Lady Blonde (This Week’s Movies)


Charlize Theron: Atomic Blonde (courtesy Jonathan Prime/Focus Features)

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

Atomic Blonde. “The idea of staging most of the action to a jukebox of ’80s hits might be slightly more effective if the film featured just one song that hasn’t already been used to death in movies.”

Lady Macbeth. “If it sounds a little like a film noir transplanted to an English country house — Double Indemnity with whalebone corsets — that’s not far off.”

Landline. “I laughed during Landline, and I still think Jenny Slate is a deft, new kind of comic actress. But the journey from the spikiness of Obvious Child to the softness of Landline is a disappointing arc.”

The latest session of Framing Pictures is online and watchable. The panel features Richard T. Jameson, Kathleen Murphy, Bruce Reid, and me; the topics include Ana Lily Amirpour’s The Bad Batch, Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled, and Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver. We also spare some breath for Alfred Hitchcock and the nature of watching/talking about movies. Check it here.


Movie Diary 7/26/2017

Detroit (Kathryn Bigelow, 2017). Some people know how to direct movies; Kathryn Bigelow is one of those people. The title is too broad, actually, as the movie is about a specific incident during the violence in Detroit in July 1967, not really a big-canvas look at that moment (although the first 20 minutes or so appear to be setting up that kind of wide-ranging survey). Anyway, rest assured that your nerves will probably return to normal 10 or 12 hours after you see the picture. (full review 8/4)

Movie Diary 7/25/2017

Lady Macbeth (William Oldroyd, 2017). The bored new bride at a 19th-century English manor finds the filthy stablehand much to her liking. Death awaits. This compelling melodrama has some of the appeal of a silent film, and Florence Pugh is excellent, if maybe a little questionably modern, as the bride. (full review 7/28)

Atomic Blonde (David Leitch, 2017). Charlize Theron grinds her heels into a series of Cold War spies in this Berlin-set piece. The actual subject of the film is fight choreography, and the movie explores that subject quite well. Theron moves splendidly everywhere but on her face, while the rest of the casting is much, much too obvious. (full review 7/28)

Movie Diary 7/25/2017

Adventure in Manhattan (Edward Ludwig, 1936). This goddamn bizarre movie is about a cocky crime reporter (Joel McCrea) who makes a bunch of predictions about upcoming criminal acts. How? I do not know. Jean Arthur butts heads with him, Reginald Owen is an elegant producer, Thomas Mitchell a blustery newspaper editor. There’s one gag about a dead child in a small coffin. The wisecracking lead role isn’t quite a good fit for the great McCrea, and everybody plays it like they’re trying to sell us on how screwball it all is. Jean Arthur can do no wrong, obviously. There’s also a scene where three people sit around and eat baked beans.

More Than a Secretary (Alfred E. Green, 1936). Another weirdie. Jean Arthur runs a secretarial school but takes a job temping for George Brent, who runs a physical-fitness magazine, because it’s one way to get a shot at marriage. Lionel Stander is Brent’s assistant, Dorothea Kent is a competing secretary with limited office skills but plenty of moxie, Ruth Donnelly is Arthur’s colleague. Green keeps it moving along, which makes it a good deal pleasanter than Adventure in Manhattan.

Dunkirk Valerian (This Week’s Movies)


James D’Arcy, Kenneth Branagh: Dunkirk (courtesy Warner Bros.)

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

Dunkirk. “When the storylines do finally coincide, it’s a thrill — although it’s possible you’re more impressed with the filmmaker’s bravado than with anything the characters are doing on screen.” (Herald link here.)

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. “The biggest problem, beyond the nonsensical storyline, is Besson’s ear for English dialogue. The movie collapses in a heap whenever DeHaan and Delevingne engage in their allegedly flirtatious banter.”

Movie Diary 7/18/2017

Dunkirk (Christopher Nolan, 2017). Nolan and World War II: a director still playing tricks with time-bending storytelling. The bottom line: cross-cutting still works. (full review 7/19/2017)

The Bad Batch (Ana Lily Amirpour, 2017). Confident brazenness from the director of A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, including the willingness to shock the more delicate arthouse fans of her first film. A desert setting, a dismembered heroine, and Leone-like slooowwwness make for a genuinely unusual film.

Upon Apes and Hermia (This Week’s Movies)


War for the Planet of the Apes (courtesy Twentieth Century Fox)

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

War for the Planet of the Apes. “This is a combat-mission film and a jailbreak movie, and if you can take the sight of digitally rendered chimpanzees and orangutans enacting Braveheart-style heroics, it succeeds on both counts.”

Wish Upon. “The usual idiotic decision-making is on display.”

Hermia & Helena. “Things are never quite what they seem in this film’s mischievous scheme, and although this idea feels breezy as it’s playing out, there’s something essential and very human about that observation.”

Framing Pictures convenes this evening at Scarecrow Video, at 7 pm. Please join us for more essential movie talk. From the FP Facebook page: “Framing Pictures experiences a new burst of freedom July 14. What is that all about? Perhaps getting to be deliriously happy at the prospect of talking about the Master, Alfred Hitchcock, whose first certifiably Hitchcockian film The Lodger has just received the deluxe Criterion treatment, and whose incomparable legacy is being celebrated at length on Turner Classic Movies this month. We’ll also sample the current film scene–perhaps Sofia Coppola’s Cannes prizewinning redo of The Beguiled, or Baby Driver, and by all means the sophomore effort from A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night writer-director Ana Lily Amirpour, The Bad Batch. Showtime is 7 p.m. Friday, Bastille Day, in the Scarecrow Video Screening Room, 5030 Roosevelt Way N.E. Cost of admission: nary a sou.”