Pinhole Movie Reviews

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
December 20, 2019, 5:20 pm
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Derivative. Pandering. Drivel. Unwatchable.

Rififi (1955)
December 17, 2019, 10:59 pm
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Have you seen a heist movie? Have you seen several heist movies? Would you go so far as to say you like heist movies. Maybe even like like them? Well all your heist movies have seen this one and they all agree this one’s still great. Of the many things this movie does right is establish its characters. You know who they are, what their strengths and weaknesses are before the plot takes over completely, so your watching them react to the things that happen to them rather than just having the plot dictate their actions because it’s convenient. And that’s suspenseful! The actual heist proves that it’s sometimes fun to just watch a plan play even if we know what’s going to happen. Required viewing.

In Fabric (2019)
December 17, 2019, 4:19 am
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This thriller/horror/avant-garde phantasmagoria follows Marianne Jean-Baptiste and Leo Bill as they are unwittingly ensnared in the satanic fabric of a cursed dress. A cadre (cackle?) of witches run a London boutique that sells presumably normal women’s ware except for one dress that leaves mysterious rashes on its wearer. There are many things I love about this movie, not the least of which is the witches’s dialogue, “did the transaction validate your paradigm of consumerism?” which is suitably off kilter for the bizarro delivery of Fatma Mohamed who was also in director Peter Strickland’s excellent Berberian Sound Studio. There is the supporting cast of mostly memorable characters, the bank branch heads, the music by Stereolab alumnus Cavern of Anti-Matter, and the giallo-esque plot, which is both confounding in its opaqueness and engrossing in its complete originality. If you’ve read this far and are still intrigued I’d say worth watching.

Strangers By The Lake (2013)
December 16, 2019, 8:37 am
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After no posts for several years, I’m back… and THIS is the film I return with?!?! That’s right. This is the one. This film stars an idyllic lake with many friends who visit it everyday during summer in France. Mostly these friends just sunbathe on the lake’s shores, but sometimes these friends go swimming in the lake, sometimes these friends have sex with each other near the lake, sometimes these friends fall in love near the lake, and sometimes these friends even murder each other near the lake. Part AIDS allegory, part examination of the nature of attraction, part thriller, all French. Oh, yeah, and there’s a lot of unstimulated and very graphic gay sex. Watchable.


Shin Godzilla (2016)
September 5, 2016, 9:34 am
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A swath of popular TV actors join forces to fend off Godzilla with Japan’s greatest weapon of all: bureaucracy! What would happen if Godzilla really did attack Japan? How would the government react? How would Twitter react? The first 30 to 45 minutes kicks it off with a realism that you don’t often see in big-budget flicks starring giant monsters. I kept thinking, this is the polar opposite of that steaming pile of goo ID4: Resurgence. But by the half-way point it was painfully clear that the two are actually guilty of the same kind of pandering. “The only way we’re gonna defeat Godzilla/the aliens is if we do it the Japanese/American way – with heart!/heart!” The acting is abysmal all around and Godzilla himself is kind of a mixed bag. At times he’s quite terrifying, but the more I looked at him the goofier he seemed to me. There are some pretty cool scenes, but they don’t make up for how boring and hackneyed the rest of the movie is. Barely watchable.


Quick side note: I found it really obnoxious that the filmmakers seemingly went out of their way to avoid showing the faces of any foreign actors whenever possible. It’s distracting and possibly racist.

Heaven Knows What (2014)
August 31, 2016, 4:19 am
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Arielle Holmes is addicted. If the heroin doesn’t kill her then her frighteningly unstable boyfriend Caleb Landry Jones definitely will. This movie is INTENSE! Holmes brings both the realism and dramatic skill necessary to sell a performance like this on screen. The cinematography alternates between tightly framed closeups and deceptively restrictive long shots, visually alluding to the constricted world these characters live in. Despite impressive performances, interesting visuals and a hard-hitting soundtrack, the lead characters just aren’t that interesting. Their relationship feels like a Shakespearian tragedy sabotaged by the tediousness of addiction, both chemical and emotional. Watchable.



While We’re Young (2015)

40-somethings Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts are thrust into an existential and marital crisis after meeting young hipsters Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried. Having such fully realized characters really helps this movie explore multiple themes and ideas simultaneously without ever feeling scatterbrained. There’s of course the theme that’s on the poster – the disconnect between physical age and how old you “feel” inside, but it’s also a movie about, among other things, creativity, procrastination, ambition, friendship, marriage, authenticity and loyalty. Absolutely worth watching and one of my favorite recent movies.


The Brood
September 9, 2014, 9:26 am
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Oliver Reed is a suspiciously evil-looking psychoanalyst whose treatment includes verbally abusing his patients until they explode with anger. When the family members of one of his patients start getting murdered one by one, it’s clear that something bad is happening as a result of the doctor’s treatments. This early David Cronenberg film is genuinely creepy and very, very gross, but you’ve got to expect that with Cronenberg. What I didn’t expect was to see someone bludgeoned to death in front of no less than 10 toddlers. Is this OK? I really don’t think so, I mean, if I were a toddler and my mom put me on a movie set where someone was realistically beaten not two feet away from me with lots of blood squirting all over the place, I would be A) pissed at my mom, and B) seriously traumatized for life. But if you can get past all that, this is top-shelf B-horror. Expertly directed, a great performance from Oliver Reed and a great buildup to an ending that is just the right combination of ludicrous and dark. Worth checking out, but only if you are in for a really violent and disturbing film.



Fading Gigolo

John Turturro and Woody Allen conspire to market Turturro as a gigolo to older women in New York City. This film wants to be an off-beat comedy with just enough raunchiness to make audiences feel like they saw a movie for adults, and just enough heart to make them feel OK about all the raunchy bits. It wants to be that kind of film, but it can’t, it’s just not possible, not when your lead is as creepy as Turturro manages to be. He plays it cool and calm, but instead of coming across as a quiet, kind-hearted soul, he’s got this very unappealing predatory vibe that totally made my stomach turn. The ending, too. It’s terrible, confusing and poorly executed. I also hated the soundtrack, which sounded like it came from a CD pulled of the the discount jazz rack. Watchable, but just barely, so I guess, barely watchable?


The Warriors
September 7, 2014, 7:46 am
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Warriors! It’s famous, it’s iconic, it’s violent and it’s actually kind of boring. A small Coney Island gang is framed for the murder of the most powerful gang leader in New York and they’ve got to high-tail it back to their home turf on the other side of the city, ASAP! For people that love this film, I can totally sympathize with you. It’s a successful combination of gritty realism with the skewed movie logic that makes Escape from New York so entertaining. Maybe I just waited too long to watch it–I feel like high-school is probably the best age–but I found the over all experience just kind of dull. I wanted more action, more of the film’s crazy alternate reality version of New York, more suspense, characters that I care about, the list goes on. Anyway, kind of a cool movie, but I wouldn’t go into it with super high expectations. Watchable.


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