Category archives for Films & Video Games

V’s Ten for Ten: #10 – “Escape from Alcatraz” (1979)

“We don’t make good citizens, but we make good prisoners.” – The Warden Welcome to the end of the Ten for Ten.  The end of the experimental decade in cinema, the end of Clint Eastwood’s serial acting collaboration with any director (from this moment onwards, he has acted in fewer than ten films that were […]

V’s Ten for Ten: #9 – “Mutiny on the Bounty” (1935)

“But perhaps, as your father used to say: ‘A taut hand at sea is better than a slack one.’“ What does it mean to create a civilization?  Is it possible that something as lawless as a mutiny can bring about one of the greatest advances in law, order, and institutional structure in history? Mutiny on […]

V’s Ten for Ten: #8 – “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” (2011)

“If the Secretary wanted me out of there, it must be pretty bad out here.” – Ethan Hunt As a rule, the longer a franchise runs, the more stale it gets, and the easier it is to spot the moment where it peaked. Even with exceptions, the rule remains.  Harry Potter peaked with the third […]

V’s Ten for Ten: #7 – “Broken Blossoms” (1919)

Let’s talk about racism. I’ve held for years that the most racist regular moviegoing audience isn’t actually anyone in the good ol’ You-Ess of A. It’s China.  The joke of it is that just about everyone knows that as well as I do, but that Americans, and elites in particular, don’t know what to do […]

V’s Ten for Ten: #6 – “6 Underground” (2019)

“I don’t think we should be governing ourselves. What we need is a king, and every now and then if the king’s not doing a good job, we kill him.” – George Carlin Here comes an unsurprising statement that my future obituarist will put as the subheading right after “widely beloved murderer of pineapple pizza […]

V’s Ten for Ten: #5 – “Malcolm X” (1992)

I’m probably supposed to hate this film. Readers familiar with me know that while I understand the genuine fears individuals have when they encounter the police uniform, I despise and would celebrate the demise of that certain organization whose trite three-word slogan is also its proper noun title.  And the very first thing Malcolm X […]

V’s Ten for Ten: #4 – “Rope” (1948)

How ’bout them oners? One of the things my subconscious does during a film, even a film I hate, is to mimic some of the immediate experiences of the people at the center of it.  When James Bond goes underwater, I hold my breath with him.  When Dave Bowman from 2001: A Space Odyssey went […]

V’s Ten for Ten: #3 – “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon” (1949)

“Never apologize, Mister!  It’s a sign of weakness.” – Captain Nathan Brittles If I had to sum up the basic differences between films before vs. films after 1972, it’s that films before practiced the art of subtle non-subtlety, while films after it tend to practice non-subtle subtlety. The difference looks a bit like this: acting […]

V’s Ten for Ten: #2 – “Battle Royale” (2000)

Most controversial movies get that way because of the things they do.  Yet so much about this movie works because of the things it doesn’t do. It seems ironic that apart from the United States, the country that arguably produced the greatest filmmakers in the twentieth century was its greatest enemy in World War II.  […]

V’s Ten for Ten: #1 – “48 Hrs.” (1982)

Welcome to Ten for Ten – the segment I promised late last year where yours truly would write ten essays on ten films, and the only thing they have in common is that I love the films but have never written about them before. Additional rules are as follows: no more than two films from […]

The Twenty-One Best Films of the 21st Century

I probably should have written this list at the very beginning of the year.  2021 wasn’t a great year in cinema, nor was the year before it.  In fact, the last couple of decades have not been particularly great for cinema as an art medium nor a positive force for shaping popular culture. But since […]

“Nightmare Alley” (2021): Get Him to the Geek (Review)

★★★½ This movie references both of the two things that scare Austin Powers: (1) nuclear war, and (2) carnies. Every Guillermo del Toro movie has at least two monsters.  There’s the movie monster, and there’s the “real” monster.  The movie monster is usually a victim or a misunderstood friend, or, perhaps, if it’s still something […]

