Go Runs Nightingale (This Week’s Movies)


Baykali Ganambarr, Aisling Franciosi: The Nightingale (Matt Netheim/IFC Films)

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

The Nightingale. “The testy relationship between Clare and Billy, not vengeance, is at the core of the film. There’s nothing conventional about this ad hoc partnership between people traumatized in different ways.”

Brittany Runs a Marathon. “Bell proves equal to the task of carrying a movie. She’s adept at the sort of glazed super-irony that fuels so much TV comedy, but has the ability to suggest the bruised heart beneath the exterior.”

Don’t Let Go. “Its cop-movie cliches and shock effects keep dragging it back into standard time.”

For my Seasoned Ticket post at the Scarecrow Video blog, I say something about Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché, a new documentary that charts the life of the pioneering filmmaker; the doc plays at Seattle’s Beacon theater. Read it here.

Movie Diary 8/28/2019

The Iron Curtain (William Wellman, 1948). Oddball project. A Soviet code expert (Dana Andrews, in severe Russian haircut) and wife (Gene Tierney) are sent to Ottawa after WWII; life in Canada doesn’t seem so horrible and gradually begins to look better than spying for the Commies – a very somber Ninotchka variation. The piece is done in the postwar Fox style of “filmed in the locations where these events actually happened,” so it has that noir-verité quality. It was based on a true story. Quite a few very handsome set-ups (Charles Clarke photographed), but there isn’t much Wellman can do with the story’s tendency to plod from one point to the next. Feature debut for super-creepy Berry Kroeger; June Havoc has a few smart moments as a crafty Russian.

They Might Be Giants (Anthony Harvey, 1971). Nice re-visit to this cult film, with George C. Scott and Joanne Woodward as a different kind of Holmes and Watson. A good New York movie, with an incredible cast of current or future supporting-actor mainstays (even a very young F. Murray Abraham).

Movie Diary 8/27/2019

Don’t Let Go (Jacob Aaron Estes, 2019). Estes directed two previous features, Mean Creek and The Details, and they were interesting enough to make you wonder whether he’d put it together at some point. Not yet, it seems, although there are some shudders in this time-bending story of an LAPD copy (David Oyelowo) receiving phone calls from the past. (full review 8/29)

While We’re Young (Noah Baumbach, 2014). A re-visit to a pleasant comedy, just for wind-down time. Forgot how fine Charles Grodin is in this.

Movie Diary 8/26/2019

Under the Silver Lake (David Robert Mitchell, 2018). An update of Rear Window in which the voyeur (Andrew Garfield) is pervier than James Stewart and also flagrantly conspiracy-obsessed. Mitchell, the director of It Follows, seems determined to make it difficult to actually like the hero and his journey, and yet the movie compellingly flings you forward through its increasingly surreal L.A. undergrowth; Mitchell has a knack for visual flow, to say nothing of the propulsive beat of the jangled soundtrack. The movie’s overloaded to the point that you might miss the clean, sinister lines of It Follows, but it feels like one of those projects a young director wants to get out of his system.

Movie Diary 8/25/2019

Verboten! (Samuel Fuller, 1959). A blend of melodrama with an essay film before people started talking about essay films – also with a Paul Anka love theme. Fuller pulls no punches here. It’s about a U.S. soldier (James Best) who falls for a German woman (Susan Cummings); in the immediate aftermath of WWII, they get caught up in the struggle against the remaining Nazi sympathizers. At various times Fuller uses real war footage, but not because he’s padding out a low-budget production; the more into the movie you go, the more you understand that for Verboten!, cinema itself is crucial evidence of the reality of war, and a bulwark of democracy. The climax has Cummings taking her fascist-leaning brother to the Nuremberg trials, where they (and the audience) witness footage that documents Nazi atrocities. Fuller isn’t making a movie about the late 1940s; you get that this film is meant for now, whenever that is. So many scenes include posters and handheld placards that shout at you – the film unrolls as a series of those. Within a year, Jean-Luc Godard made his first film, and he’s still using some of Fuller’s techniques.

Angel Ready (This Week’s Movies)


Samara Weaving: Ready or Not (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

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

Angel Has Fallen. “Sticks to the low road, relying on hackneyed dialogue and the belief that the more ammunition, the better. This might be bearable if it weren’t for the screenplay’s tilt toward mawkishness — you won’t be surprised to learn that it was all ‘about family’ in the end.”

Ready or Not. “This film does its job, delivering bloody laughs and sending the upper crust to Kingdom Come — good enough for the dog days of August.”

For my Seasoned Ticket post at the Scarecrow Video blog, I look back at a review of Francis Coppola’s The Cotton Club. The director’s latest cut of Apocalypse Now plays at the Ark Lodge and the Grand Illusion locally. Read it here.

Movie Diary 8/21/2109

Corridors of Blood (Robert Day, 1958). A British-made Karloff picture, with a bare minimum of actual horror but lots of well-tuned period atmosphere. It mixes together some grave-robbing business with Karloff’s Jekyll-like attempts to brew up anesthesia. (He gets high on his own supply, to the point of losing his skills as a surgeon.) Boris throws his usual commitment to the show, and the supporting cast is full of good folks: Adrienne Corri, Christopher Lee, Finlay Currie, Francis Matthews. Director Day gets some handsome shots, especially in the tavern where Lee skulks around in a stovepipe hat, waiting to hurry off with a fresh corpse. Day also directed The Green Man, and later went to Hollywood, made a lot of TV, married Dorothy Provine, and died on Bainbridge Island in 2017.