My Mummy Rachel (This Week’s Movies)

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Sam Claflin, Rachel Weisz: My Cousin Rachel (courtesy Fox Searchlight)

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

The Mummy. “This one is going in a lot of different directions at once.”

My Cousin Rachel. “Basically a chewy exercise in melodrama, but it’s also up to something interesting. The viewer is being set up for a test: Can we accurately read and interpret the clues of a movie, or will we be influenced by rumor, first impressions, and our own prejudices?”

Megan Leavey. “A Hallmark card of a film, but competently done.”

Tonight, June 9, the talkers in Framing Pictures re-convene for a conversation at Scarecrow Video. As the FP Facebook page puts it, “Framing Pictures has heard the owls, and accept our mission to meditate on the quarter-century-later return of Twin Peaks. Additionally, we are delighted that the neglected Peckinpah beauty The Ballad of Cable Hogue is getting a Bluray release, and Nicholas Ray’s They Live by Night–among the most auspicious of feature-directing debuts–is coming out on Criterion. Come help us talk about these and more, 7 p.m. Friday, June 9, Scarecrow Video Screening Room, 5030 Roosevelt Way N.E. Still a bargain at $00.00.”

Movie Diary 6/6/2017

The Mummy (Alex Kurtzman, 2017). A little too much on the table here, I think: It’s a big piece of a new Dark Universe of monster movies, it’s a Tom Cruise summer movie, it’s a callback to an old classic. One misses Karloff. Also, the early deployment of jokes is welcome; later, it would be nice if things got serious. (full review 6/9)

Movie Diary 6/5/2017

My Cousin Rachel (Roger Michell, 2017). Rachel Weisz and Sam Claflin in Daphne Du Maurier’s story of ambiguity personified in a recently-widowed woman; when she arrives at her cousin’s Cornwall mansion, is her spellcasting innocent or predatory? That’s plenty for a movie, and Weisz plays it down the line. (full review 6/9)

The Dumb Girl of Portici (Lois Weber, Phillips Smalley, 1916). A big physical production of a sweeping melodrama, and the only movie starring the legendary Pavlova. She’s a fascinating presence – no surprise that a ballet giant would have a gift for distinctive pantomime. The crowd scenes are excitingly choreographed, and the seaside village thoroughly convincing.

Wonder Can Wait (This Week’s Movies)

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Gal Gadot: Wonder Woman (courtesy Warner Bros. Entertainment)

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

Wonder Woman. “Gadot is hugely appealing in the role. She and Jenkins have leaned toward Christopher Reeve’s first Superman as a model for how to play the role: strong but innocent, a fish out of water.”

Paris Can Wait. “Blissfully unaware of its own comfy worldview.”

Early warning: Framing Pictures re-convenes next Friday. From Facebook: “Framing Pictures has heard the owls, and accept our mission to meditate on the quarter-century-later return of Twin Peaks. Additionally, we are delighted that the neglected Peckinpah beauty The Ballad of Cable Hogue is getting a Bluray release, and Nicholas Ray’s They Live by Night–among the most auspicious of feature-directing debuts–is coming out on Criterion. Come help us talk about these and more, 7 p.m. Friday, June 9, Scarecrow Video Screening Room, 5030 Roosevelt Way N.E. Still a bargain at $00.00.”

Movie Diary 6/1/2017

Megan Leavey (Gabriela Cowperthwaite, 2017). Tru-life story about a military bomb-sniffing dog and its trainer (Kate Mara). Don’t look for many complicating factors in this inspirational tale, but the dogs are handsome. By the way: Could nobody come up with a better title than to use the full name of the real person involved? That’s not even trying. (full review 6/2)

A Master Builder (Jonathan Demme, 2014). Demme served as film director for one of those long-duration experimental-theater projects by Andre Gregory and Wallace Shawn, in this case an intimate take on the Ibsen play. An odd movie of an odd play, shot mostly in close-up. It includes a standout performance by Julie Hagerty in an extremely serious role.

Movie Diary 5/31/2017

Wonder Woman (Patty Jenkins, 2017). A good thing for the DC comics universe. Using the first Christopher Reeve Superman movie as a model for the character is not a lousy idea at all. (full review 6/2)

A Ghost Story (David Lowery, 2017). There’s a lot to be said for the effectiveness of someone standing around in a white sheet while occupying a corner of a room. This movie might have a touching idea at the center of it, too. But I haven’t believed in one of Lowery’s movies yet. (screens at SIFF)

Movie Diary 5/30/2017

Searchers (Zacharias Kunuk, 2016). The director of the great Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner) returns to the ice, with a story that recalls The Searchers – not as a repudiation, but as a variation. The film is both brutal and sweeping, and never less than intriguing as a view from inside an indigenous culture. (screens at SIFF)

Finding Kukan (Robin Lung, 2016). A right-on piece of film history, in which the filmmaker tracks down the facts behind the makers of a 1941 documentary called Kukan: The Battle Cry of China (it won a special Oscar that year). That film does not survive in complete form, though the surviving footage looks remarkable. This project uncovers the story of Li Ling-Ai, a saucy mid-century personality who was the de facto (if uncredited) producer of Kukan. (screens at SIFF)

Crazy Mama (Jonathan Demme, 1975). A cheaply-made exploitation picture for Roger Corman’s company, and yet Demme’s eye for American life and people is a lot like it would be in his greatest movies to come. This is a thoroughly and energetically loopy movie.