Golden Status Request (This Week’s Movies)


Channing Tatum, Halle Berry; Kingsman: The Golden Circle (courtesy Twentieth Century Fox)

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

Brad’s Status. “This is a signature role for an actor we tend to take for granted.”

Kingsman: The Golden Circle. “I was finally won over by this movie’s endless parade of zany ideas and ridiculous gadgets.”

Friend Request. “If the story is standard teen-horror material, Verhoeven plays honestly by it, laying out the scares in crisp fashion and building a few genuinely WTF moments, if not much LOL.”


Movie Diary 9/21/2017

Brad’s Status (Mike White, 2017). A signature role for Ben Stiller – and that’s saying more than you might think, given that Stiller has perfected an American male of his era in the same way Jack Lemmon did in the early 1960s. The film itself is more in the vein of U.S. literature of the Cheever-Updike-Roth variety than with today’s societal concerns, so it will be dismissed accordingly. (full review 9/22)

Kingsman: The Golden Circle (Matthew Vaughn, 2017). The glibness of the violence is indefensible, so I won’t try to do that, but if you are susceptible to sheer absurd cleverness detonating at least once every three minutes, this movie has a surfeit of silliness. (full review 9/22)

Movie Diary 9/19/2017

La Silence de la Mer (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1949). Melville’s haunting first film, a fascinating piece about a Nazi soldier (Howard Vernon) billeted with an elderly Frenchman and his niece during the occupation; the film consists mostly of the officer’s monologues, and traces his slow disillusionment with his country’s cause. The mute resistance of the French characters is not the only note Melville plays on the subject, and the minimalist style is spellbinding. It played at the Edinburgh Filmhouse as part of a Melville centenary celebration (they do things like that here) and was preceded by a 1946 short film, A Day in the Life of a Clown, which is a rather amazing piece (the title is literal).

Movie Diary 9/18/2017

mother! (Darren Aronofsky, 2017). People who love it love the way it’s “open to interpretation” and about many things, but I dunno – it sort of seems to be about just exactly what it’s about. Not a lot of true mystery here. I certainly had fun with it, to a certain point, but a few basic things nag at me – for instance, how I have no idea what the layout of the house (the interior of which holds 99 percent of the film’s action) actually is, or why a great actor like Javier Bardem gives a performance so uncertain and thin.

Rye mother (This Week’s Movies)


Kevin Spacey, Nicholas Hoult: Rebel in the Rye (courtesy IFC Films)

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

mother! “At one point the house becomes a kind of theater for all the chaos of modern life: terrorism, protests, religious fanaticism, militarization run amok. Did we mention this movie is pretentious?”

Rebel in the Rye. “A well-meaning but ham-handed attempt to get at Salinger’s mystery.”

For Film Comment’s “TCM Diary,” I contributed an appreciation of King Vidor’s Ruby Gentry, a film that stirs some swampy cinephilia. Read that here.


Movie Diary 9/14/2017

God’s Own Country (Francis Lee, 2017). It used to be that a movie like this would come on as an earthy tale of farming life and its ebbing viability in the current world, but what it was really about was gay love. This film comes on as a gay love story, but what it’s really about is farming life and its ebbing viability in the current world. And that makes for a pretty strong kitchen-sink drama out of Yorkshire. Josh O’Connor is the blackout-drinking scion of a small, declining family farm (Ian Hart is the disabled dad, Gemma Jones the weary grandma); Alec Secareanu, an Oscar Isaac type, plays the Romanian migrant worker who takes a temporary job on the place. Lots of live sheep births and such to lend authenticity.

Movie Diary 9/11/2017

Rebel in the Rye (Danny Strong, 2017). A J.D. Salinger biopic, with Nicholas Hoult as the writer – or as we are contractually obligated to say, “famously reclusive writer.” The actor definitely tries to get something going against uphill circumstances, some of which are built into the subject. Kevin Spacey’s in it, and Zoey Deutsch plays Oona O’Neill, a onetime Salinger crush – if you know her future husband you know that will not end well. (full review 9/13)