Movie Diary 9/27/2016

A Man Called Ove (Hannes Holm, 2015). A lot of people will like this Swedish comedy, and there are some decent reasons for that. Quite a bit of geezer humor, but a sufficiently dry central performance helps win the day. (full review 9/30)

The Birth of a Nation (Nate Parker, 2016). The movie diary of Nat Turner, with the rabble-rousing movie itself now over-clouded by the past of its director. A blunt object, though with its share of haunting and haunted faces – certainly including Parker’s own. (full review 10/7)

Movie Diary 9/26/2016

The Dressmaker (Jocelyn Moorhouse, 2015). The trailer for this movie is so cutesy it turned me off from seeing the film at SIFF this year. Turns out the thing is a lot more interesting than that. Moorhouse mixes moods with real daring, and some of the jokes draw blood. There’s much that is silly, too, in the Australian manner, but it makes for an interesting patchwork. (full review 9/30)

Avalanche Zoom Seven (This Week’s Movies)

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The cast of The Magnificent Seven (courtesy MGM)

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

The Magnificent Seven. “Those bread-and-butter scenes feel fumbled or half-hearted.”

Operation Avalanche. “A cracking example of a low-budget concept done right.”

Queen of Katwe. “The material might have become fodder for a standard piece of uplift, but Queen of Katwe is better than that.”

Zoom. “The concept is intriguing, but the stories are not hugely engaging on their own.”

The annual Local Sightings Film Festival launches at the Northwest Film Forum. Here’s my overview of the event, plus five capsules of previewed films.

I’m at the Port Townsend Film Festival this weekend; I’ll be popping up at some of these events, but check out the whole schedule for a full range of moviegoing delights.

Movie Diary 9/20/2016

Zoom (Pedro Morelli, 2016). Three stories, each a fiction created by a character in one of the other tales, follow parallel lines until eventually they don’t. I guess this is trying to be Borges-lite, and there are some good moments and capable performers (among them Alison Pill, Gael Garcia Bernal – in animated form only – and Mariana Ximenes). (full review 9/23)

Movie Diary 9/19/2016

Dead Reckoning (John Cromwell, 1947). I hadn’t seen this one in years, but it held up as I remembered it: fast-talking, shadowy, somewhat crazy. It has Bogart in full career gallop and Lizabeth Scott doing her particular thing. Given the quotable dialogue and Bogart’s attitude, this movie had to have been a big influence on Woody Allen when it came time to write Play It Again, Sam.

Operation Avalanche (Matt Johnson, 2016). Pretty effective lo-fi approach to Capricorn One subject matter. The faux documentary approach is deployed on a tale of ambitious CIA filmmakers who offer to produce the footage for the faked moon landing. Contains a Zelig-like appearance by Stanley Kubrick. (full review 9/23)

Blair Disorder Week (This Week’s Movies)

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Matthias Schoenaerts: Disorder

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

Snowden. “Does push all the paranoid buttons.”

Blair Witch. “The style is monotonous, the plot ends up in a very familiar place, and once again the film denies explanations for what is going on.”

Disorder. “Fascinatingly thorny in its depiction of a damaged protagonist.”

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years. “It doesn’t seem to know what to include or what to leave out, so it settles for a random sampling.”

Next weekend I’ll be out and around at the 2016 Port Townsend Film Festival, a wonderful three-day movie bash in a very special place. Check the schedule here and consider coming up for a day or a lifetime.

Movie Diary 9/15/2016

The Magnificent Seven (Antoine Fuqua, 2016). Some enjoyable bits, and good landscapes (a Western shot in Louisiana), but there’s no equivalent of James Coburn, you know what I mean? At least the Western seems to be getting normalized for the 2016 audience, not that it’s ever going to come back. (full review 9/23)

American Honey (Andrea Arnold, 2016). A picaresque pastoral, with a vaguely unreal, Oliver Twist-like premise played against very real squalor. Will have to live with this one for a while. I’m sure about this, though: Critics have already quibbled that it’s too long, at 163 minutes, to be focused, and that some tightening up would help. This is wrong. (full review ?/?)