Judge Dracula, Zero January (This Week’s Movies)

Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst among the ruins: The Two Faces of January

Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst among the ruins: The Two Faces of January

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

The Judge. “Very much a Downey performance, full of quicksilver responses and sneaky humor.” (In case of Herald paywall, here’s the Seattle Weekly version.)

Dracula Untold. “Now it’s been told. And it’s pretty boring.”

The Zero Theorem. “Signature Gilliam: Visually exuberant and robustly cynical.” (Weekly version.)

The Two Faces of January. “Languorous portrait of people at loose ends in Europe.” (Weekly version.)

Alexander and the Horrible, Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. “Dad catches on fire at a Japanese restaurant.”

New Overlook Podcast due today; meantime, listen to last week’s show, which looks at books adapted into movies (including Gone Girl) and includes librarian extraordinaire Nancy Pearl in the conversation.

I popped up again on KIRO radio’s “Mark Rahner Show,” thinking about Gone Girl. That session is archived here; stay tuned for a lightning round of the thrilling segment known as “Focus Group.”

Early-ish warning: 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.

Saturday October 25, I’ll be reading at Elliott Bay Book Company in support of Frankenstein. The free event begins at 7 p.m.

 

Movie Diary 10/7/2014

Dracula Untold (Gary Shore, 2014). This one means to be the Original Vampire saga, with Luke Evans as Vlad the Impaler himself. But did you know the first Dracula was also a family man? In this one, Vlad tries to save wife and child from the invading Ottoman Empire, portrayed here as ISIS-like baddies in search of new turf for the caliphate. Bonus: An epilogue hints at the “shared universe” of Universal monster movies to come. Time to get Glenn Strange out of retirement. (full review 10/10)

Movie Diary 10/6/2014

The Judge (David Dobkin, 2014). Robert Downey, Jr., is a hotshot lawyer come home to defend dad Robert Duvall in a small-town murder case. The early reaction to this prestige offering was dismissive, but there’s a little more spikiness than you might expect, and Downey is peppy. (full review 10/10)

Psycho II (Richard Franklin, 1983); Psycho III (Anthony Perkins, 1986). First time re-visiting these sequels since their debuts. Perkins is an amazing presence. I’m prepping a talk in the Frye Art Museum’s Magic Lantern series, a look at the long shadow of Psycho and how it has been replicated.

Homicidal (William Castle, 1961). Distinct Psycho echoes notwithstanding, this is one weird movie. It is also a film in which the characters say each others’ names incessantly.

The Zero Theorem (Terry Gilliam, 2014). Lots of signature Gilliam material, and a definite bonus in the figure of Christoph Waltz. (full review 10/10)

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (Miguel Arteta, 2014). Kid-book adaptation, with the right take on things but maybe not enough Arteta personality in it. (full review 10/10)

Gone Tracks (This Week’s Movies)

Rosamund Pike, Ben Affleck: Gone Girl

Rosamund Pike, Ben Affleck: Gone Girl

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

Gone Girl. “Truly odd movie.”

Tracks. “True in spirit to the kind of soul that would really take this journey.” (In case of Herald paywall, here’s the Seattle Weekly version.)

Kelly & Cal. “Doesn’t have the nerve to go all the way.” (Weekly version.)

The Liberator. “The Great Man school of biography is alive – if not particularly well.” (Weekly version.)

Tonight, October 3, join me in Edmonds, 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 7 p.m., Edmonds Public Library,  and it’s free.

mashup

 

The Overlook Podcast has a crossover episode: In this one Steve Scher and I are joined by Book Lust author and librarian extraordinaire Nancy Pearl, as we sort through thoughts of movie adaptations from books, with Gone Girl the particular focus. Give a listen here.

Movie Diary 10/1/2014

St. Vincent (Theodore Melfi, 2014). A big juicy role for Bill Murray, which ought to be enough justification for seeing a movie – but you know better than that. The most inspired sequence comes during the end credits, so no spoilers, but it’s a sweet little stand-alone. (full review 10/10)

Movie Diary 9/29/2014

Gone Girl (David Fincher, 2014). I am proof that you can remain outside a cultural phenomenon until the movie comes out, yet form an impression anyway – which might turn out to be completely false. Maybe that’s why the tone and approach of Fincher’s adaptation really threw me. (full review 10/3)

Kelly & Cal (Jen McGowan, 2014). Juliette Lewis as a former riot grrrl, now in the suburbs. The casting makes sense, and that’s about the extent of it. (full review 10/3)

The Liberator (Alberto Alvero, 2013). Dutiful epic of the life of Simon Bolivar, suitable for classrooms as soon as they cut the nude scenes out. At least Edgar Ramirez is in there. (full review 10/3)

The Gun Runners (Don Siegel, 1958). Adaptation of Hemingway (go-round #3 for To Have and Have Not), with Audie Murphy in the Bogart role and the action updated to Cuban Revolutionary times. Nice example of a low-budget picture, robustly mounted by Siegel with a decent supporting cast and Key West locations.

Days, River, Boxtrolls (This Week’s Movies)

Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue in one of the 20,000 Days on Earth

Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue in one of the 20,000 Days on Earth

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

The Boxtrolls. “Closer to a pungent blue cheese than a pleasant gouda.”

20,000 Days on Earth. “Portrait of the self-analysis that’s probably obligatory for an artist who goes as far out there as Cave does.”

Take Me to the River. “A bit of a mess.”

I have a couple of pieces in the current issue of Film Comment. One of them is online: A career appreciation of All About Eve writer-director (and New York Film Festival tribute subject) Joseph L. Mankiewicz. Read it here. The other piece is a shorter take on composer Alexandre Desplat, but you have to buy the magazine to read that one.

At the Overlook Podcast Steve Scher and I look at what originally drew us to movies. The setting is Steve’s basement, where boxes of comic books loom as reminders of childhood passions.

The 15th Port Townsend Film Festival wrapped up Sunday. For some foolish reason the fest awarded me the “Spirit of Port Townsend” award during the closing ceremony (below with PTFF Executive Director Janette Force). Thanks to all involved.

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