Movie Diary 8/23/2016

Don’t Breathe (Fede Alvarez, 2016). Slick and sadistic. Jumps the rails in a particularly nasty way at one point. You might think it’d be easy to escape from a house owned by a blind man, but what if I told you the blind man was Stephen Lang? Doesn’t sound so easy now, does it? (full review 8/26)

The Sea of Trees (Gus Van Sant, 2015). Critically lambasted at Cannes in 2015, this finally arrives for a regular run. (Maybe; the Seattle opening has been pushed back to an as-yet-undefined date.) The idea is more than a little woo-woo, but – to beat one of my favorite dead rugs – movies are more than ideas. The mise-en-scene bristles, the cast (Matthew McConaughey, Naomi Watts, Ken Watanabe) is homed in, and Van Sant ponders the nature of trees moving in the breeze, as D.W. Griffith famously said movies should. (full review ?/?)

Movie Diary 8/22/2016

Moby Dick (John Huston, 1956). Huston and cinematographer Oswald Morris treated the film so it would look a certain way, and that’s interesting to see, but beyond that this movie has photographic values that seem very unusual and modern for something shot in the 1950s (the leave-taking from New Bedford, especially). An interesting stab at an unfilmable novel. I saw this on morning TV at a tender age and have never been able to forget the ending from that shocked viewing.

The Mighty Quinn (Carl Schenkel, 1989). I am sincerely curious about how this director, whose career seems otherwise pretty undistinguished, came to direct this film. I hadn’t seem it since it came out, and it stands up as a very pleasant hang-out movie, with Denzel Washington and Robert Townsend at opposite ends of a mystery on a Caribbean island. Plus, Sheryl Lee Ralph sings the title song, which has new lyrics from the Dylan original.

Morris from America (Chad Hartigan, 2016). A 13-year old goes to Heidelberg with his soccer-coaching father (Craig Robinson), in a coming-of-age-by-way-of-hip-hop tale. (full review 8/26

Behold Little Men-Hur (This Week’s Movies)


Jack Huston, Morgan Freeman: Ben-Hur (Paramount Pictures)

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

Ben-Hur. “A lot of scrunching.”

Little Men. “Good at the details that speak volumes.”

Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World. “10 vignettes, all related in some way to the outer boundaries of the internet’s reach.”

Don’t forget to check out July’s “Framing Pictures” session, during which Seattle’s film critics sort through The Neon Demon and the work of the late directors Abbas Kiarostami and Michael Cimino. You can watch it online here.

Movie Diary 8/18/2016

The Intervention (Clea DuVall, 2016). A Big Chill-type thing with some old friends and family gathering for a weekend in a house in Savannah and a few overdue confrontations. The very good female cast – Cobie Smulders, Melanie Lynskey, Natasha Lyonne, and DuVall – easily outshine the men, whoever they are. (full review 8/26)

Equity (Meera Menon, 2016). An odd duck in lots of ways, about the taking-public of an IPO, which is a much more mysterious process than I ever expected, not that I ever expected anything, having never thought about this. (full review 8/26)

Movie Diary 8/17/2016

The Light Between  Oceans (Derek Cianfrance, 2016). If there are certain actors that, as the saying goes, you’d watch if they were reading the phone book, here we have Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander stuck on an isolated rock tending a lighthouse. And yes, you watch them, happily. The storyline is far-fetched and heated, the treatment is suffocating. (full review 9/2)

Movie Diary 8/16/2016)

Ben-Hur (Timur Bekmambetov, 2016). Jack Huston is nobody’s idea of Charlton Heston, but I think this might be to the film’s advantage. Otherwise: sea battle, chariot race, and a guy doing carpentry while talking about peace and love. (full review 8/19)

Movie Diary 8/15/2016

Timbuktu (Abderrahmane Sissako, 2014). Another extraordinary film by the director of Bamako and Waiting for Happiness, about an occupation by an ISIS-like religious group. Full of fierce absurdities and moments of poetry, and the principal roles are filled with non-actors who have remarkable faces. I missed this when it came out, or it probably would’ve been a Top Ten entry.

Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World (Werner Herzog, 2016).Even when Herzog throws off one of these documentaries, there are eerie moments and strange visions. This is about the internet, and it has some excellent soccer-playing robots. (full review 8/19)


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