Absolutely peak Anderson, funnier and more perceptive and affecting every time I see it. Olivia Williams' remains my favorite character and performance in a Wes Anderson movie, precisely because she may be the only character from a Wes Anderson movie who doesn't feel like she spent her entire life in one.
July Rain (1967) - 7/10. Snapshot of young '60s Soviet intelligentsia in between the Khrutschev Thaw and the invasion of Czechoslovakia & the Brezhnev stagnation, as stylish, insightful and occasionally maddening as its characters. This and the same director's three-hour I Am Twenty (1965) are recommended to anyone interested in everyday Soviet life and culture as captured in contemporary dramas.