Nick's Flick Picks

Rating Title | Year Quote Author
1 74%

The Upside of Anger (2005)

"Upside is better-than-average as a mid-budget suburban film dramedy but positively gangbusters if you imagine it as a two-hour television pilot."

Posted Aug 6, 2014

Nick Davis

2 ——

Within Our Gates (1920)

"Within Our Gates is full of surprises, following a multitude of characters and plotlines without settling into predictable allegiances."

Posted Feb 4, 2013

Nick Davis

3 95%

The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)

"The movie is not a wild river but a humid delta of stagnant frustration and stymied movement, so it's all the more impressive that it's such a gripping spectatorial experience."

Posted Feb 8, 2012

Nick Davis

4 94%

The Importance of Being Earnest (2002)

"For an audience that takes pleasure in the all-too-rare art of faithful adaptations that vivify rather than embalming their sources [...] Asquith's conservative handling is just what the confirmed and secret Bunburyist ordered."

Posted Feb 8, 2012

Nick Davis

5 92%

The Laramie Project (2002)

"The Laramie Project is not really about Matthew Shepard but about this question of identification with Matthew, and of identification with the larger community of Laramie that admitted, sustained, eliminated, grieved, and civilly avenged Matthew."

Posted Feb 5, 2012

Nick Davis

6 ——

The Actress (1953)

"Sadly, if she was guilty of trying too hard or of trying in the wrong way, Cukor appears totally and uncharacteristically checked out... The Actress exposes the kinds of fraying seams that Cukor was usually so careful to conceal even in tattier projects."

Posted Feb 1, 2012

Nick Davis

7 71%

Rumble Fish (1983)

"Rumble Fish is like a unisex Sweet 16 gift for children whose favorite hangouts are the pool hall, the Cinématheque Française, and the rings of Saturn."

Posted Jan 22, 2012

Nick Davis

8 ——

Tim (1979)

"Tim comes close to reproducing the plot of Doubt, in negative-space fashion. That is, for this go-round, we spend all our time with the uncomprehending kid (if he is uncomprehending?) and his teacher-nurturer-desirer."

Posted Jan 21, 2012

Nick Davis

9 67%

The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)

"The surprise and also the disappointment of The Long Kiss Goodnight is much simpler, and less politically inflected: it's badly made, or too close to badly made."

Posted Jan 21, 2012

Nick Davis

10 83%

The Fountainhead (1949)

"The Fountainhead is by turns exciting, handsome, astoundingly awkward, fully committed, untowardly relentless, very strange, and a little creepy in its compulsive watchability."

Posted Jan 20, 2012

Nick Davis

11 100%

Gaslight (1940)

"So much goes right in this film version, all without sparking a corresponding bump in my enthusiasm, that it's all the more obvious that I find some foundations of this text perennially problematic."

Posted Jan 16, 2012

Nick Davis

12 78%

Barfly (1987)

"As I write about Barfly, I do seem to be talking myself into greater admiration for it, or at least into a sense of welcome design beneath its superficial inertia."

Posted Jan 13, 2012

Nick Davis

13 76%

The Life and Death of Peter Sellers (2004)

""There was no real Peter Sellers"... As a theme, it smells of the tired cop-out, somewhere in the same clubhouse of desiccated phrases as "I love you, but I'm not in love with you" and "In a crazy world, only the mad people are sane.""

Posted Jan 13, 2012

Nick Davis

14 ——

The Emperor's Candlesticks (1937)

"In Rainer's case, The Emperor's Candlesticks seems unusually revealing, doffing the dropcloth from exactly the sort of peculiar, temporarily arresting artifact she was, guaranteed to inspire buyer's remorse."

Posted Jan 12, 2012

Nick Davis

15 74%

Twelfth Night: Or What You Will (1998)

"I started watching the film by thinking, "They should film more of the comedies," and probably They still should, but I ended by thinking, "They really ought to hire movie directors to make movies.""

Posted Jan 8, 2012

Nick Davis

16 75%

Heroes for Sale (1933)

"A Pre-Code Battle in Seattle... Heroes for Sale is not a perfect film, and not particularly interested in perfection, but really and truly, pretend this isn't a cliché: they don't make 'em like this anymore."

