Movie Diary 9/8/2019

Downton Abbey (Michael Engler, 2019). It still plays like Upstairs, Downstairs with its teeth removed. Rich people remain adorable. (full review 9/19)

Official Secrets (Gavin Hood, 2019). I get the impression this has met with a lukewarm reception on the festival circuit, but it deserves better. A dogged procedural style marks this account of the whistleblower (Keira Knightley) who exposed US/UK shenanigans during the ramp-up to the Iraq War; it’s Hood’s best film since the Oscar-winning Tsotsi. (full review 9/12)

Four Flies on Gray Velvet (Dario Argento, 1971). Whodunit weirdie from Argento, with a Morricone score. Plenty of style, not much logic, and some pretty damn tepid actors. Every time you want to give up on it Argento pulls off some supremely cool shot.

Neighboring Sounds (Kleber Mendonça Filho, 2012). From the director of my 2016 #1 film, Aquarius. This one has less plot, as it looks in on a street in Recife whose residents engage in mundane behavior but also exist in a hierarchy that has its roots in the distant past (something we get the real gist of, but even then only hazily, in the final sequences). The title is brilliant, as it cues you to the way this piece of urban landscape is made up of various noises, a few of them natural, most of them man-made. Along with his talent for creating scenes that interlock to make a compelling whole, KMF has a real eye for faces.

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