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)

Half of Planet Venus (This Week’s Movies)

Emmanuelle Seigner, Mathieu Amalric in Roman Polanski's Venus in Fur

Emmanuelle Seigner, Mathieu Amalric in Roman Polanski’s Venus in Fur

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

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. “Far too many scenes of apes and humans clasping hands and hugging monkey babies.”

Venus in Fur. “An extended and often hilarious riff on power plays and erotic gamesmanship, both of which are offered here in ripe-flowering abundance.”

Half of a Yellow Sun. “Something powerful about the juxtaposition of images, as the movie travels from bright, stylish academics debating philosophy to soldiers carrying bloodied machetes through the middle of the street.”

Third Person. “Enigmatic and a little thin.”

The Overlook Podcast puts another session up soon; in the meantime, hear what Steve Scher and I have been up to at our website.

I’ve been popping in on the Mark Rahner Show on KIRO radio (97.3) lately. Check out last week’s show online, in which we talk about the Roger Ebert documentary Life Itself. And listen on Saturday (my segment goes at 4:30) for a look at Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

And early warning: The talkers of Framing Pictures will convene another sit-down conversation about what’s on at the movies; we’ll be at the Northwest Film Forum at 5:30 on Sunday afternoon, July 20. Check our Facebook page for updates.

Movie Diary 7/8/2014

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (Matt Reeves, 2014). I think the embargo on comments about this movie is in place, despite the reviews that are already out about it. But it’s got apes, humans, and quite a bit of hugging. (full review 7/11)

Movie Diary 7/7/2014

Half of a Yellow Sun (Biyi Bandele, 2013). Personal and political travails in Nigeria in the 1960s, leading to the disaster of the Biafran war. The film never quite escapes the sense of telescoping history, although the settings are evocative and Thandie Newton and Anika Noni Rose are formidable as sisters in the conflict – somewhat overshadowing Chiwetel Ejiofor, in fact. (full review 7/11)

Suddenly, Last Summer (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1959). The Tennessee Williams play brought to life by the strange but fascinating trio of Elizabeth Taylor, Monty Clift, and Katharine Hepburn. Mankiewicz’s style remains calm even as the subject becomes increasingly baroque.

Life, Earth, Again (This Week’s Reviews)

Keira Knightley, Begin Again

Keira Knightley, Begin Again

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

Life Itself. “A blunt, stirring portrait of illness.”

Tammy. “You know a performer has defined her comic persona when she scores big laughs with her face covered.”

Earth to Echo. “Charm is in short supply.”

Begin Again. “Arranged around music: its composition, its performance, its meaning.”

Listen to the latest edition of the Overlook Podcast, as Steve Scher and I do a “live” version before a screening of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Lodger at the University Branch of the Seattle Public Library. Our thoughts (and the audience’s comments) on Hitchcock are posted here.

Could it be 50 years since the opening of A Hard Day’s Night? The film is being released again to theaters, undoubtedly with some new restoration. An excuse to remember a previous re-release and a movie about pure joy: read here.

 

Movie Diary 7/2/2014

Five Steps to Danger (Henry S. Kesler, 1957). A peculiar combination of noir and Red-tinted espionage, with Ruth Roman racing across the Southwest to deliver a whatsis and Sterling Hayden tagging along for the ride. It’s far-fetched, but it does scoot right along. Also has some good cars, motel rooms, and gas stations. I watched pretty closely, but I don’t know what the five steps have to do with anything.

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