Posted Jan 5, 2012

Nick Davis

17 67%

The Little Drummer Girl (1984)

"Stark criticisms are unavoidable, even as I'm forced to admit that the film is one of those wrongly-assembled movies that is built on such an unusual Hollywood premise...that it eventually becomes halfway fascinating."

Posted Jan 5, 2012

Nick Davis

18 ——

The Glass Menagerie (1950)

"The Glass Menagerie has a lot going for it, even if director Irving Rapper (Now, Voyager) misses several opportunities to take the characters deeper."

Posted Jan 5, 2012

Nick Davis

19 69%

sleep furiously. (2011)

"A certain polite withholding, even if it masks some firm conviction or desire, seems to be a coin of the realm in Trefeurig, so it may well be apt that Koppel often films in a register very close to this one."

Posted Jul 28, 2011

Nick Davis

20 100%

Cactus (1987)

"A qualified accomplishment ... Part and parcel of its limitations, though, is Cactus's genuine will to stand apart, offering rich textures and unexpected pleasures."

Posted Jul 17, 2011

Nick Davis

21 ——

Esther (1985)

"Merging straight Biblical storytelling with modern gimmicks, Amos Gitai half-succeeds at both... Even when he stutters or flaunts his affectations, you cannot write him off as having nothing to say."

Posted Jul 16, 2011

Nick Davis

22 ——

Ópera do Malandro (Malandro) (1986)

"Ópera do Malandro is way more Love's Labour's Lost than Moulin Rouge!, both in formal execution and in its awkward orientation to World War II. The film means to be ersatz but perhaps not this much."

Posted Jul 14, 2011

Nick Davis

23 29%

Max My Love (Max Mon Amour) (1996)

"If you've wondered what kind of continental TV pilot Sherwood Schwartz might have devised from watching Zoo, here's your answer."

Posted Jul 12, 2011

Nick Davis

24 93%

She's Gotta Have It (1986)

"Light, scrappy entertainment that flatters everything funky and fresh about Lee, tempting you to forgive what is stunted or abrasive in the film. A major swaying element is his own on-screen persona."

Posted Jul 11, 2011

Nick Davis

25 85%

The Decline of the American Empire (Le Déclin de l'Empire Américain) (1986)

"What Arcand has devised is a kind of Nia Vardalos movie in tenured-faculty clothing: Our Big Fat Bourgeois Salon ... It trades only the crudest ironies and screenwriting mechanics."

Posted Jul 10, 2011

Nick Davis

26 83%

Offret (The Sacrifice) (1986)

"Visually potent ... humblingly vast ... [and yet] the movie oscillates between compelling our thunderstruck confidence and testing our patience with unfulfilled promise and highbrow clichés."

Posted Jul 8, 2011

Nick Davis

27 80%

Tenue de Soirée (Evening Dress) (Ménage) (1986)

"Quite funny for the first half and deeply weird for the second, with a laudable courage of its own bizarre conviction throughout, even as it reveals a nasty undertone."

Posted Jul 8, 2011

Nick Davis

28 90%

After Hours (1985)

"[Scorsese's] tendency toward hollow showboating has rarely been more in evidence ... Ends as a tolerable but annoyingly atonal exercise made by artists with little if anything on their minds."

Posted Jul 7, 2011

Nick Davis

29 96%

Mona Lisa (1986)

"The bracing peaks of image, acting, and narrative architecture handily win the day over a scenario that always feels more like a willfully engineered exercise than a fully plausible reality."

Posted Jul 6, 2011

Nick Davis

30 ——

Eu Sei Que Vou Te Amar (Love Me Forever or Never) ()

"Love Me Forever or Never may be more committed to its bright, calico surface and its abrupt transitions in focus and tone than it is to the relations between the two people on screen."

Posted Jul 1, 2011

Nick Davis

31 75%

Fool for Love (1985)

"The basic friction between Altman's lightness and Shepard's portentousness serves the movie in rich and ever-expanding ways, and not just because you can't ever predict how the narrative will swerve."

Posted Jul 1, 2011

Nick Davis

32 72%

Hanna (2011)

"The movie feels alive in a thrilling way, sometimes even a funny way, even when its thrills are cheap, confused, or diaphanous."

