Movie Diary 10/29/2014

The Imitation Game (Morten Tyldum, 2014). The true story’s a humdinger, and there’s a batch of good British actors, and Tyldum directed the ridiculously fun Headhunters. So that’s why people are already calling the Oscar race. Maybe, but it is nice to have a movie come down on the side of reason and logic. (full review 11/21)

Goodbye, Dragon Inn (Tsai Ming-Liang, 2003). Somehow missed this one the first time around: Tsai spinning mood and humor out of a near-empty movie theater showing King Hu’s Dragon Inn. Droll and lovely. Doing some prep here for a Magic Lantern talk about filmmakers who make Time a character in movies.

Movie Diary 10/28/2014

Nightcrawler (Dan Gilroy, 2014). Jake Gyllenhaal is a creepy newcomer to the world of freelance video journalism, skulking through nighttime L.A. in search of tragedy. Lots of satire tossed around, but pretty well-controlled, and Gyllenhaal isn’t so much Travis Bickle as Rupert Pupkin. Directing debut for Gilroy, brother of Tony. (full review 10/31)

Rosewater (Jon Stewart, 2014). The Daily Show host’s first feature as director, about journalist Maziar Bahari (Gael Garcia Bernal) getting imprisoned in his native Iran. Not too many revelations, but interesting deployment of humor throughout. (full review 11/14)

Movie Diary 10/27/2014

Thanks to the Elliott Bay Book Co. for a great (and stormy) evening Saturday night, as I read from my Frankenstein book. The store has a bunch of autographed copies on the shelf, so please run down and thin the ranks.

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The Phantom of the Opera (Rupert Julian, 1925). The horror classic remains snappy, with Lon Chaney creating a persuasive villain despite having his face covered for half his performance. Nice 35 mm. show at the Paramount Theatre.

The Theory of Everything (James Marsh, 2014). The life and loves of Stephen Hawking, as directed by the guy who made Wisconsin Death Trip. Hmm. Eddie Redmayne stars, with Felicity Jones, and not too many surprises. (full review 11/14)

Young Ones (Jake Paltrow, 2014). Future dystopia, but a bit of a Western, too. Three former child stars – Nicholas Hoult, Elle Fanning, and Kodi Smit-McPhee – navigate the uneven but not entirely unintriguing scenario. (full review 10/31)

My Gun Is Quick (Phil Victor and George White, 1957). A Mike Hammer picture, with Robert Bray in the role. Physically, he’s got the goods; acting-wise, maybe not as much. Weird movie, incompetent but kind of jazzy, too.

Mad Love (Karl Freund, 1935). Peter Lorre in signature strangeness as the brilliant surgeon who will replace pianist Colin Clive’s crushed hands with those of a murderer, and try to convince Frances Drake she should love his crazy bald self.

Listen Up Birdman (This Week’s Movies)

Michael Keaton, Edward Norton: Unexpected Ignorance in Birdman

Michael Keaton, Edward Norton: Unexpected Ignorance in Birdman

Links to my reviews published this week in the Herald and Seattle Weekly, and etc.

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). “Keaton is a splendidly weathered, human presence.” (In case of Herald paywall, Seattle Weekly version.)

John Wick. “Ridiculous but satisfying action.” (Weekly version.)

Listen Up Philip. “Philip is self-centered, vindictive, and – worst of all – articulate.” (Weekly version.)

Stonehearst Asylum. “Even for genre fans, the action will feel hackneyed.” (Weekly version.)

Saturday October 25, I’ll be reading at Elliott Bay Book Company in support of Frankenstein (see below), my book from Columbia University Press. The free event begins at 7 p.m.


At the Overlook Podcast, Steve Scher and I talk about Birdman and Michael Keaton. Spend a little time with us here.


Movie Diary 10/23/2014

Citizenfour (Laura Poitras, 2014). The documentary about Edward Snowden focuses on the days when his information about the NSA spying went public. That is frequently fascinating stuff, and Snowden is a real study – articulate, quick, paranoid. (full review 10/31)

Movie Diary 10/21/2014

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (Alejandro G. Iñárritu, 2014). Long unbroken takes, showbiz satire, magical realism, spirited cast – whatever else you say about this thing, there’s certainly a lot to watch. Michael Keaton plays an actor, formerly typecast as a caped superhero, now trying to make a comeback in the legit theater. (full review 10/24)

John Wick (Chad Stahelski, David Leitch, 2014). Unaware that grown men faint at the mention of the name John Wick, some Russian gangsters kill Mr. Wick’s dog. Many are slaughtered after. Keanu Reeves is still around doing these. Ludicrous in many ways, but …. (full review 10/24)

Listen Up, Philip (Alex Ross Perry, 2014). Nice casting for Jason Schwartzman as a near-sociopathic author who repels people; Elisabeth Moss and Jonathan Pryce are aces in support. (full review 10/24)

Stonehearst Asylum (Brad Anderson, 2014). It’s a Poe story, but nobody thought to include Roger Corman as a producer? Can’t tell you which Poe, because that would give it away. An old-fashioned enterprise. (full review 10/24)

The Passionate Friends (David Lean, 1949). Had not watched this one in a while: former lovers Ann Todd and Trevor Howard get older and occasionally meet, which is complicated after she marries successful and stable Claude Rains. Lean’s precision is something to marvel at. But he is no mere technician, as the sympathies in the storyline suggest.

St. Fury of Me (This Week’s Movies)

Brad Pitt, a rare moment of calm in David Ayer's Fury

Brad Pitt, a rare moment of calm in David Ayer’s Fury

Links to reviews I published this week in the Herald and Seattle Weekly, and etc.

Fury. “A distillation of hell.”

St. Vincent. “If it were a better movie, this would be a signature role, because it’s all about the Murray persona.”

The Best of Me. “A truly ludicrous scenario that gets more face-slappingly incredible as it goes on.”

Rudderless. “Casual verisimilitude.”

Sunday October 19 I’ll present a free talk in the Magic Lantern series at the Frye Art Museum. It’s called “Hitchcock Re-mastered: The Many Lives of Psycho,” a look at how the 1960 masterpiece has reverberated through culture, including Gus Van Sant’s remake, a batch of sequels, the TV series Bates Motel, and installation works such as Douglas Gordon’s 24 Hour Psycho and James Franco’s Psycho Nacirema. The talk begins at 2; more info here.

Speaking of which, here’s an exchange I had with Charles Mudede of the Stranger, talking about the Psycho event at the Frye.

Saturday October 25, I’ll be reading at Elliott Bay Book Company in support of Frankenstein, my recent book from Columbia University Press. The free event begins at 7 p.m.

At the Overlook Podcast, Steve Scher and I talk about the unusual career of Bill Murray; listen in here.

On last week’s “Mark Rahner Show,” on KIRO Radio, we talk about Dracula Untold and play a round of “Focus Group.” Tune in here.


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