released: 1977

directed by: David Lynch


written by: David Botros


Quite possibly his most famous film also happens to be his first.

Hard to imagine this came out in 1977 – except I mean that in a backwards sense.

Being shot in black and white immediately takes you back to classicism (this was released a decade after the Cassavetes boom of low-budget independent features) but besides the surface-level film look, the shot compositions are strongly akin to the silent pictures.

Seeing Mr Eraserhead walk through empty alleyways reminded me of a high-strung Chaplin.

I’ve seen this done a few times before, like in Under the Skin, where the opening is so surreal it feels disconnected from the rest of the movie.

I have no idea what the crustaceous man with the lever means;

I don’t know what any of the radiator stuff “symbolizes”;

I don’t even get the title.

Consider this less a story than some sort of meditation.

(One that is specifically interested in the fears of fatherhood.)

At least there is that anchor to latch onto, grounding the imagery to real emotions.

The same way House has a through-line that you can follow, Henry’s struggles with his … child, remain human enough in this un-human environment.

Also, it is surprisingly funny. (“OK, PAUL.”)

I felt the same thing watching Mulholland Drive (ie the napkin scene) where the strangeness is so out there that it comes across as ludicrous, albeit intentionally so.

Be warned: on the narrative spectrum, Eraserhead leans into the red where visuals supersede structure.

This one is definitely more … I guess you’d say “abstract” than Mulholland, but it remains an impressively unique vision.

Lynch’s darkly comedic, far out dreamscapes of the real world are quite a trip.


An excellent example of extremely personal filmmaking done without any hint of pretension.

Copyright © 2021 David Botros

Peeping Tom

peeping tom

released: 1960

directed by: Michael Powell


written by: David Botros


A seedy photographer who works in under-the-counter strip photography aspires to make a film –

He calls it his documentary.

We realize from the very beginning, however, that this is no March of the Penguins.

Because Mark Lewis is a murderer.

In the opening scene, he kills a lady of the night and films the whole thing.

Back in the dark room which doubles as his lair, he watches the footage to ensure it is up to his satisfaction.

Sounds breezy, right?

Releasing a movie this morally ambiguous and oftentimes suggestive (the title alone implicates voyeurism) in 1960 meant a great deal of boundaries were pushed.

As a matter of fact, this movie killed its director’s career.

It only became recognized and appreciated as an important film after being rereleased with Martin Scorsese’s advocation many years later.

Maybe the actual depiction of the murders might seem tame by today’s standards, but its subject matter is no less disturbing.

We find out certain things about our main character through the innocent eyes of his flatmate and romantic interest as the movie progresses …

Things that are actually shown to us by Lewis on a projector …

Instead of breaking momentum, these horrible flashbacks are played out in real time, on a real reel, which actually makes their presence all the more frightening.

Here is where Peeping Tom moves beyond the slasher genre and tackles a really interesting theme:

The subjectivity and sheer power of film as a medium.

We realize how dangerous it can be in the hands of someone as mentally scarred as Lewis, but at the same time, we the audience are watching a film about this man.

Our hero is a deranged killer!

What does that say about us?

Besides the innovative story material, the movie looks fantastic.

A lot of shots and scenes rely on clever reveals;

One in particular near the end featuring a wildly appropriate weapon of murder.


I feel like this is a film that would be carefully studied if it weren’t so overlooked, not only for its exploration of troubled minds, but for the radical effects filmmaking has put upon the general audience.

Copyright © 2021 David Botros

Mulholland Drive

mulholland drive

released: 2001

directed by: David Lynch


written by: David Botros


I don’t even know where to begin.

If this is your first David Lynch film as it was mine, nothing will prepare you for what you are about to see.

Being as vague as possible, the story is about a woman, Naomi Watts, pursuing her acting dream in glamorous LA.

Things take a turn, though, when an unexpected roommate tries to remember who she was prior to a car accident.

That’s maybe the thinnest layer I can describe to you of what this film is about.

So many more characters and incidents ebb and flow throughout this thing –


– Each character feels like the whole story is about them.

No matter how minor they seemed, how short of a time they were onscreen, I felt that everything else surrounded them specifically.

I’ve never seen another movie do that so perfectly.

Because of that, you can interpret this thing a million and one different ways.

I honestly don’t think there can be one definitive take, which is not even the point.

The point is: I felt a strong personal connection to what I was seeing.

And if you have seen or do decide to see it (which I highly recommend by the way) and feel the same, then Lynch did his job.

It’s about dreams.

It’s about the fabrication of reality.

It’s about movies, fantasy, jealousy, insanity, and old people.

These ideas aren’t simply dialogued, they are in the very fabric of the film.

I’ll give you an example:

I was surprised by how awfully clear some of the ADR was early on.

That, plus the overexposure in lighting, made some scenes feel cheaply made.

And I’d always heard how awesome and non-cheap Lynch was … so I accepted it.

If you sit back and surrender yourself to this experience, it is worth it.

You don’t HAVE to understand; what you will do is think about it long after the credits roll.

Some of these sequences are forever engraved into my memory.

One involving an audition, and another a 60s style studio booth along with two specific songs.