Posted Apr 30, 2011

Nick Davis

33 ——

Scream of the Ants ()

"This side of Makhmalbaf is exhilarating at its best but still feels essential at its petulant and shapeless worst."

Posted Apr 4, 2011

Nick Davis

34 93%

Lourdes (2010)

"The withholding of judgment persists across Lourdes, which is comic, haunting, sweet, pious, unsettling, agnostic, and wholly deadpan at various moments."

Posted Mar 4, 2011

Nick Davis

35 87%

Black Swan (2010)

"Why tell this story in such elaborate terms? And why coax Nina just barely out from beneath her mother's thumb, only to pinion her just as harshly underneath Aronofsky's?"

Posted Oct 13, 2010

Nick Davis

36 73%

The Housemaid (2011)

"The Housemaid just feels rudely conceived, unresolved, and maybe a little confused about which among its many ideas and impulses are the most interesting."

Posted Oct 11, 2010

Nick Davis

37 71%

Never Let Me Go (2010)

"Strangely, Romanek often feels disarmed of exactly these vital organs that might have made him a sturdy, sharp renderer of this story. One senses he's too saddened by the tale he is spinning to take a risk on a demanding image."

Posted Sep 18, 2010

Nick Davis

38 97%

Mugabe and the White African (2010)

"The filmmakers leave massive and sometimes reactionary holes in a film that could easily have pled a more accommodating and sophisticated yet equally airtight case."

Posted Sep 6, 2010

Nick Davis

39 71%

Valhalla Rising (2010)

"I appreciate Refn for pushing against conventions of rhythm, photography, subject, color, and form, and I don't mind that Valhalla Rising lacks a story so much as I question its reliance on enigmatic hints of some grand, over-arching abstraction."

Posted Sep 4, 2010

Nick Davis

40 72%

The Last Exorcism (2010)

"Any film that forges as unruly a connection as this one does with its audience deserves some applause, especially when the film belongs to a genre where all too many of its peers come across as rote or as thoughtlessly, remorselessly heartless."

Posted Sep 4, 2010

Nick Davis

41 90%

Lebanon (Levanon) (2010)

"Not all films that attempt to govern their audiences so strictly, or so overtly advertise their own architectures of form and theme, have nearly the punch that Lebanon does."

Posted Aug 31, 2010

Nick Davis

42 86%

The Square (2010)

"The Square gets plenty of early elements in place to promise something more special than it ultimately becomes... Even a strong first impression can't survive such a flailing resolution."

Posted Aug 30, 2010

Nick Davis

43 62%

Make Out With Violence (2011)

"Builds a real air of mystery around the captive girl, what she is, what she is or isn't capable of doing, and what we're invited to feel about her or her caretaker-captors... Made with real filmmaking flair."

Posted Aug 30, 2010

Nick Davis

44 92%

Only When I Dance (Vida Ballet) (2010)

"It becomes impossible to take Only When I Dance seriously as more than the superficial account of a frustratingly tentative bystander."

Posted Aug 22, 2010

Nick Davis

45 ——

Borom Sarret (1963)

"Sembene's early short film encapsulates everything that is angry, witty, pellucid, and healthily, uncynically skeptical about his cinema."

Posted Aug 21, 2010

Nick Davis

46 97%

Animal Kingdom (2010)

"Almost every scene in Animal Kingdom includes some shot, some edit or avoidance of edit, some lighting effect, some performance gesture, or some sound element that breaks the scene out of the simplest grooves it might have obeyed."

Posted Aug 19, 2010

Nick Davis

47 81%

Cairo Time (2010)

"A reflective, surprisingly subtle piece about character and about location, when I had expected either a completely anodyne travelogue or a dogmatic, 'Yes'-style disquisition."

Posted Aug 15, 2010

Nick Davis

48 89%

Alle Anderen (Everyone Else) (2010)

"Maren Ade's sophisticated, incisive storytelling relies not on screaming matches but on the leads' marvelous attunement to each other, the ways in which they snag on the barest flickers of intimated feeling in each other's performances."

Posted Aug 15, 2010

Nick Davis

49 75%

Greenberg (2010)

"Greenberg is inevitably, productively divisive in tone and topical focus-and this in itself strikes me as a good thing-but you cannot say the filmmakers aren't trying to use all the resources available to the form."

Posted Aug 15, 2010

Nick Davis

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