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.

Summer’s Purge (This Week’s Movies)

Amanda Langlet, Melvil Poupaud: Worth the wait in Eric Rohmer's A Summer's Tale

Amanda Langlet, Melvil Poupaud: Worth the wait in Eric Rohmer’s A Summer’s Tale

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

A Summer’s Tale. “Rohmer, as always, has the touch when it comes to tracking the tiny shifts in intensity between people.”

The Purge: Anarchy. “A big improvement on the original.”

Wish I Was Here. “Unwaveringly earnest.”

As It Is in Heaven. “Purified, stripped bare, and ornament-free.”

Sunday, July 20, the talkers of Framing Pictures (in this case Richard T. Jameson, Bruce Reid, and yours truly) will return for another discussion on movies. We’ll be at the Northwest Film Forum at 5:30, and the event is free; topics include the concept of the guilty pleasure, Richard Linklater’s long-gestating Boyhood, and Eric Rohmer’s long-arriving A Summer’s Tale. Check out our Facebook page for updates here.

As for the previous session of Framing Pictures, it’s being broadcast this weekend on the Seattle Channel (often channel 21 around here) at 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights as well as thereafter (check the schedule); you can also watch it online right here. The conversation ranges across Snowpiercer, Jersey Boys, The Rover, and Edge of Tomorrow.

Tuesday July 22, join me in Olympia, WA, for “The Movie Mashup: Wild Literary Adaptations on Film,” a talk in the Humanities Washington Speakers series. This one’s 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 6:30 p.m., Olympia Timberland Library,  and it’s free.

We used to talk on the radio, and now we podcast. Steve Scher and I invite you to check in to another session of the Overlook Podcast, in which we talk about Richard Linklater’s Boyhood and how the cinema uses time as a subject. That one’s here. And if you’re still catching up and have a half-hour to kill, listen to our super-sized episode, which ranges from the mistreatment of movies shown in public places to Snowpiercer and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. That one’s here.

Movie Diary 7/16/2014

I Origins (Mike Cahill, 2014). The director of Another Earth returns with another woo-woo sci-fi offering, and if you liked that one you might like this one. Michael Pitt and Brit Marling lead the cast. If she married him, she’d be Brit Pitt. (full review 7/25)

Dragonwyck (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1946). Gothic doings with dreamy-headed farm daughter Gene Tierney called in to assist at mysterious cousin Vincent Price’s grand Hudson River mansion. Lots of ceilings in this movie. Arthur Miller photographed, and Alfred Newman scored; they both earned their money.

Movie Diary 7/15/2014

Wish I Was Here (Zach Braff, 2014). A Kickstartered follow-up to Braff’s unexpected 2004 hit, Garden State. The director-star remains adept at comedy – but you understand, what he really wants to do is drama. (full review 7/18)

The Purge: Anarchy (James DeMonaco, 2014). It used to be, before the endless cycle of film festivals and nonstop Twitter, that you could be surprised by a movie. Now that mostly happens with a movie like this. And in fact, this movie’s a surprise – a solid genre picture, good cast (Frank Grillo and Carmen Egojo, notably), and utterly gonzo eat-the-rich attitude. (full review 7/18) By the way, in what midnight dream will today’s two films be mixed together?

Movie Diary 7/14/2014

A Summer’s Tale (Eric Rohmer, 1996). This installment of Rohmer’s “four seasons” cycle never actually got released for a proper run in the United States, for some reason. So here it is. And it is extremely nice to have an Eric Rohmer film playing. (full review 7/18)

Cleopatra (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1963). Lots of dialogue ringing out in those vast empty sets. You almost suspect Mankiewicz was under the impression that he was making something serious, were it not for the occasional old-time gag.

As It Is in Heaven (Joshua Overbay, 2014). Indie study of a small-time Southern cult, very minimalist but with a fondness for the moving camera. The apocalyptic breeze continues to blow through these end times. (full review 7/18)

Magic in the Moonlight (Woody Allen, 2014). It’s embargoed! Who knew? (full review 8/8)


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