That’s all I’ll say here because it’s best to go in blind, but there’s so much more we can go into.


For now, if you haven’t seen it, and if you thought Donnie Darko was strange – then add this to your watchlist.

Copyright © 2021 David Botros

The Gunfighter

the gunfighter

released: 1950

directed by: Henry King


written by: David Botros


What I loved most about this old-school western might sound a little silly but it’s true, and it’s simple:

The story.

Jimmy Ringo, fastest gun in the west, is tired of outgunning everyone else.

If it weren’t for his murder count, he’d be a likable guy …

Which he is.

Gregory Peck, who plays Ringo, has the old Hollywood charm of a leading man.

You can’t help but respect his confidence in the toughest of situations.

One of the best scenes in the movie is when this Robert Ford type kid confronts Ringo in a saloon.

He’s trying to rattle him, start a fight, but Ringo just sits back and tells him he’s had a gun pointed at him the whole time (a precursor to the Inglourious Basterds basement pub).

It’s only when the kid leaves that we see he was just filing his nails beneath the table.

I guess what I meant by loving the story is that Henry King doesn’t rely on flashy scenes or a heavily imposing style to carry the film;

In simply letting everything play out in front of the camera as if we were mere spectators to the reality of the situation, I found myself genuinely invested.

Plus, the movie is less interested in the coolness of the outlaw as it is with his forbidden desire to see his family one last time.


An oldie but a goodie.

Copyright © 2021 David Botros



released: 1977

directed by: Nobuhiko Obayashi


written by: David Botros


I knew zero things going in, and being glad that I did, I shan’t even try to explain what this movie is about.

Not that this movie can be ruined by spoilers –

It just can’t really be explained.

One of those stories that wouldn’t work in any other medium.

You can’t read House, you can’t see it on stage, you can’t even have it described to you:

It can only be this movie.

And this movie plays with the properties of film unlike anything I’ve seen before.

The screen becomes clay; every single shot is like its own living organism.

You know how in a narrative feature you expect shots to work within the context of other shots?

Take that, crumple it up and toss it out of your head.

Every new cut is more staggering than the last.

One doesn’t know what to expect in the next scene, let alone the next frame.

That is not to say that this is some highbrow art film that you pass along a gallery wall.

A lot of the effects are intentionally rough and unrealistic – something the director meant to appear as though a child had created them.

A disturbed child, to be sure.

House is labelled as a horror film, but it’s not horror in the traditional sense;

Although there’s a great deal of red, it doesn’t fit as a slasher;

There are tense moments, but they don’t resolve themselves as a thriller would.

It is horror through imagery, pure visuals.

Beneath it all there is definitely a structure that invites speculation – many have pointed to one scene in particular as a reflection on Hiroshima, the director Obayashi having been personally affected by the bombings.

It’s like we’re looking through a lens pointed directly into his mind.


For that reason (need there be any other?), this movie is special.

Copyright © 2021 David Botros

Un Flic

un flic

released: 1972

directed by: Jean-Pierre Melville


written by: David Botros


Stupid me: always thought that Un Flic would translate to a flick, like a movie flick, like a movie about movies.

I guess I should have expected it to mean a French policeman coming from one of, if not the greatest, crime directors in cinema.

This one just so happens to be his last.

Simply put, the story is about bank robbers and what happens when you try to rob a bank.

Like all of the films I’ve seen from Melville, the actions are simple –

But the way they are presented to you is far from it.

I had to really think about what I’d seen to piece it together because whilst watching I was constantly trying to keep up, which, in the hands of someone who is a master of their craft, is a good thing.

Think Alfred Hitchcock’s set pieces brought to you by Christopher Nolan.

One thing I took particular notice of was the editing; the way shots would cut back and forth to create suspense.

Picture two people looking straight at each other with the camera right in between.

In one frame you have a man’s face, the other, a woman’s, and neither says a word.

You expect two shots, cutting from the man to the woman.

What Melville does is he splices two shots into several, cutting back quicker each time.

It’s uneasy.

I found myself expecting some sound or other abrupt signal to end the acceleration, but the film just carries on, leaving you with that tension.

Again: very simple, but incredibly effective.

Beyond the technical narrative techniques, Melville’s films are enshrouded in a unique visual look.

Everything is tinted a deep blue, a fog is almost always low to the ground, the sky constantly clouded.

It is foreboding but also kinda comforting in that European sort of way.

Although this movie is in French, one could likely follow along without subtitles, considering how much is presented without dialogue.

Purely action –

Watch for the train scene alone.


A stylish neo-noir crime flick (that’s not actually about flicks).

Copyright © 2021 David Botros

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

butch cassidy and the sundance kid

released: 1969

directed by: George Roy Hill


written by: David Botros


A small-scale western about two outlaws and their true-to-life endeavors.

Much has been said about Messers Newman and Redford –

They bounce off of each other like the greatest of duos.

Just like a pairing as iconic as Abbott and Costello harmoniously riffed off of their differences, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid are fun to watch even in the simplest of moments.

Which what I found to be surprising was how this movie dishes them out in plenty.