“The Matrix Resurrections” (2021): The Metatrix

★★ The end credits replay the Rage Against the Machine song that had famously closed The Matrix. While Rage was always only ever good for its guitar, the new version is a kidz-bop style shallow cover. Ironic that a song called “Wake Up” can put you to sleep; but credit where due – this is […]

“The Lord of the Rings” (2001-03): V’s Favorite Movie

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This article was originally published on the Cinematic Katzenjammer in December, 2018. “You’re a critic?  What’s your favorite movie?” I’m asked this a lot, and I often suspect that people are looking for an obscurer answer than the one in my pocket.  But it also feels like asking “what’s my favorite dream.” Although […]

“West Side Story” (2021): Who Wants to Live in America (Review)

★★ Steven Spielberg (without Tony Kushner) already made a musical.  It was called Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.  In that film, anything went.  In West Side Story (2021), nothing did. When the two leads aren’t there, the picture is occasionally tolerable.  Like the original, the two leads are the least interesting pieces of […]

COMING SOON: V’s 10 for 10

Dear Readers, I don’t talk enough about good movies. If you’ve been reading my hobby over the years, you know I have a penchant for negativity and occasional contrarianism. But apart from writing a Star Wars Prequels appreciation entry every few years, or an anniversary piece whenever possible, V for Verbatim can’t help but feel […]

“Love Hard” (2021): Die Actually (Review)

★★½ Love Hard is an enjoyable, sweet, uplifting Christmas picture stemming from a silly premise and full of needless references to silly cultural questions outside it.  It’s awful… yet I’m embarrassed to admit that I liked it. I don’t like reviewing movies like this.  Not because I hate watching them, but rather because both romance […]

“D U N C: Part One” (2021): Where There’s a Worm, There’s a Way (Review)

★★★ The moment DUNC was finished, I really wanted Part Two.  That was the problem. It is a testament to the skill of Denis Villeneuve, the production crews, Hans Zimmer, and the sound producers to make such worlds, planets, environments, and surfaces come alive in a grandiose fashion that mirrors (albeit more by suggestion than […]

“No Time To Die” (2021): James Bond’s Coronavirus Endgame (Review)

★★ The nationwide and global lockdown was one of the worst things that happened in this century.  One of its victims was No Time To Die. To be sure, No Time To Die is a bad film, and would have been bad no matter when it was released, but as I argued just recently in […]

Eon Bond… James Bond: V’s Ranking of All 24

A new James Bond film is coming out.  It will be the twenty-fifth film in the franchise, now nearing sixty years of age, and the last picture to star the sixth actor to have played 007.  We may have reached a point where such a prospect no longer excites us.  But just in case we […]

“The Star Wars Prequels”: Ambiguity and Downfall

“Once more the Sith shall rule the galaxy! And… we shall have peace.“ I will never forget what my brother said when I showed him the Star Wars Prequels. “PEACE?!” he asked, incredulous. “I thought that’s only what good guys want!” It would be years later when I’d realize just how perfectly that remark struck […]

“A Few Good Men” (1992): No One Handled the Truth

In A Few Good Men, adversarial parties to a court martial prove themselves capable of confronting part of the truth, but never all of it. My childhood owes a lot to this film. No, I’m not one of those kids who watched it in the ’90s and then decided from that moment onward that my […]

“Tenet” (2020): Nolan’s Palindrome (Review)

★★★ Entropic inversion and square symmetry. I promised to keep this review short, since Tenet did all the talking and far too much of it. So you may not need more from me than just a concept-illustrating phrase. While the Sator Square is referenced throughout, do not confuse it as the theme of the film. […]

“Dragged Across Concrete” (2019): Within the Inhumane

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This article was originally published on the Cinematic Katzenjammer in March, 2019. ★★★★ You know what movies could benefit from more of these days? Violence. Not the kind where human beings are made of water balloons and discharge blood like fire hoses – the kind that’s disturbing, unnerving, difficult to witness and decidedly […]