360 (Meirelles, 2011)

Since his audacious gangster film debut City of God made him an instant art house sensation in 2002, director Fernando Meirelles has tackled one heavy subject after another in what has felt like a desperate attempt to be taken seriously as an artist. In turn, Meirelles’s films have been defined by a troubling self-seriousness that has only gotten worse with time, including to some extent his mostly riveting drama The Constant Gardener. This strain of pretentiousness finally reaches critical mass in the director’s latest multi-character drama 360, a meandering “serious” mosaic that tries to make sense of the world’s many social ills by flooding the frame with pedantic assertions and overt symbolism about human nature.

– Full Review for Critic Speak

Red Hook Summer (Lee, 2012)

After the bloated and disjointed WWII epic Miracle of St. Anna, Spike Lee returns home to the present-day New York City borough of his youth with Red Hook Summer, the director’s fifth entry in his ongoing chronicles of “the Republic of Brooklyn.” A coming-of-age story at heart, the film follows a middle-class Georgia boy named Flick (Jules Brown) who’s forced to spend his summer vacation in the sweltering-hot Red Hook housing projects with his devout Methodist grandfather, Da Good Bishop Enoch Rouse (Clarke Peters). It’s a seemingly straightforward fish-out-of-water scenario, one wrought with miscommunication, generational conflicts, and class division. But Lee complicates this familiar formula by playing against our expectations in regard to character motivation and tone, revealing dark truths beneath the routines of everyday life.

Full Review for Slant Magazine


In honor of the once-a-decade Sight and Sound Poll that was recently unveiled, a list that invariably sets the rules for canonizing the “best” of film history, I participated in The House Next Door‘s very own survey of the greatest films of all time. I’m extremely proud of these films, all choices that resonate deeply with me still, and this piece as a whole. A special thanks to my patient editor Ed Gonzalez for working through it with me. Click here and find out the titles that made my shortlist.

Last Embrace (Demme, 1979)

“All I need is a little work,” says traumatized secret agent Harry Hannan (Roy Scheider) to his worried psychologist in the opening moments of Jonathan Demme’s Last Embrace. Coming on the heals of his wife’s brutal murder and his own three-month stay in a sanitarium, it’s a cocky and dismissive sentiment that echoes L.B. Jefferies presumptive attitude at the beginning of Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window. Both men see their professions—the former a spy for some shady government outfit, the latter an extreme photographer—as an escape hatch from the emotional repression building up inside.

Full Review for The L Magazine