Amongst some excellent action scenes are little bits of banter that make these criminals all the more endearing.

The overall hushed tone of the film is set up from the opening credits, and it is sustained throughout by a lo-fi melancholy soundtrack.

If anything, the lack of grand orchestral moments which one might find in a Sergio Leone epic elevates the tension as the pair are being chased by the relentlessly ominous force of the law.

We know that the days of thieving bandits and vagabond desperados are long gone –

These two don’t.

They’re fighting a battle that’s already lost.


Complete with great writing, performances, and a clear vision, this movie is truly a swan song to that bygone era and a landmark in 60s cinema.

Copyright © 2021 David Botros

The Young Girls of Rochefort

the young girls of rochefort

released: 1967

directed by: Jacques Demy


written by: David Botros


Ya like La La Land?

Me too.

How about the French? Do you like the French?

I sure do. (Read: I think I do?)

Take the opening scene of La La Land, stretch it so it’s a couple of hours long, and set it in the most picturesque little French town you can imagine:

That’s this movie.

It’s designed to give you as much joy as possible.

Over the course of a few days, we weave in and out of the lives of a dozen characters.

And as the musical numbers progress they start to interconnect in front of our eyes.

The crazy thing is there’s no conflict, no real drama to keep you invested –

And yet you can’t look away.

Maybe that’s because of the visually popping wardrobes and set design, or the expertly choreographed dance sequences (brought to you by Gene Kelly!) who’s actually in the movie and dare I say I could not stop smiling when he was.

But that still doesn’t explain why I was so invested.

In truth, the film plays like a romcom where the audience is always two steps ahead of the characters.

We are constantly waiting for them to run into each other like pieces of a puzzle; the closer they get, the more you want to jump into the screen and shove ’em together.

Director Jacques Demy is careful to never make it frustrating.

If anything, the pacing is akin to a summer breeze.

Shots would last for minutes on end, oftentimes flowing from one point of view to another.

And I must address: the music by Michel Legrand.

It’s witty, it’s lively, it’s meaningful to the story, and above all it is fun.

To be honest, I think this is one of the rare cases I’ve seen where the story in a musical is more appealing than the visuals, which are in and of themselves incredible.

Hell, even when they’re not singing, they’re rhyming!


An uplifting gem to say the least.

Copyright © 2021 David Botros



released: 1995

directed by: Mel Gibson


written by: David Botros


The story of William Wallace and the freedom of the Scottish folk from beneath England’s empire.

I’ll be straight with you and say: I don’t know my medieval history as well as some.

I’ve read that the movie romanticizes, exaggerates, and takes liberties with certain plot-lines.

That may be true, but does it succeed in telling its tale?


If anything this movie is as bow-and-arrow straight to the point as it gets.

Not too long ago, people held their arguments over absolute bloody warfare, and the Christ-like figure of Wallace pulls no punches.

Reversely, it’s not about forgiveness: it’s about taking what’s yours.

Those battle scenes fly by yet they are paced perfectly.

Each new fight has its own clever traps; the Scotts don’t win by sheer force – like Gibson’s character teaches them, it’s about employing your wits.

The landscapes paired with the music give off a strong aroma of Middle Earth.

Some of the sequences are pure adrenaline fueled empowerment –

And in contrast you have the inspiring force of romance to appeal to all the bloodthirsty lovebirds out there.

One thing that threw me off was the passage of time.

Because the movie hardly ever lets up, you start to lose track of how many years have passed between each encounter.


This movie’s like a spear to the heart, in a good way.

Copyright © 2021 David Botros

The Invisible Man

the invisible man

released: 2020

directed by: Leigh Whannell


written by: David Botros


I remember seeing the trailer and reeeally not looking forward to this.

Assumed they would give it the modern-day jump scare franchise treatment – just take the invisible man and plop him into today.

However: I was unaware this was the same guy who directed Upgrade.

I was also unaware of how well Leigh Whannell, writer as well as director, was able to incorporate the goofy concept of a man who is in.vis.i.ble. into a genuinely engaging story.

Because really, it’s about control.

Control in relationships, control over your sanity, control over your own decisions.

This woman who’s undergone severe trauma (thanks to her spouse) feels she is haunted by him at all times.

The best thing this movie does is make you question the movie itself.

After a superb setup of tension, especially with the help of some claustrophobic sound design, I was constantly searching for signs, clues, as to where something or someone might be.

Just giving you a wide shot with nothing particularly surreal in the frame is enough now that you aware of the premise.

Scares are well earned, although a little goofy when things start to become less invisible.

That doesn’t take away from the fact that there are some genuinely unexpected moments here.

I thought the psychological parts were far more investing than the sci-fi/horror, and a really unique take on the whole invisible man brand.

As it’s moving along, you don’t only question the shots, but the characters.

Everything is left intentionally ambiguous so that different interpretations can be thought up.

I, personally, like the idea of an unstable protagonist, so that’s the lens I chose to look through.

And the beauty of ambiguity is that by the end, all perspectives are considered plausible.


A fun thriller that’s got a little more on its mind.

Copyright © 2021 David Botros