Movie Diary 11/15/2016

A Monster Calls (J.A. Bayona, 2016). The Spanish filmmaker who did The Orphanage and The Impossible, with a theme about life and stories and accepting things – a fruitful topic, to be sure. But is a good theme a good movie? (full review 1/6)

Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan, 2016). What could follow Lonergan’s Margaret? A tough act, but the filmmaker is on familiar ground (if not quite as on fire) with this story of an embittered man (Casey Affleck) called to take it up a notch. Which he might not be able to do, the usual movie outline to the contrary. (full review 12/4)

Ixcanul (Jayro Bustamente, 2016). A Guatemalan tale, set next to a volcano. The plot has some age-old contours, but the setting certainly makes it seem fresh. (full review 11/18)

Movie Diary 11/14/2016

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (David Yates, 2016). Strike up the wand, it’s J.K. Rowling again, launching another blockbuster franchise. We’ll see about that; meantime, this installment is pretty fun – except in all that obligatory business of setting up the next four movies. But it can’t be a blockbuster unless it has a universe. (full review 11/18)

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (Ang Lee, 2016). The movie’s got some spunk. But I saw it “flat” – no 3D, no super-high-frame-rate – and I wonder whether it needs its technological innovations to make it clear why Lee wanted to do the movie. (full review 11/18)

Aquarius Arrival (This Week’s Movies)

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Sonia Braga: Aquarius (courtesy Netflix)

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

Aquarius. “Frank in its ambition to explore The Way We Live Today, but also mysterious and elusive. I’ve seen few films this year more fascinating.”

Arrival. “When it comes to a payoff for all the gauzy head-scratching, Arrival reverts to a few basic sci-fi conventions.”

Gimme Danger. “Iggy Pop and Soupy Sales.”

This weekend the nonprofit Scarecrow Project joins with Barnes & Noble for a Book Fair in which Scarecrow benefits from B&N purchases made when you use a code. A fine excuse to buy physical media! I’ll be at the Barnes & Noble at Northgate Mall at 2 p.m. Saturday to give a little talk about “The Dream Factory” and how Hollywood created movie stars. Come on by and participate.

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Early warning: Next Friday, Nov. 18, the talkers of Framing Pictures will returns with another conversation about movies. Join us for discussion of movies with one-word titles: Arrival, Aquarius, Moonlight, Loving, and maybe more long-winded items. Check out our Facebook page, too.

Movie Diary 11/10/2016

Rules Don’t Apply (Warren Beatty, 2016). Can’t remember how strict the embargo is on this. On the other hand, who the hell reads this blog? In any case, this is a lively and surprisingly original movie, with Beatty as Howard Hughes – a subject he has noodled on for many years, yet this film has no hint of the magnum opus about it. (full review 11/23)

Islands in the Stream (Franklin J. Schaffner, 1977). The posthumous Hemingway book, with George C. Scott’s performance emphasizing the sensitive side of a mature, regretful artist. Almost inevitably, given the episodic structure, an uneven film, although the good parts are affecting. The Jerry Goldsmith score is echt-Seventies. It also has one of the best post-Blow-Up performances by David Hemmings (he’s a variation on Walter Brennan in To Have and Have Not).

Movie Diary 11/9/2016

Allied (Robert Zemeckis, 2016). A sturdy idea behind this WWII story, plus no small amount of star power thanks to Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard. Old-fashioned, very old-fashioned, with Zemeckis ably flexing his Hitchcock muscles at a couple of key moments. (full review 11/23)

Billy Budd (Peter Ustinov, 1962). There was a time when this movie was taken pretty seriously (I feel like one of the nuns may have shown it in class at dear old Blanchet High). Has anybody mentioned it lately? Robert Ryan and Terence Stamp play Herman Melville’s tormentor and victim – both excellent – and Ustinov is clever as the captain. Mostly acting and ideas, without much cinematic interest to support it.

Movie Diary 11/7/2016

Aquarius (Kleber Mendonça Filho, 2016). The great Sonia Braga makes the most – and that’s a lot – of this remarkable study of a woman holding the line against developers who want to knock down her condo building and put up a Trumpian monstrosity. But the film is about much more than that, as you will see if you see this movie, which you should. (full review 11/9)

Moonlight Ridge (This Week’s Movies)

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Alex R. Hibbert, Mahershala Ali: Moonlight. Courtesy A24 Films

Links to reviews I wrote for the Herald and Seattle Weekly, and etc.

Moonlight. “Sometimes the film’s style is muscular and striking, and sometimes it’s flat. But Jenkins has got one thing right: He really knows how to build.”

Hacksaw Ridge. “Skillful and emotionally potent, if maybe a little unresolved about what it’s saying.”

Christine. “Captured with real authority by Rebecca Hall, who plays Christine and is the best reason for seeing the movie.”