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.

Movie Diary 7/1/2014

Tammy (Ben Falcone, 2014). Melissa McCarthy (who co-wrote with husband Falcone) launches her own vehicle, and it has some of the problems of such things. She has outrageous moments in it, for sure, but ultimately it goes sentimental in much the same way Identity Thief did. A very wacky supporting cast, including a few people – Toni Collette? Allison Janney? Gary Cole? – who really don’t have a lot to do. (full review 7/2)

Snow Coffee Sacrament (This Week’s Movies)

Tilda Swinton jumps the tracks: Bong Joon-ho's Snowpiercer

Tilda Swinton jumps the tracks: Bong Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer

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

Snowpiercer. “Let me state that I have no factual basis for believing that a train could stay in continuous motion across a globe-girdling circuit of track for almost two decades, nor that the people on board could sustain themselves and their brutal caste system under such circumstances. But for 124 minutes of loco-motion, I had no problem buying it at all.”

A Coffee in Berlin. “A nicely amusing through-line.”

The Sacrament. “Doesn’t have much new to add to the real-life Jonestown story.”

Steve Scher and I used to talk on the radio every week; now we podcast. Our latest installment of the Overlook responds to a Slate article scolding grown-ups for reading Young Adult books. Check in to the Overlook here.


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