The besties review
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First things first—Richard Roundtree is fucking magnetic. It’s a shame they couldn’t spin this off into some kind of pulpy TV detective show, because I think John Shaft would be an even greater character if he had season-long story arcs and more cases to solve. But even in its filmic form, there’s a lot to like here. The dialogue is snappy, the direction is crisp, and the music is just superb. Not really looking forward to watching the Shaft sequels (mostly because I’ve heard they aren’t very good), but I am looking forward to watching more Blaxploitation films in general.
Get Carter is a crisp, British crime caper that thrives on pulpy genre conventions and Michael Caine’s sinister performance. There are a lot of great, subtle details peppered throughout that I will need a second watch to fully appreciate, but from what I did catch, I can safely say that this movie is a competent and clever slow-burn thriller.
A terrifying and brutal survival story that pits its big stars (Burt Reynolds and Jon Voight) against a crew of violent Southern "inbreds." If not for the now-infamous rape scene, I’d say Deliverance is a pretty enjoyable film. One of the most impressive aspects of the film is that the actors did all their own stunts, many of which involved traversing in intense rapids and hazardous mountain terrains. But the rape scene itself was incredibly hard to stomach and could be the primary reason I never watch this again.
Ultimately I felt like Deliverance didn’t leave me with a whole lot to think about, but I was able to appreciate the craft that went into making it.
Rainy Windows Reflecting City Lights: The Movie
But seriously, this was great. De Niro is super villain level creepy and his uncomfortable interactions with the female characters made me question his character’s intentions. Is he a socially awkward romantic or a delusional predator? Or both?
The ending makes things even more complicated for me, as Bickle seems to receive no punishment for his behavior. I don’t think Scorsese intended for Bickle to be a “hero” in the audience’s eyes, but he is perceived as a hero in his own world. That’s what makes Taxi Driver so complicated— it is a subtle critique of toxic masculinity that has long been co-opted by toxic film bros as a sacred text. They quote it and they mimic it and they just love how “cool” it makes them feel. I didn’t feel cool when I watched this. I felt sad and scared and, in the end, a little skeevy.
P.S. De Niro’s acting is expectedly incredible, but for me it’s Jodie Foster who really steals the show. Undoubtedly one of the best performances from a teen actor that I have ever seen.
This is like if The Wire was a shitty 80s movie. And that’s basically all I have to say about that.
What is 5 Film Film Festival (5FFF)?
In short, 5 Film Film Festival is an ongoing personal project to help me watch more classic films. For each mini “festival,” I will choose a random theme (be it a genre, actor, director, etc.) and curate five movies that fit that theme to watch for the first time. When I started this journey, I posted my brief, unpolished thoughts on Letterboxd. I like this more informal, less pretentious mode of watching older movies, so as I begin documenting the project here on the site, don’t expect a lot of in-depth analysis— every “review” will read more like a “first reaction.”
If you’re like me, and you have more than a few blind spots in your cinematic knowledge, then consider joining me on this lifelong endeavor. Watch along, recommend themes, and organize some mini festivals of your own!