Rocket Zilla Souvenir (This Week’s Movies)


Taron Egerton: Rocketman (Paramount Pictures)

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

Godzilla. “The overall lack of any compelling storyline — or any reason to care about the people onscreen — made me start to squirm around the halfway point of this 131-minute movie.”

Rocketman. “Whatever this movie’s blunders, it succeeds because of two big selling points: the songs are just as catchy as they were in 1973, and Elton John is splendidly incarnated by Taron Egerton.”

The Souvenir. “The film feels like a memory exercise, where forgotten moments are left out, and the things that stick in the mind are left over.”

For the Scarecrow Video blog, I contribute a Seasoned Ticket column that considers English auteurs: Souvenir director Joanna Hogg’s film Exhibition and Elton John’s opus Gnomeo and Juliet. Read it here.


Movie Diary 5/29/2019

Rocketman (Dexter Fletcher, 2019). The Elton John biopic is as frequently silly as you’d expect, and the idea of arranging it as a therapy movie (told from the perspective of an AA meeting) is very, very familiar. But the songs remain their old catchy selves, and Taron Egerton is completely into the role – nobody warned him to play it cool, the way young actors generally play it. (full review 5/30)

Movie Diary 5/28/2019

Godzilla: King of the Monsters (Michael Dougherty, 2019). The monsters make interesting sounds in this throwdown – more so than the humans, anyway, who slog through some painfully routine dialogue. A handful of delirious shots of monsters glowing with radioactivity notwithstanding, there isn’t much to grab by the neck here. (full review 5/30)

Touch Me Not (Adina Pintilie, 2018). A Romanian director (working in English) finds a remarkable language of physical intimacy with this frequently uncomfortable but almost certainly unforgettable exercise. Ostensibly about a woman (Lucy Benson) who struggles with being touched, the film also introduces us to a group of remarkable non-actors who are allowed to be themselves in variously funny and moving ways. (screened at the Seattle International Film Festival)

Don Booksmart (This Week’s Movies)


Kaitlyn Dever, Beanie Feldstein: Booksmart (Annapurna Pictures)

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

Booksmart. “Wilde keeps the film on track but shrewdly makes room for these weird little syncopated diversions.”

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. “For at least the first hour it’s wild fun, fueled by Gilliam’s exuberance and a terrifically funny performance by Adam Driver.”

For Scarecrow Video’s blog, I contribute a piece on Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, and recall the time I interviewed the Python. Read it here.

Movie Diary 5/22/2019

The Souvenir (Joanna Hogg, 2019). An elliptically-told account of a mostly ill-advised romance between a young film student (Honor Swinton Byrne, Tilda Swinton’s daughter) and an older, not-very-responsible man (Tom Burke) in the 80s. The film’s soft visual texture and lack of cell phones is strangely comforting, no matter the sometimes harsh events of the story. (full review 5/31)

Movie Diary 5/21/2019

Booksmart (Olivia Wilde, 2019). Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever lead a bright cast in a movie that, whether you know it or not, is what you need right now. Seriously, this is a fun thing, bound to be quoted for years to come. (full review 5/23)

Movie Diary 5/20/2019

Late Night (Nisha Ganatra, 2019). Emma Thompson as a veteran talk-show host being forced out of her job, Mindy Kaling as the new writer bringing the show into the present day. A good ration of pleasant TV-style banter here, delivered with crack timing. Somewhere along the line somebody decided the third act needed higher stakes, or some bullshit like that, which is too bad. (full review 6/7)

Remember the Night (Mitchell Leisen, 1940). A long-overdue re-visit to an unusual film. The set-up comes from screenwriter Preston Sturges: Prosecutor Fred MacMurray takes accused (and guilty) shoplifter Barbara Stanwyck to his small-town home for the Christmas holiday. The elegant gentleness of Leisen’s directing makes an interesting match with Sturges’ livelier ideas, and Stanwyck makes you believe the unlikely situation.