Invisible (This Week’s Movies)


Mia Goth, Anya Taylor-Joy: Emma (Focus Features)

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

The Invisible Man. “That rare film in which screen space becomes a living, vital presence. ”

Emma. “There are so many bright young actors here, this movie could well become the Dazed and Confused of British cinema.”

Seberg. “Seberg remains a bit of a blank.”

Join us Saturday (2/29) afternoon at 2 for another session of Scarecrow Academy, where we’ll speak of Jacques Tourneur’s I Walked with a Zombie (1943), offered up for “The Art in Horror: Horror and the Director.” It’s a free event, at Scarecrow Video.

For the Scarecrow Video blog, I revive an interview with Invisible Man director Leigh Whannell and his partner in crime James Wan, on the occasion of their visiting Seattle for the release of Saw in 2004. Read it here.

At What a Feeling! this week, we take a look back at more 1980s reviews: Jean-Jacques Annaud’s The Bear; Lindsay Anderson’s Britannia Hospital; Robert Townsend’s Eddie Murphy Raw; and Tony Scott’s Beverly Hills Cop II.

Movie Diary 2/26/2020

Mister Roberts (John Ford and Mervyn LeRoy, 1955). A childhood mainstay, much of it known by heart. A little too much horseplay, but what a cast: Lemmon-as-Pulver is indelible, of course, but I had forgotten how great Cagney is. Fonda being too old for the role makes his presence even more remote and impossible somehow, even more a singular man among boys. The shots of the sea from the ship and the islands around are dreamy. The final stanza is among the most memorable of any movie I saw at a tender age, and I’m sorry if I’ve ever forgotten that stinking palm tree for very long.

Movie Diary 2/25/2020

The Invisible Man (Leigh Whannell, 2020). A rare big movie in which screen space becomes a crucial part of the experience. Kudos to Whannell, too, for casting an actress – Elisabeth Moss – who can carry the picture to the next level, and probably the next one beyond that. (full review 2/27)

Movie Diary 2/24/2020

Nashville (Robert Altman, 1975). The audacity never pales.

Welcome to Marwen (Robert Zemeckis, 2018). A genuinely interesting movie. This is the much-derided and instantly-vanishing feature adaptation of the documentary about Mark Hogancamp, the artist who – after suffering an amnesia-inducing beating – photographs tiny WWII dioramas created with dolls. This film creates a few alarming Hollywoodization possibilities, but manages to sidestep a large number of them. Hogancamp’s little creatures come to computer-generated life, maybe a little too extensively. As a concept for how a damaged person might deal with trauma, the set-up is touching, and the human side is admirably held up by Steve Carell, Leslie Mann, and Merritt Weaver.

Movie Diary 2/23/2020

2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968). The audacity never pales.

The Friends of Eddie Coyle (Peter Yates, 1973). The movie had never crossed my path, and I just read the (absolutely marvelous) novel a year ago. The literary approach – no narration or connective tissue, just a series of dialogue scenes – is maintained, in a way that could only have happened in the 70s. Mitchum is great, dropping his cool and allowing himself to be grubby and desperate.

Lady Call (This Week’s Movies)


Noemie Merlant, Adele Haenel: Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Neon)

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

Portrait of a Lady on Fire. “Brightly colored but also cool and crisp; you can feel the brisk sea air in its scenes of women striding along the coast.”

The Call of the Wild. “Kiddie fare, and not especially distinguished as that. But it does come to life when Ford and the other old wolves get their due.”

At What a Feeling!, more 1980s reviews posted this week: Jay Russell’s End of the Line, Peter Markle’s Bat 21, Eugene Corr’s Desert Bloom, and George Miller’s (but not that George Miller’s) The Man from Snowy River.

Tomorrow (Saturday) at 2 p.m. at Scarecrow Video, we’ll continue with The Art in Horror: Horror and the Director, a series in Scarecrow Academy. The topic for the day is Carl Th. Dreyer’s Vampyr (1932), and the event is free.

Movie Diary 2/19/2020

Greed (Michael Winterbottom, 2019). Satire that focuses on a buccaneer billionaire (Steve Coogan), with lots of Big Short-style explainers about how the system is broken. There’s a good role for the sly British comedian-pundit David Mitchell, and some nice asides, although on the whole it needs to be funnier. (full review 3/5)

Onward (Dan Scanlon, 2020). The new Pixar, and an original. A decidedly odd story and some off-putting character design. Nice ending, but you expect that from Pixar. (full review 3/5)

Movie Diary 2/18/2020

Seberg (Benedict Andrews, 2019). Kristen Stewart as Jean Seberg, in a sincere film that focuses on the FBI’s vicious retaliation against her for her activism. Not sure why we spend so much time with the FBI agent (Jack O’Connell) affected by the harassment campaign, and not more time on the production of Paint Your Wagon (I kid on the latter point, but that shoot must have been quite a scene). And the title – why not The Seberg Case, or The File on Jean Seberg, or whatever? (fullreview 2/27)

Movie Diary 2/17/2020

Cry Terror! (Andrew L. Stone, 1958). Weird one, with a series of suspense set-pieces, mostly rendered in real locations, per the M.O. of Stone and wife Virginia. A madman (Rod Steiger) blackmails an inventor (James Mason) into helping him execute a ransom involving a bomb and an airline. The always vaguely tragic Inger Stevens is responsible for most of the interest here, running around trying to save the day and being creepily menaced by henchman Neville Brand. We’ve also got Angie Dickinson and Jack Klugman, both devoted to Steiger’s wickedness. The movie is plenty deranged, and it looks wrong, too; Stone’s compositional eye always seems to have the players too close or too far away from the camera. Stevens has a long voiceover section that predicts her performance in the Twilight Zone episode The Hitchhiker. Mason has a random v.o. sequence too. A clumsy movie.

A Cry in the Night (Frank Tuttle, 1956). Freak-boy Raymond Burr kidnaps Natalie Wood from Lover’s Lane, while her cop father (Edmond O’Brien) and pal (Brian Donlevy) search the city. Burr goes full Lenny-in-Of-Mice-and-Men, a real 50s psychological workout. Not exactly good, but with enough quirk to sustain its 75 minutes.

Movie Diary 2/16/2020

The Call of the Wild (Chris Sanders, 2020). Another one of these – with Harrison Ford and a computer-generated dog. The digital approach makes sense, given what the dog goes through. Ford looks more interested than he has in a while. (full review 2/20)

The Fog (John Carpenter, 1980). First viewing in a long time. Whatever sort of silliness lurks around the old salts and their watery attack is outweighed by the evil-history-will-come-back-to-haunt-you business. The movie sure is impeccably made.