Judy Shall (This Week’s Movies)


Renee Zellweger: Judy (LD Entertainment and Roadside Attractions)

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

Judy. “If you’re a fan of Hollywood, you know the yellow brick road did not lead to happiness. Judy repeats the idea, without expanding on it.”

The Day Shall Come. “Most of the jokes are just a tad overstated, slightly pushed with winks or eye-rolls, as though Morris didn’t trust the audience to pick them up.”

No Scarecrow blog entry this week, but don’t forget to investigate Scarecrow Academy. Next date: Wednesday, October 9.

Movie Diary 9/25/2019

Pillow Talk (Michael Gordon, 1959). The end of the Eisenhower era captured in a fashionable farce, nimbly played and crammed with the kind of questionable and sometimes maddening plot developments so popular during the era. Interesting to watch Doris Day and Rock Hudson at certain moments – glances and stares – when they look as though they’re going to burst out with something authentically wild that would break this whole illusion apart. Terrible theme song, sung by Doris. The funny lines are genuinely funny.

Movie Diary 9/24/2019

The Day Shall Come (Chris Morris, 2019). Satire that for whatever reason (maybe just by virtue of being set in the USA, with its words being filtered through American accents?) doesn’t have the bite of Morris’s scathing Four Lions. Some good lesser-known people in the cast, which also features Anna Kendrick and Dennis O’Hare. (full review 9/19)

Movie Diary 9/23/2019

Ernie & Joe (Jenifer McShane, 2019). Documentary at the Port Townsend Film Festival: Two burly San Antonio cops help develop a program to deal more effectively with mentally ill people. Scores huge both as a social-issue strategy and character study (and coming to HBO shortly).

Nasumice (aka Adrift, Caleb Burdeau, 2019). Also at PTFF. Very much a 70s Wim Wenders sort of feel with this piece, about a Bosnian photographer floating around Italy circa 1994, while the Balkans are collapsing. The current leads him to Puglia, where an eccentric manchild takes him for a look at the sea and some musings on life and language. Quite a lovely sense of place here, and some amusing deadpan behavior involving Italian parents, although the characters seem to exist mostly as constructs. Pleasantly slow.

Anbessa (Mo Scarpelli, 2019). And another PTFF picture. A boy in Ethiopia, his family displaced by encroaching condos, takes solace in pretending to be a lion. The movie exists somewhere between documentary and shaped narrative, with a tremendously engaging central presence. The accumulation of details is very much the point, with the business of gathering water or avoiding bullies providing what narrative there is.

Downton Astra (This Week’s Movies)


Brad Pitt: Ad Astra (Twentieth Century Fox)

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

Ad Astra. “The way the film plugs in its science-fiction elements willy nilly, without particularly caring about them, is an issue.”

Downton Abbey. “Nostalgic nonsense of the most shameless kind, a gushing mash note to the British upper class.”

The Sound of Silence. “A major co-star is the sound design, which, fittingly enough, tends to sound like a comforting blanket of white noise.”

No Seasoned Ticket entry for the Scarecrow blog this week, but I’ll be at Scarecrow Video Wednesday night for a free Scarecrow Academy session at 7. The 1959 film under scrutiny: Pillow Talk.

Movie Diary 9/17/2019

Judy (Rupert Goold, 2019). It’s Renée Zellweger (the credits insist on the accent mark) as Judy Garland, in a movie that focuses on Garland’s troubled run at London’s Talk of the Town club, a few months before her death in 1969. The movie’s at its best when it suggests (or maybe I’m seeing what I want to see) that genius sets its own terms, with commensurate rewards and punishments. That may be an easy conclusion, but when you’re talking about Garland, it makes sense.

Movie Diary 9/16/2019

The Mind Benders (Basil Deardon, 1963). Some very weird ideas loose in this UK project. Dirk Bogarde is part of a research team working in sensory-deprivation stuff, complete with water tanks. Did a colleague commit treason, or did the tank work lead to some sort of … brainwashing? Somehow this ends up with Bogarde himself being auto-suggested to turn against his wife (Mary Ure, faraway and interesting); the experiment works all too well. The deprivation scenes get into horror-movie territory (evocatively shot by Denys Coop), and the climax brings a pregnancy rather strangely to a conclusion. Some of the material, like the wife’s memories of being humiliated by Bogarde’s cruelty, open up issues that the film isn’t able to explore, or contain.

Movie Diary 9/15/2019

Ad Astra (James Gray, 2019). The people who are saying that James Gray is getting his Terrence Malick on are not incorrect. Ohhhh boy. (full review 9/19)

Deep Red (Dario Argento, 1975). A good one from Argento, with all the cool design stuff and a somewhat coherent (if not always especially well-motivated) scenario. The music from Goblin is on point. The imagination – visual and sonic – on display here is formidable; it makes me wonder what would’ve happened if Argento had focused all that on a more conventional story. But maybe that’s completely beside the point.

Official Gold Aqua (This Weeks’ Movies)


Keira Knightley: Official Secrets (IFC Films)

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

The Goldfinch. “Somehow the deep thoughts on the immortality of art don’t sit well with gunplay that seems to have crept in from a so-so NCIS episode.”

Official Secrets. “Does a clean, devastating job of laying out the ways that, as the central character puts it, “we were lied into an illegal war.””

Aquarela. “Not only are the super-high-definition visuals completely spellbinding to watch, the soundtrack is astonishing.” (For the Scarecrow Video blog.)



Movie Diary 9/11/2019

Imitation of Life (Douglas Sirk, 1959). Sirk working at full capacity here, in plush color-coordinated imagery. It’s not that Sirk is subverting the melodrama so much as using it to examine the fault lines in these lives, and the artificiality of the acting style fits in perfectly. Many frameable shots in this thing, but the one that got me this time was the one from the revolving stage, as we follow newly-minted showgirl Susan Kohner from her fairly unconvincing onstage persona to the more earthbound backstage reality.