Movie Diary 2/27/2017

The Salesman (Asghar Farhadi, 2016). The Oscar winner, and no special surprise there. It’s appropriate that there’s Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman at the center of this film; the subject of flawed masculinity is a theme shared by both, and it’s possible to admire the film and still note that Farhadi has a tendency to be just a bit Miller-like in the way he hits his notes. (full review 3/3)

The Ghost Writer (Roman Polanski, 2010). There are gratifications to be had from watching a clean, cold, impeccable movie. Like this one.

The Man Who Knew Too Much (Alfred Hitchcock, 1934). A first visit to the very handsome Criterion DVD of this classic, and it looks great. The filmmaker’s precocious gifts are amply displayed, needless to say.


Get United Out (This Week’s Movies)


Allison Williams, Daniel Kaluuya: Get Out

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

Get Out. “Peele must have studied the slow-burn horror film, and the way a director like Roman Polanski (or M. Night Shyamalan, for that matter) can unnerve you with the simplest little touches.”

A United Kingdom. “The interracial romance actually turns out to be a door into a more complex geopolitical chess match, in which the dying specter of colonialism makes its final grabs at maintaining dominance in Africa.”

Dark Night. “There’s something unpleasant — maybe more so than the filmmaker intended — about how we’re not sure which of the men might turn out to be the eventual mass murderer.”

And some Oscar predictions. Going on record here with an upset pick for Best Picture.

Speaking of the Oscars, the Framing Pictures talkers give their opinions about this year’s nominees. Check out the talk here at the Seattle Channel website.

Movie Diary 2/21/2017

A United Kingdom (Amma Asante, 2016). The mode is fairly dull BBC gloss, which is why we should give this film credit for sneakily using its interracial-romance premise as a way of easing us into the outrages of African colonial politics. (full review 2/24)

Get Out (Jordan Peele, 2017). Ingenious, scary, funny, and an inside-out observation on race. I’ll take it. (full review 2/24)

Joseph Turtle Wall (This Week’s Movies)


Victor Ezenfils, Natacha Regnier, Fabrizio Rongione: The Son of Joseph

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

The Story of Joseph. “(Green’s) work is so precise it might feel mathematical, but the effect is anything but, especially when open-faced actors like Rongione and Régnier are staring soulfully into the camera.”

The Great Wall. “In trying to please international tastes, this movie doesn’t have much personality of its own.”

The Red Turtle. “It seems almost churlish to suggest that the mysterious storyline is maybe overly woo-woo and precious.”

Fist Fight. “Just doesn’t seem particularly inspired.”

Before filling out your Oscar ballot, make sure you check out the latest Framing Pictures, in which the critics – Richard T. Jameson, Kathleen Murphy, and yours truly – sort through the nominees. Other topics include Maren Ade’s Toni Erdmann and the question of why everybody hates M. Night Shyamalan so much. Take a look here.

Movie Diary 2/16/2017

Logan (James Mangold, 2017). A Marvel movie with a clear focus and a simple emotional through-line. What gives here? It’s also R-rated, so some of the punches actually land with authority. (full review 3/3)

Movie Diary 2/15/2017

The Great Wall (Zhang Yimou, 2016). Big filmed-in-China spectacle about monsters and mercenaries. Matt Damon gives his line readings an Irish lilt that sounds exactly like Brendan Gleeson, a very distracting phenomenon. The creatures, and almost everything else, are CGI. (full review 2/17)

Movie Diary 2/14/2017

Marlowe (Paul Bogart, 1969). James Garner as Philip Marlowe, in a 60s thing with weed and hippies and Bruce Lee. Passable as a time capsule although it doesn’t have a lot of zing. A bunch of useful actors in support: Rita Moreno, Carroll O’Connor, Kenneth Tobey, Jackie Coogan. Pretty blah compared to Gunn.