Movie Diary 4/22/2014

Chef (Jon Favreau, 2014). Favreau’s heart is definitely in the right place. The device of cooking as a substitute for filmmaking is so thinly disguised I’m not sure the actors didn’t mix up the two subjects once in a while. Favreau really likes to lecture. (full review 5/16)

The Other Woman (Nick Cassavetes, 2014). Bit screechy at times, but I admit I laughed at a few of the sillier moments (many of them manufactured by the antic Leslie Mann). (full review 4/25)

Movie Diary 4/21/2014

Black Caesar (Larry Cohen, 1973). Blaxplo-tainment from the estimable exploitation man Cohen. Some potent scenes throughout (when you see a shoeshine kit set in front of an American flag, you have a pretty good sense that the climax is going to be killer). Fred Williamson is the star.

Bonnie and Clyde (Arthur Penn, 1967). Watch the opening eight minutes and take notes, because that’s how to open a movie. And hey, what about all those who disapproved of this film and said it was irresponsible in its excitement over glamorous criminals? Yeah, they were right.

The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond (Budd Boetticher, 1960). Hadn’t seen this one since Boetticher introduced it at the Telluride Film Festival in the early 1980s. Ray Danton is one cold gangster, but he’s definitely got strategies.

Al Capone (Richard Wilson, 1959). Rod Steiger – well, you get it. Helluva fun performance to watch.

Honey (Valeria Golino, 2013). First feature directed by the actress. And except for a few wobbles in the vicinity of over-patness, it has some good things in it. (full review 4/25)

La Ultima Pelicula (Raya Martin, Mark Peranson, 2013). Lark that owes equal dues to Dennis Hopper, Godard, and Apocalypse Coppola. So it’s got that demographic sewn up. (full review 4/25)

Partridge Transcendence (Weekly Links)

Johnny Depp, proposing Transcendence

Johnny Depp, proposing Transcendence

Links to reviews I wrote this week for the Herald and Seattle Weekly.

Transcendence. “Even the sure-fire gotcha moments don’t land with the expected punch.”

Joe. “A textured world of shacks, dirt roads, and long-simmering resentments.”

Alan Partridge. “Toxic egotism.”

Steve Scher and I continue the ongoing conversation that is the Overlook Podcast. The latest session delves into Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin; sink into that here.

Movie Diary 4/17/2014

Only Lovers Left Alive (Jim Jarmusch, 2013). Vampires, the exotic locations of Tangiers and Detroit, and some cornball jokes. It’s good. Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston are convincing on all counts.

Movie Diary 4/15/2014

Transcendence (Wally Pfister, 2014). It seems right that Johnny Depp would want to do a variation on Donovan’s Brain. This one has a paucity of cheese, somehow, even if it does have Rebecca Hall and Paul Bettany trying their best. (full review 4/18)

Underworld U.S.A. (Samuel Fuller, 1961). It gets better every time. And “National Projects” is such a great name for a crime syndicate.

Movie Diary 4/14/2014

Scarface (Howard Hawks, 1932). A lot of the movie’s crazy – really crazy – energy seems to come straight from the ambitious head of Tony Camonte. It sure is a film about death: how to meet it, how casually it comes.

White Heat (Raoul Walsh, 1949). One situation after another, many of them improvised by Cody Jarrett as circumstances demand. This is one psychopath that thinks quick on his feet. And how about Cagney: wandering around in the dark, “talkin’ to Ma,” and finding it a good feeling.

Alan Partridge (Declan Lowney, 2013). Steve Coogan’s media dunce is not well known in the U.S., but this reasonably funny vehicle gives a useful showcase. (full review 4/18)

Unknown Draft Raid (Weekly Links)

Yayan Ruhian, fantastically cool: The Raid 2

Yayan Ruhian, fantastically cool: The Raid 2

Links to reviews I wrote this week for the Herald and Seattle Weekly, and etc.

The Raid 2. “Some kind of pulp achievement.”

Draft Day. “Some of the most useless split-screen in memory.”

The Unknown Known. “Ever-expanding circles of rhetoric – a Yogi Berra elevated to a position of life and death.”

Exhibition. “Hogg has made a consistently intriguing movie.”

Steve Scher and I used to talk on the radio; now we podcast. Tune in to a new session of The Overlook, as we wonder about what happened to Westerns and what the good ones are of late. Check in here.

Saturday April 12, join me in Tumwater, WA, for “The Movie Mashup: Wild Literary Adaptations on Film,” a look at some of the kookier ways movies have treated original texts: how The Odyssey became O Brother, Where Art Thou? and The Tempest turned into Forbidden Planet - that kind of thing. In the meantime, we’ll think about how movies differ from literature, always a rich subject. This is at 2 p.m., Tumwater Timberland Library, and it’s free. More here.

Sunday April 13, I’ll introduce a free screening of Hisako Matsui’s 2010 film Léonie, a biopic of Isamu Noguchi’s mother, Léonie Noguchi. That’s at 2 p.m.; more info here.

Thursday April 17, join me for “The End of the Trail: How the Movie Western Rode Into the Sunset,” a free talk in the Humanities Washington Speakers Bureau series. That’s at the Jefferson County Library in Port Hadlock, WA, at 6:30 p.m. More info here.

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