Month: September 2006

Operation — Annihilate!, TOS 1

1/2 The best thing here is the location photography: SoCal aerospace office plazas make for a good outer rim science colony. I totally dig it. This is the one where these flying jellyfish hit Spock in the back and give him crippling and debilitating pain. And where we learn he has an “inner eyelid” (but forgets to tell anyone, so we can all think his light therapy made him blind.) I dunno. This episode is...

Read More

The City On The Edge Of Forever, TOS 1

A lot of people say this is the best episode of Trek ever. I’m not going to argue with that, it just may be true. The script is credited to Harlan Ellison and it does have some heavy themes in it. While some of the nerdish specific points don’t make a whole heck of a lot of sense, there is something surprising in this episode — there is some real, honest character development. I’m not going to lie to you, I got a little choked up at the end when I watched this today. When Kirk says, “Let’s get the hell out of here” it is a crushing moment. We all like to joke about Shatner because, well, he’s a such a friggin’ doofus. . .but he gives a really solid performance here. Ann’s favorite all time...

Read More

The Alternative Factor, TOS 1

1/2 Oy. This episode pretty much sucks. It makes no sense (if matter + antimatter make the universe go boom, why can Kirk run between universes with no problem? And how exactly are the two Lazaruses switching places? And which one is evil? And. . .oh, never mind. . . ) The saving grace are the endless scenes of far out psychedelic special effects shots. Some of them look straight out of Stan Brakhage. It’s just so relentless that they achieve some sort of poetry. This plus the addition of Lt. Masters, a second African-American woman in a high rank. (Turns out part of the reason this episode sucks is because they had to add filler to make up for the love story that was yanked at the last minute between white Lazarus and black Masters. Plus, John Drew Barrymore forgot to come to set that day and they had to get a last minute replacement for the guest shot....

Read More

Viridiana (1961), Luis Bunuel, B

Here’s something only an honest man would say: I enjoyed this film, but I don’t think I understood it. I mean, I followed the plot — the plot is fairly simple — I just don’t think I connected with the film’s deeper meaning. And there definitely was some deeper meaning. The movie was banned in Spain for decades, so it better mean something. What is the message of this film? Don’t trust the poor? Embrace soulless modernity? I. . .I just think I’m missing something. Fun movie on the surface, though — good performances and a blow-out party scene that is very...

Read More

Buena Vista Social Club (1999), Wim Wenders, A-

Maybe I lost my mind a little bit in 1999 when I first reviewed this movie. It is great, really friggin’ great, yes. . .but it isn’t as perfect as I once thought. (And it isn’t Wim Wenders’ best film, either.) God damn this video transfer! I saw it in the theaters twice and it was projected on film — why on earth is it straight video on DVD? Why? Anyway, the music is terrific — it really brings me back to 1999, when I had a well paying job and was planning to vote for Nader in the next year’s election. So the music evokes a very specific time for me – not quite perhaps what Ry Cooder had in...

Read More


Jordan Hoffman is a New York-based writer and film critic working for The Guardian, Vanity Fair, Thrillist, Times of Israel, NY Daily News and elsewhere.

He is the host of ENGAGE: The Official Star Trek Podcast, a member of the New York Film Critics Circle and challenges you to a game of backgammon.

Follow me on Twitter