Category Archives: Nir Shalev

DVD of the Week – Review of The Thing (1982)


In 1951, Howard Hawks (Scarface, 1932; Rio Bravo, 1959) directed a horror classic called The Thing from Another World. It featured a slew of American Air Force officials and scientists at an arctic station who encounter a hostile alien creature. The film kept the monster’s appearance hidden until the end, ratcheting the suspense up to 11. The reason for the film’s enduring popularity is that, just like in Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), there’s a the huge metaphor embedded in the story’s center: communists hiding in plain sight inside the US. They looked just like everyone else and spoke just like everyone else and were virtually impossible to detect. A nationwide scare was in progress and the fluoride scare was soon to follow. America in the mid-20th century was a particularly interesting country. Continue reading

DVD of the Week – Terri (2011)


Terri (Jacob Wysocki) is an overweight high-schooler who wears pajamas to school because they’re comfortable. He lives in a small house with his uncle James (Creed Bratton), who suffers from dementia or possibly Alzheimer’s, and both of their lives are rather quiet and melancholy. Terri slowly descends into boredom, which can be seen in the slower pace in which he walks and the way in which everything seems like a chore to him. Continue reading

Movie Review – Drive (2011)



It’s a set up straight out of the classic film noir playbook. Continue reading

DVD of the Week – Review of You Kill Me (2007)


Frank Falenczyk (Sir Ben Kingsley) is a hitman for the Polish mob, if ever there was such a thing. Problem is he has a terrible alcohol problem. One night while on duty but drunk, he falls asleep in his car while his boss’s competition boards a train that he “wasn’t supposed to.” Frank is picked up in the morning by his peers and his boss Roman (veteran character actor Philip Baker Hall) sends him to San Francisco to sober up. That’s where the film picks up its humor and never lets up. Continue reading

DVD of the Week – Review of The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)


The Magnificent Ambersons is Orson Welles’ second masterpiece, following his surprising commercial flop Citizen Kane (1941). This film is far less flamboyant, contains a more stark visual style, and borrows strongly from Eisensteinian dramatic compositions and editing techniques, which is a very good thing. Continue reading

DVD of the Week – Review of Everything Must Go (2011)


Based on Raymond Carver’s short story “Why Won’t You Dance”, Everything Must Go tells the story of Nick Halsey (Will Ferrell), an alcoholic who recently relapsed. As a result, he loses his long term job and also his marriage; his wife locks him out of his own house, his joint bank account is frozen, his car is seized, etc. This is only the first ten minutes of the film and it may seem grim, but this is an indie film that’s full of wonderful moments that left me smiling. Nevertheless, there are some dark moments too and they’re the best parts of the film. Continue reading

Two Lists, Ten Favorites: Films of Alfred Hitchcock


An occasional feature where Helen and Nir compare their five favorite films by some of the greats of world cinema.

Alfred Hitchcock (1899-1980)

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DVD of the Week – Review of Jane Eyre (2011)


Jane Eyre is the classic, Gothic tale of an orphan that was born in misfortune. Jane (Mia Wasikowska) grew up with a family that detested her and was eventually sent to a boarding school where she finally made a friend. But the school was hell, the children were beaten, and her best friend died of illness. This was before Jane was even a teenager. Continue reading

DVD of the Week – Review of I Saw the Devil (2010)


Choi Min-sik (of Oldboy fame) plays a psychopathic killer and his latest, random victim is the fiancée of a special agent played by Lee Byung-hun (The Good, the Bad, the Weird). After her body is found, the agent’s superior offers him a month off work to recover from his grief but he claims to only need two weeks. He immediately sets off to find the killer using info provided by his fiancée’s father and ex-chief of police. Within a matter of days, the agent finds the killer in a greenhouse and a terrific fight ensues. The killer is beaten to unconsciousness, his right hand is crushed on a rock and he awakens to the sight of an envelope that’s full of money. Why, you ask? Because while the killer was unconscious, the agent slipped a GPS pill into his mouth and made him swallow it. That way, wherever he goes the agent could find him. And then beat him up and torture him further. And he does. Continue reading

Movie Review – I Confess (1953)


Alfred Hitchcock was an early master of horror but is currently most famously known as the master of suspense. He released one thriller after another, some more thrilling than others (North by Northwest (1959), The Birds (1963)), but his visual and thematic signatures were noticeable even from the start of his film career that dates back to the silent era. I Confess looks like a Hitchcock thriller, steeped in gorgeous black and white cinematography; however, unlike his usual psychological thrillers, it plays much more like a psychological drama. Continue reading