Movie Diary 1/31/2017

I Am Not Your Negro (Raoul Peck, 2016). A scintillating documentary built around some of James Baldwin’s unpublished writing, blended with some of the author’s eloquent appearances on TV talk shows back in the days when talk shows had people like James Baldwin as guests. (full review 2/3)

Midsummer in Newtown (Lloyd Kramer, 2016). A Shakespeare production with schoolkids from Sandy Hook Elementary. Obviously, the throat clutches. Sort of wondering why there are so many mentions of God and no talk of guns. (full review 2/3)

Government Dogs (This Week’s Links)


Emma Suarez: Julieta (Manolo Pavon, Sony Pictures Classics)

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

Julieta. “Each shot is a formal arrangement of color and composition—actually, each shot is practically a floral arrangement, given how pretty it all looks.”

Gold. “McConaughey is unleashed, and the result ain’t pretty.”

A Dog’s Purpose. “Through every step of philosophical flapdoodle peddled in A Dog’s Purpose, Hallstrom manages to maintain some level of dignity.”

All Governments Lie: Truth, Deception, and the Spirit of I.F. Stone. “Filmmakers can’t possibly predict what the world will look like when their movie actually gets released. Sometimes you get lucky.”

Early notice: Sunday February 12 I’ll give a talk for Historic Seattle entitled “Shot on Location: Architectural Landmarks on Film,” at 2 p.m. Check the details here, or at the Northwest Film Forum’s calendar.

Movie Diary 1/24/2017

A Dog’s Purpose (Lasse Hallstrom, 2017). A movie narrated by a dog, who gets reincarnated through different lives. If this hadn’t been directed by someone who knows how to direct movies, I’m not sure I would’ve made it through. (full review 1/27)

D.O.A. (Rudolph Mate, 1950). It must have been longer than I thought since I last watched this one, because a lot of it seemed fresh. Edmond O’Brien’s protagonist must have a bunch of stuff going on, given his restless behavior in the early going, but it’s intriguing that we never find out about any of that because he’s got his hands full with the whole “I’ve been murdered by slow-acting poison” thing.

Movie Diary 1/23/2017

The Great Race (Blake Edwards, 1965). I saw this as a child when it was released, and maybe for that reason this slapstick picture seems like a true epic. “Leslie escaped with a chicken?” remains my seven-year-old self’s favorite punch line. And boy, Henry Mancini really worked overtime here.

All Governments Lie (Fred Peabody, 2016). Documentary that tries to tie the spirit of the legendary newsman I.F. Stone to the state of the world today. A rather broad subject, yet the various interview subjects make a lively group of talkers. And yes, the thing couldn’t be better timed. (full review 1/27)

Century Split (This Week’s Movies)


Billy Crudup, Elle Fanning, Annette Bening, Greta Gerwig, Lucas Jade Zumann: 20th Century Women (courtesy Annapurna Pictures)

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

20th Century Women. “Too often the dialogue states exactly what it means, as though the characters had been reading self-help books. (I know, I know, it was the 70s.)”

Split. “He might still have a knack for thrillers, even when he doesn’t have a twist up his sleeve.”

The Founder. “A honey of a role for Michael Keaton.”

Early warning: Sunday, March 12th, I’ll be giving a lecture for Historic Seattle called “Shot on Location: Architectural Landmarks on Film.” It’s an afternoon talk at the Northwest Film Forum. More details here.

Movie Diary 1/18/2017

Julieta (Pedro Almodovar, 2016). A melodrama in the Almodovar mode, but a discreet one, which is is interesting. It certainly is good to look at, given the filmmaker’s sure-handedness with color and camera. (full review 1/27)

Gold (Stephen Gaghan, 2016). Very loosely based on a true mining story, this project gives Matthew McConaughey a fat role as a sweaty speculator who finds gold in the Indonesia jungle, with help from a fellow prospector (Edgar Ramirez). A big swing, this one. (full review 1/27)

Movie Diary 1/17/2017

Silence (Martin Scorsese, 2016). A thoughtful and ambitious movie, with a handful of terrific scenes and a lack of overall tautness. It’s not exactly right that the film is about religion – more belief, which is not quite the same thing. A fascinating final ten minutes or so. In a fair world, Issei Ogata would snag a Supporting Actor nomination for his inquisitor role; he’s the Christoph Waltz of the movie.

Split (M. Night Shyamalan, 2016). James McAvoy gets to take it out and chop it up, playing a multiple-personality kidnapper. Ol’ M. Night’s still got a few moves in his arsenal. (full review 1/20)

Movie Diary 1/16/2017

King Kong (Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack, 1933). The movie really hasn’t lost anything over the years, I am glad to report. However stiff the exposition scenes can be, once we get to Kong’s domain, it really takes off.

The House on Haunted Hill (William Castle, 1959). It must be said, this is not one of Castle’s more inspired efforts. The voices-in-the-dark bit at the beginning is pretty good, however, and so is Vincent Price. But oy – that skeleton.

Live by Paterson (This Week’s Movies)


Adam Driver, Paterson ((Mary Cybulsky/Amazon Studios & Bleecker Street)

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

Paterson. “One of the most pleasurable movies in recent memory.”

Patriots Day. “This is about how things happened, not why things happened.”

Live by Night.”The rushed pace is bad enough, but the characters are ciphers, too.”

Tonight, Jan. 13, the talkers in Framing Pictures re-convene for a conversation at Scarecrow Video. This time it’s the best movies of 2016, so don’t miss it – 7 p.m., and it’s free. Check the FP Facebook page for updates.

Movie Diary 1/10/17

Patriots Day (Peter Berg, 2016). Mark Wahlberg stars in this account of the Boston Marathon bombing, which makes it the second 2016 Berg-Wahlberg collaboration on a true-life disaster. This one is less a spectacle than Deepwater Horizon and more of a procedural. It goes on quite a while. (full review 1/13)