Movie Diary 5/31/2017

Wonder Woman (Patty Jenkins, 2017). A good thing for the DC comics universe. Using the first Christopher Reeve Superman movie as a model for the character is not a lousy idea at all. (full review 6/2)

A Ghost Story (David Lowery, 2017). There’s a lot to be said for the effectiveness of someone standing around in a white sheet while occupying a corner of a room. This movie might have a touching idea at the center of it, too. But I haven’t believed in one of Lowery’s movies yet. (screens at SIFF)

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Movie Diary 5/30/2017

Searchers (Zacharias Kunuk, 2016). The director of the great Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner) returns to the ice, with a story that recalls The Searchers – not as a repudiation, but as a variation. The film is both brutal and sweeping, and never less than intriguing as a view from inside an indigenous culture. (screens at SIFF)

Finding Kukan (Robin Lung, 2016). A right-on piece of film history, in which the filmmaker tracks down the facts behind the makers of a 1941 documentary called Kukan: The Battle Cry of China (it won a special Oscar that year). That film does not survive in complete form, though the surviving footage looks remarkable. This project uncovers the story of Li Ling-Ai, a saucy mid-century personality who was the de facto (if uncredited) producer of Kukan. (screens at SIFF)

Crazy Mama (Jonathan Demme, 1975). A cheaply-made exploitation picture for Roger Corman’s company, and yet Demme’s eye for American life and people is a lot like it would be in his greatest movies to come. This is a thoroughly and energetically loopy movie.

Baywatch Tales (This Week’s Movies)

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Johnny Depp, Kaya Scodelario: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (courtesy Peter Mountain/Disney)

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

Baywatch. “The raunchiness includes male nudity involving a corpse, which is really a phrase that sums up a certain kind of Hollywood comedy in recent years.”

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. “The plot is a tired rehash. Still, there’s something to be said for big, buoyant spectacle in a summer movie. (I mentioned the ghost sharks, right?)”

Movie Diary 5/24/2017

Beatriz at Dinner (Miguel Arteta, 2017). The early festival reports on this seemed be generally blah, as though Arteta and screenwriter Mike White had let us down by not providing more audience gratification in this portrait of a humble masseuse (Salma Hayek) meeting a Trumpian exploiter (John Lithgow). But instead it’s a movie of real mystery, which is a trade I will take. (screens at SIFF)

Something Wild (Jonathan Demme, 1986). The shifts in tone in this road movie seem less shifty now and more woven into what is always an unstable plot. Lots of good stuff, and pure Demme, in the stray bits of Americana that go flicking past as the story hurtles along.

Movie Diary 5/23/2017

Baywatch (Seth Gordon, 2017). A movie relentlessly makes fun of the TV series it is based on; the expected rancid humor results. Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, and assorted beach bodies are the human-like figures that star. (full review 5/26)

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (Joachim Ronning, Espen Sandberg, 2017). The fifth movie in a franchise. Some of the spectacle is actual spectacle, so we can certainly say that. (full review 5/26)

The Trip to Spain (Michael Winterbottom, 2017). Third movie with Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon traveling, eating, and goofing. A little less interestingly morbid than the previous chapter, but probably funnier. (Some extended riffing on Roger Moore now stands as a fitting RIP.) (screens at SIFF)

The Alien Lovers (This Week’s Movies)

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Bad Black, a film in this year’s SIFF (courtesy Wakaliwood)

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

Alien: Covenant. “Covenant is the first one that truly feels like an attempt to dumb it down to formula.”

The Lovers. “It’s grown-up and surprising, and there’s pleasure to be had in watching two accomplished performers play against each other.”

And a preview of the Seattle International Film Festival.

Movie Diary 5/17/2017

Bad Black (Nabwana I.G.G, 2016). An inordinate amount of movie-watching exhilaration is contained in this Ugandan film’s 68 minutes. It is nonsensical, crude, and tongue-in-cheek. I was grateful. (screens at SIFF)

The Net (Kim Ki-duk, 2016). This director has made like a dozen movies since 3-Iron in 2004, which means there are too few hours in the day to keep up with everything. This one, about a North Korean fisherman who accidentally steers into South Korean territory, is a barbed look at how both countries mishandle the stalemate. (screens at SIFF)

The Fixer (Adrian Sitaru, 2016). A strong, thoughtful piece from Romania about a news crew’s efforts to interview a girl who has been recently rescued from having been kidnapped into prostitution. Some points are made perhaps too easily, but they’re good points. (screens at SIFF)