My weekly movie reviews. You can also read these on letterboxd.

Trancers 1.5: City of Lost Angels (1988)

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

This short film is a delight, especially if you enjoyed the first Trancers film. I’m working my way chronologically through the series, resisting the urge to binge them all as I restrict myself to one per week. Band is able to pack a lot into the 20-something runtime and still make it feel seamless. As another reviewer here said, I just want to live in the world of these characters indefinitely. I could watch Thomerson as Jack Deth any day.

Watched on Tubi.

Directed by William Wyler (1986)

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

This is a great, straight-forward documentary about one of the masters of cinema. It’s amazing that the interview with Wyler was only recorded a few days before his death. He seems so vital still and articulates the thoughts about his craft with ease. I teared up a few times during this viewing, moved by scenes from Wyler’s work. Could he be the great humanist director of the classic Hollywood era? I know for certain he is one I feel have to keep coming back to over and over again.

Watched on

The Hyperions (2022)

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

Acquired but not made by The Daily Wire and their producing partner Dallas Sonnier, The Hyperions provides a nice variety to the growing (exponentially I can only hope) collection of films on the streaming service.

The highlight of the movie is no doubt Cary Elwes. Perhaps he was a leading man once but he is really more of a character actor, demonstrated here from his voice, to his body language, and the curl of his lip. The latter acting choice is so consistent and well-done that I found it hard to believe it wasn’t part of Cary’s natural mannerisms, though it is not evident in any of his other work.

Overall, the narrative is a fresh spin on the superhero genre, touching a little on things we’ve seen before without feeling repetitive. Some are comparing director McDonald’s style to Wes Anderson’s. I can see the similarity only in Anderson’s early work when his characters remained real human beings in a quirky world, a quality that has been lost since Rushmore. Thankfully, McDonald does not lose the grasp of reality in his fantasy world and keeps his characters grounded.

The movie misses a few story beats that could have made its ending more poignant but overall, this is an enjoyable film that I recommend for everyone.

Watched on The Daily Wire.

The Quiet American (1958)

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Determined to eventually watch every Graham Greene movie adaptation, this film (expiring soon on Criterion Channel) was at the top of my list. It has been too long since I saw the more recent adaptation directed by Noyce so I can make no comparison but I suspect that this version remains the more effective of the two.

My friend Gus praised Audie Murphy’s work and I agree but it’s really the balance between him and Michael Redgrave that makes the picture work so well. It’s a case of perfect casting that we have these two pitted against each other, vying for the affections of the also well-cast Giorgia Moll. Murphy’s idealism mixed with the world-weariness in his eyes is a nice contrast for Redgrave’s understated, cynical expatriate.

Like Greene did so well in his books, this Hollywood film surprisingly captured the third world with authenticity and never feels fabricated.

Watched on Criterion Channel.

Clearcut (1991)

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

Anyone who has Shudder should not miss this film and anyone who doesn’t should consider signing up for at least a month just for this title alone.

This is one under-seen gem and perhaps one of the best films I’ve ever seen about Native Americans. It’s an intense, sometimes disturbing, film with nice touches of “folk horror” and Western elements. The skinning scene alone is one I will never forget. With stunning cinematography, a tight script, and well-balanced characters, this is a near perfect movie. It’s also a thriller that always feels grounded in reality, even when it touches on fantasy.

It is no surprise that Graham Greene considers this his favorite work. It’s incredible.

Watched on Shudder.