Movie Diary 8/7/2014

The Dog (Allison Berg and Frank Keraudren, 2013). You will need a shower after bearing witness to the true story behind the guy Dog Day Afternoon was based on. This is another in the subgenre of wacky black-comic documentaries about criminals, a form that generates queasy feelings aplenty – but a wild story, to be sure. (full review 8/15)

Movie Diary 8/5/2014

The Kill Team (Dan Krauss, 2014). Documentary account of U.S. soldiers from Ft. Lewis who killed Afghan people, with the focus on one terribly conflicted infantryman. Some of the images are disturbing, but the story itself would be unbelievably sad and depressing if the screen were black. (full review 8/15)

Movie Diary 8/4/2014

What If (Michael Dowse, 2014). Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan are niftily matched in a Toronto love story. Lots of funny dialogue and peppy performances; the script is by Elan Mastai, who wrote The Samaritan, an interesting slow-burner from a couple years back. (full review 8/8)

Into the Storm (Steven Quayle, 2014). This movie’s got CGI up the waterspout, as tornado-trackers assemble for the mother of all twisters. If digital effects are going to exist, they might as well create stuff like this. (full review 8/8)

Guardians Up (This Week’s Movies)

Chris Pratt, Guardians of the Galaxy

Chris Pratt, Guardians of the Galaxy

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

Guardians of the Galaxy. “A momentum machine, the kind of movie in which one scene keeps tipping giddily over into the next.” (If the Herald paywall is a problem, here’s the Seattle Weekly link.)

Get on Up. “Bosemen doesn’t especially resemble James Brown, but he’s electric at channeling Brown’s crazy energy and strange self-possession.”

Mood Indigo. “A vast miscalculation here about how this amount of whimsy wears over time.” (Seattle Weekly link.)

The Overlook Podcast has another new one this week: Steve Scher and I recall the careers of James Garner and Paul Mazursky, members of a sardonic breed of Hollywood cat. Listen here.

Early warning: Thursday August 14, join us for a “Summer at SAM” event at the Olympic Sculpture Park. The “Art Hit Tour” at 6:30 will be led by me and my wife as we cover two aspects of the park: its cinematic possibilities and ecological awareness. The event is free and there’s lots of other stuff going on to sample. Read more about that night and the other “Summer at SAM” events here.

Early warning II: On successive Thursday nights, September 4 & 11, I’ll be leading a workshop at the Northwest Film Forum called “Cinematic Space and Sound.” The first will concentrate on the evocative use of screen space, the second on masters of sound. More information here.


Movie Diary 7/31/2014

Double Play: James Benning and Richard Linklater (Gabe Klinger, 2013). An appropriately non-forceful look at two filmmakers, evidently on the occasion of Benning’s return to Texas for a tribute. (We learn that Benning had been the first visiting director at the Austin Film Society, in the years before Linklater made Slacker.) In its own quiet way the documentary hints at some big questions about what movies are for and how people should make them. (full review 8/8)

The Barefoot Contessa (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1954). Also a movie that questions what movies are for, in its own manner. A strange, oddly suspended film in which the caustic showbiz satire of All About Eve (transferred here to the movie business) gets warped by the dreamy European locations and the fairy-tale allusions.

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.


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