Summer Voice (This Week’s Movies)

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

Voice from the Stone. “Something like 20 minutes of action is spread out across the 90-minute running time, and the thing feels sluggish even when something is going on.”

A preview of the Seventh Art Stand.

And a summer movie preview.

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Movie Diary 4/26/2017

The Lovers (Azazel Jacobs, 2017). Husband and wife, both extra-maritally straying and nearing a tipping point with all that, find themselves unexpectedly taken with each other. The actors are Tracy Letts and Debra Winger, and they are fascinating to watch. This is three features now from Jacobs – after Momma’s Man and Terri – that share a very distinctive approach, one in which the imperfections of human beings are exposed but also accepted. (full review 5/12)

Movie Diary 4/25/2017

Voice from the Stone (Eric D. Howell, 2017). The new nanny (Emilia Clarke) arrives at a Tuscan villa to care for a kid who went mute after his mother’s death. The nanny has a name, so this isn’t completely like Rebecca, but that’s your basic model. It was probably pretty effective as a novel. (full review 4/28)

Movie Diary 4/24/2017

Starless Dreams (Mehrdad Oskouei, 2016). A devastating documentary from Iran about teenage girls in a juvenile detention center. This is one of the films to be shown at the Northwest Film Forum in May as part of the nationwide “Seventh Art Stand” project to screen movies largely from countries affected by the president’s travel ban.

Odds Against Tomorrow (Robert Wise, 1959). Re-seeing this one after reading Harry Belafonte’s memoir (he produced it, and considers it one of the only movie projects he got pretty right). Good noir feel, nice work by Robert Ryan and Shelley Winters, plus Belafonte is an unusual presence. The credits are cool. Some of the very spiky dialogue is by Abraham Polonsky, not yet out from under the blacklist. Wise’s hand is heavy at times.

Free Lost Promise (This Week’s Movies)

freefire

Brie Larson, Sharlto Copley: Free Fire (courtesy Kerry Brown/A24)

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

Free Fire. “Wheatley sees the world as a cesspool where greedy humans get what they deserve and Murphy’s Law prevails. Even with a few undeniably outstanding set pieces, that shtick gets repetitious when delivered with a continual smirk.”

The Lost City of Z. “Director Gray is better known for intimate, self-serious dramas, and working on a bigger scale loosens him up. There are suspenseful scenes and pretentious touches, but the thing does cast a spell.”

The Promise. “The characters are all thinly-sketched stereotypes, but with Isaac and Bale around to provide ballast, at least there’s some decent acting going on.”

Wednesday, April 26, I’ll give a talk for the AIA Seattle’s Urban Design Forum, on the subject of “Seattle in the Movies.” The talk is free and begins at 5:30 at the Center for Architecture and Design, 1010 Western Ave.; more info here.

Movie Diary 4/19/2017

Graduation (Cristian Mungiu, 2016). Ethical dominoes begin to fall when a father pressures his daughter to ace her exams, so that she’ll get out of Romania for college and not get stuck the way he did. A typically dense Romanian film from the director of 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, with an almost instant sense of how a system works when it’s broken.

Movie Diary 4/18/2017

The Promise (Terry George, 2016). Draping a Zhivago over the Armenian genocide. The characters played by Oscar Isaac, Christian Bale, and Charlotte Le Bon would not be out of place in a 1940s picture. (full review 4/21)

Superbeast (George Schenck, 1972). About ten minutes’ worth of dialogue and action is spread throughout this 93-minute film, a flaccid Island of Dr. Moreau deal shot in the Philippines. That leaves a lot of dead air in which to insert your own material, which is recommended.