Alita Arctic Romantic (This Week’s Movies)


Mads Mikkelsen, Arctic (Bleecker Street)

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

Alita: Battle Angel. “A little too glib to be truly memorable and a little too top-heavy to be really fun.”

Isn’t It Romantic. “It scores with Pitch Perfect comedian Wilson’s shade-throwing persona, but generates a sour aftertaste in how often it pats itself on the back for being clever.”

Arctic. “The simplicity of writer/director Joe Penna’s approach and the magnificence of Mads Mikkelsen’s acting is more than enough to make this survival tale a gripping experience.”

Scarecrow Academy reconvenes Saturday Feb. 16 at 1 p.m. (a session postponed by last weekend’s snow) with Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest. My favorite movie, as it happens. This is part of an ongoing series exploring the proposition that 1959 is the greatest movie year; more info here.

For the Scarecrow Video blog’s Seasoned Ticket entry this week, I look at a review of an underappreciated film, Lone Scherfig’s Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself (2002), which affords a chance to nod in the direction of the great Mads Mikkelsen. (not yet posted)


Movie Diary 2/13/2019

The Old Fashioned Way (William Beaudine, 1934) and Never Give a Sucker and Even Break (1944). Two with W.C. Fields. One goes for the isolated bits.

A Summer Place (Delmer Daves, 1959). Hadn’t seen it in a long time. Some very good adult 1950s subjects being bandied about, and Daves directs the hell out of a few scenes, but the movie loses its groove when it definitively tilts toward teen lovers Sandra Dee and Troy Donahue (who, in case you did not recall this, is a stiff). Of the adults, Dorothy McGuire is intriguingly sensitive, Richard Egan is single-note all the way, and Arthur Kennedy more than pulls his weight. And hey, didja know Max Steiner did the music? The movie won’t let you forget it.

Movie Diary 2/11/2019

Arctic (Joe Penna, 2018). Man against the elements: Mads Mikkelsen is the man, the frozen north provides the elements. Very neatly turned, and Mikkelsen is superb. Remember Chekhov’s dictum: If you introduce a polar bear in the first act, be assured it will go off by the end. (full review 2/15)

Isn’t It Romantic (Todd Strauss-Schulson, 2019). Rebel Wilson in an anti-romcom that goes very meta on the subject. You can forget about any chance they’d include the Rodgers & Hart song. It has a few moments. (full review 2/15)

Want Second Part (This Week’s Movies)


Jason Jones, Taraji P. Henson: What Men Want (Paramount Pictures)

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

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part. “If the sequel doesn’t have the nonstop zing of the first movie, it’s still the kind of thing that makes you grin from beginning to end.” (Herald link here.)

What Men Want. “This kind of comedy should look effortless, but everybody here is working very, very hard.”

Capernaum. “Zain Al Rafeea gives one of those indelible child performances, showing the tough street-kid exterior while allowing the frightened vulnerability to show through.”

Hey, Seattle is allegedly about to be hit by a hefty snowstorm, so we are POSTPONING the Scarecrow Academy scheduled for Feb. 9. Instead, we will flip the session to Saturday, Feb. 16 at 1 p.m. The movie in question is a little number called North by Northwest.

My Seasoned Ticket piece at the Scarecrow blog this week re-visits Steven Soderbergh’s sex, lies, and videotape, and the time Soderbergh came for a SIFF visit.

Movie Diary 2/6/2019

What Men Want (Adam Shankman, 2019). The reversal of the Mel Gibson picture, with Taraji P. Henson as a hard-charging sports agent who can read men’s minds. The whole movie just … works … so … hard, and every effort is visible. Unexpected bonus: Brian Bosworth, a witty piece of casting and an amusing presence (as Henson’s jocky boss).

Movie Diary 2/5/2019

Capernaum (Nadine Labaki, 2018). A neorealist approach to a heartrending kids-in-the-streets scenario, the streets here belonging to Beirut. What really makes it go are the actors, including a young lead (Zain Al Rafeea) who might put you in mind of the kid from Pixote. Also there’s a baby who gives an amazing sustained performance – how, I don’t know.

Movie Diary 2/4/2019

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (Mike Mitchell, 2019). More of the same, and in this case that’s fine. Hilarious end-credits song. Great evil-queen-anthem showstopper by Tiffany Haddish. (full review 2/8)

The Tall T (Budd Boetticher, 1957) and Comanche Station (Budd Boetticher, 1960). I will be talking about Ride Lonesome in my 1959 series at Scarecrow Video, which gave me an excuse to re-visit these. The films are elegant, composed, and modern.

Alita: Battle Angel (Robert Rodriguez, 2019). Mahershala Ali and Jennifer Connelly walk around like somebody told them to take it all very seriously – surely an error in this kind of thing. (full review 2/15)