Movie Diary 7/31/2014

Double Play: James Benning and Richard Linklater (Gabe Klinger, 2013). An appropriately non-forceful look at two filmmakers, evidently on the occasion of Benning’s return to Texas for a tribute. (We learn that Benning had been the first visiting director at the Austin Film Society, in the years before Linklater made Slacker.) In its own quiet way the documentary hints at some big questions about what movies are for and how people should make them. (full review 8/8)

The Barefoot Contessa (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1954). Also a movie that questions what movies are for, in its own manner. A strange, oddly suspended film in which the caustic showbiz satire of All About Eve (transferred here to the movie business) gets warped by the dreamy European locations and the fairy-tale allusions.

Movie Diary 7/30/2014

Get on Up (Tate Taylor, 2014). Chadwick Boseman was pretty interesting as Jackie Robinson in 42. But from the first moments in this one – as 1988-vintage James Brown, wearing a green track suit and toting a shotgun into a strip-mall meeting room to complain about people using his toilet – it is extremely clear that Boseman is exhilaratingly dialed in. (full review 8/1)

The Hundred-Foot Journey (Lasse Hallström, 2014). An Indian chef cooks in a Michelin-starred French restaurant, with many obstacles on the way. Quite a bit of expertise is ladled across this foodie movie, none of which entirely disguises the fact that the main ingredient here is corn. (full review 8/8)

Movie Diary 7/28/2014

The Darjeeling Limited (Wes Anderson, 2007). Time to look at this film again and see whether I’d like it more than I did when it was released. No, about the same – still charmed, not quite convinced.

A Letter to Three Wives (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1949). Not much to improve with this inventive Oscar-winner. The evening hijacked by radio drama is a classic, and the ensemble (including Thelma Ritter in her first really sizable role) is in tune.

The October Man (Roy Baker, 1947). Eric Ambler wrote this small-scale but very nifty suspense picture. John Mills plays a chap with a head injury who gets dragged into a “wrong man” scenario involving the woman who lives next door at the boarding house. The reliable Baker executes the shadowplay nicely.

Boyhood Origins (This Week’s Movies)

Patricia Arquette, Ellar Coltrane: a fragment of time in Boyhood

Patricia Arquette, Ellar Coltrane: a fragment of time in Boyhood

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

Boyhood. “Linklater calls for us to re-imagine how we treat movies and childhood.” (Here’s the SW version, in case of Herald paywall blockage.)

Cannibal. “The film is so beautifully lighted and framed that it’s almost as though Carlos is calling the shots, creating a movie world in which everything fits neatly into place.” (SW version.)

I Origins. “Once again the rationalists are forced to examine their atheistic beliefs – as they so often are in movies.” (SW version.)

And So It Goes. “The cranky-guy formula with very mild results.”

New installment of the Overlook Podcast ready for you: Put in the earbuds as former KUOW host Steve Scher and I talk about Mike Cahill’s I Origins and the tradition of films that favor the mystical over the rational. Check in here.

I turned up on KIRO radio’s “Mark Rahner Show” again last week, and we talked about The Purge: Anarchy, after which I stuck around for an exciting session of “Focus Group.” That hour is here; I come in halfway through.

Take a look at last month’s Framing Pictures panel, in which talkers Richard T. Jameson, Kathleen Murphy and I go over the likes of Snowpiercer, Jersey Boys, Edge of Tomorrow, and The Rover. Watch it online here. It’s also broadcast tonight at 8:30 on the Seattle Channel (likely channel 21 hereabouts).

 

 

Movie Diary 7/24/2014

The Black Sleep (Reginald Le Borg, 1956). Basil Rathbone invents a serum that replicates death; it’s a chance to operate on living brains. At one point in this slow but oddly satisfying movie, Rathbone is joined by Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney Jr., John Carradine, Akim Tamiroff, and Tor Johnson, all gathered under the same mansion roof. There’s also a secret passageway to a torture chamber/prison, accessible by moving a stone behind a roaring fireplace.

Movie Diary 7/23/2014

Guardians of the Galaxy (James Gunn, 2014). Spiffy character design, antic jokes, irreverent attitude. What’s not to like, other than the 3-D? (full review 8/1)

Movie Diary 7/21/2014

Cannibal (Manuel Martin Cuenca, 2013). A precise, almost fussy portrait of a title character who has the qualities of precision and fussiness. His dietary habits are interesting, as the title indicates. Antonio de la Torre is excellent in the title role, and the movie keeps its control through the end. (full review 7/25)

Sleuth (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1972). It might not look as good as it did to a 13-year-old viewer in 1972, but it’s still a romp. Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine know what to do with something like this.

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