Felt (Jason Banker, 2014). Disorienting and disoriented indie about a young woman whose bad luck with men seemingly ends when she meets a new, blank beau; but given the psycho-sexual loadedness of her work in making art out of felt, this cannot end well. Most scenes look improvised. (full review 7/10)
Mr. Holmes (Bill Condon, 2015). Ian McKellen as the aged Sherlock Holmes, losing his memory but determined to piece together the case that drove him out of detective work years earlier. The movie’s got its highs and lows, and I wasn’t always sure what McKellen was up to – am I right in observing a trace of John Gielgud in his performance? But darned if the thing doesn’t build to an intriguing ending that has to do with the human need for fiction, even in Sherlock Holmes’ factual world. (full review 7/17)
Testament of Youth (James Kent, 2014). Vera Brittain’s memoir of WWI life, given a sleepy treatment despite the allegedly hot cast (Alicia Vikander, Kit Harington, Taron Egerton – surely some of those consonants are in the wrong place?). The last thing this story needs is the respectable approach. (full review 7/10)
The Tribe (Miroslav Slaboshpytskiy, 2014). My first Ukrainian sign-language movie, and it doesn’t have subtitles. But the lack of words turns out to be the movie’s strongest stroke, a fascinating way into an exotic world. Without the gimmick, the film itself (life in the violent hothouse of a boarding school for thuggish deaf teenagers) does tend to wallow in miserablism. (full review 7/10)
Links to my reviews published this week in the Herald and Seattle Weekly.
Keep up with the Overlook Podcast, which ought to be having something come up very soon.
The Brave Don’t Cry (Philip Leacock, 1952). Strong dose of British Realism, all about a mining disaster in a Scots town and its tense aftermath. The terse approach suits the subject, making the occasional lyricism – weary miners break out in a folk song as they wait in their underground tomb – all the more charged. Executive produced by John Grierson. (Seen at the Edinburgh Filmhouse as part of the Edinburgh Film Festival.)
One Cut, One Life (Ed Pincus, Lucia Small, 2014). Final testament for the documentary maker Pincus, who chose to film his last months with a terminal illness, to the consternation of everybody. Not really an illness movie, more of a “Why do we feel the need to document every moment?” movie. (full review 7/3)
When Marnie Was There (Hiromasa Yonebayashi, 2014). A Studio Ghibli deal, about a shy type who goes to the seaside for a summer and befriends the possibly ghostly girl in the mysterious mansion across the tidal flats. Not as luminous as Yonebayashi’s Secret World of Arietty, but plenty easy on the eyes nonetheless. (full review 7/3)
Links to my reviews published in the Herald and Seattle Weekly, and etc.
At the Overlook Podcast, Steve Scher and I think about the ways movies create whole worlds. Case in point: Only Angels Have Wings. Listen here.
Sunshine Superman (Marah Strauch, 2014). Documentary portrait of BASE jumping pioneer Carl Boenish, a manic oddball who liked to make movies as he fell off cliffs and buildings and bridges. Carl’s footage is woven together with interviews with other BASE enthusiasts (the ones who are still alive to talk about it), including Carl’s equally eccentric wife Jean. There is undoubtedly a large audience of people who will tune in to this movie’s efforts to make all this seem sunny and liberating, and then there will be the rest of us. (full review 6/26)