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Letterboxd Loose Ends 2014

Film reviews I’ve written on Letterboxd that are fewer than 100 words are collected here.

Berberian Sound Studio

A wonderfully atmospheric, somewhat Lynchian portrait of emotional deterioration, with no small amount of affection for giallo films and the analog audio era. Excellent score by James Cargill and the late Trish Keenan of Broadcast.

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa

If you’ve seen Johnny Knoxville’s hilarious Irving Zisman schtick in the Jackass movies, you know what to expect from Bad Grandpa, and it delivers. But trying to use an actual story to string together its collection of pranks and gags disrupts the pace and dilutes the comedy. The absence of character development was never a problem for the Jackass series before, so I’m not sure why they decided to try it here. The closing credits are full of outtakes that would have been a welcome replacement for all the unnecessary exposition.

Tell No One

An inventive and well-constructed mystery thriller that consistently intrigues without ever veering too far into pulp. A few too many answers pile up at the end for the resolution to be completely satisfying, but overall, I really enjoyed the ride.

Beauty Is Embarassing

It’s hard not to be inspired by Wayne White’s restless creative spirit and whimsical, hand-crafted artworks across an array of media, and his cheerfully acerbic raconteur skills make the story of his journey as an artist that much more entertaining.


Carrie is one of the better Stephen King adaptations, thanks largely to Sissy Spacek’s fragile performance and its memorably masterful climax. Still, I always feel like the first hour is mostly just something to sit through while waiting for the big moment.


It’s hard to pin down the horror/sci-fi alchemy that makes Alien work so well, but probably more than anything else, its landmark production design is indispensable, drawing the viewer helplessly into its lived-in world, making the film’s claustrophobic dread palpable.

The Silence of the Lambs

No matter how many times I see The Silence of the Lambs, it is engrossing from start to finish. Anthony Hopkins’s Hannibal Lecter is unforgettable, but only as a foil for Jodie Foster’s much more sober Clarice Starling, without whom Lecter would be little more than a cartoon. Countless imitators tried and failed to replicate that magic, including Lambs’ two sequels. The leads anchor the film, and everything else falls into place around them.

Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky

As a fan of the sort of slapstick gore found in movies like Dead Alive and Re-Animator, I had long looked forward to seeing Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky. It delivers several gems of cartoon violence, and the over-the-top acting and inept dialogue are frequently funny, but the almost total lack of an actual story makes the scenes between the action too much of a slog.

The Woman in Black

There’s not a single original moment in this vengeful ghost story, but the care it puts into presenting its collection of haunted house tropes makes it surprisingly enjoyable. Soaked in atmosphere, The Woman in Black’s familiarity doesn’t prevent it from being frequently chilling.


A technically adroit series of carefully scripted temper tantrums meant to embody the struggle of making capital “A” Art, Birdman pays lip service to the nuance that accompanies authenticity, but it tends to make its points as loudly as possible. This is probably about as good as overwrought showbiz navel gazing gets, and it’s still pretty off-putting.

A Separation

Yowza, this thing stressed me the fuck out.