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.

IMG_0408

Movie Diary 9/25/2014

The Cat Burglar (William Witney, 1961). The burglar (Jack Hogan) inadvertently ends up with secret atomic papers much coveted by Commies, who are large men in dark suits. A blonde (June Kenney – you will recall her from Attack of the Puppet People), made up to look a lot like Janet Leigh in Psycho, is also in the mix. Witney gets some good-looking  set-ups, although the acting is pretty awful. Jazz score by Buddy Bregman. The plain quality of the motel rooms and parking lots makes you think the plot is about to bump into the filming of a Herschell Gordon Lewis picture.

Movie Diary 9/23/2014

20,000 Days on Earth (Ian Forsyth, Jane Pollard, 2014). A documentary portrait of Nick Cave, who comes across just about the way you imagined he would. With the concert clips (not the main meat of the movie), you get a sense of how his navel-gazing is required to get to the ceremony of performance. (full review 9/26)

Take Me to the River (Martin Shore, 2014). Another music doc, this one closer in form to the run we’ve seen the last decade. And it’s not as tight as Standing in the Shadows of Motown etc., but even with considerable scrappiness this catches some strong music-pleasure. The focus is Stax, the fabled Memphis studio. (full review 9/26)

Movie Diary 9/22/2014

Lone Star (John Sayles, 1996). This movie holds up real good. Nice choice for the Port Townsend Film Festival tribute to Sayles.

Tracks (John Curran, 2013). I happen to be a sucker for the traveler-crossing-vast-distance subgenre, but even with my predilection in play, this is a pretty compelling movie. Mia Wasikowska is aces once again. (review 10/3?)

A Walk Among the Tombstones (Scott Frank, 2014). Liam Neeson in an adaptation of a Lawrence Block novel. A solid go, but the film’s relatively tame box-office opening suggests audience uncertainty with the private-eye picture. Is that actually even a movie draw anymore?

The Invisible Collection (Bernard Attal, 2013). The jury winner for best narrative at the Port Townsend fest is a thoughtful take on a Stefan Zweig story – set here in Brazil cocoa county. The set-up is strong and the locations lived-in.

Finding Hillywood (Leah Warshawski, Chris Towey, 2013). The Rwandan film industry, colorfully chronicled. A marvelous idea for a movie, and we meet a clutch of distinctive characters, all of whom we root hard for.

Grace (Heath Jones, 2014). Teenage-alcoholic picture, with offbeat Florida backdrops, given guts by Annika Marks’s central performance.

 

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