Movie Diary 7/11/2016

The Infiltrator (Brad Furman, 2016). Bryan Cranston takes the lead in a true-life crime saga, which goes the way of most undercover-cop movies. Not that that’s an entirely bad thing. (full review 7/22)

Sunset Boulevard (Billy Wilder, 1950). I hope it makes sense that the older one gets, the more one can relate to poor, deluded Norma Desmond (and how great Gloria Swanson is).

Eat That Question: Frank Zappa in His Own Words (Thorsten Schütte, 2016). Some music, but mostly stuff culled from Zappa’s interviews. Not surprisingly, there’s a great deal of articulate material issuing from the man, even if he perpetually seems like the loftiest, most self-satisfied kid in your high-school English class. (full review 7/22)

Dates, Fits, Cowboys (This Week’s Movies)


Royalty Hightower: The Fits

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

The Fits. “Practically a visual poem on the subject of introversion.”

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates. “Its bold proclamation that women can be just as moronic as men.”

Les Cowboys. “The outline of one of the mightiest of all American films, The Searchers.”

Hunt for the Wilderpeople. “This film is Kiwi down to its bones.”

Tonight, Friday July 8, 7 p.m., the talkers in Framing Pictures will re-convene for a conversation at Scarecrow Video. Join us for a freewheeling talk about movies old and new, and what you’d like to talk about. Tonight’s topics include the recent deaths of directors Abbas Kiarostami and Michael Cimino, Nicolas Winding Refn’s The Neon Demon, and what makes great movie acting (embodied by Cary Grant and Olivia de Havilland). Check the FP Facebook page for updates.

On Sunday July 17 I’ll be participating in “Red Rain and Monsters: A 200th Anniversary of the Shelleys and Byron at Lake Geneva,” a performance and discussion exploring the 1816 summer that brought together a celebrated group of artists and resulted in the writing of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. See more information here.

Movie Diary 7/5/2016

The Fits (Anna Rose Holmer, 2016). Helmer Holmer (I’ve been wanting to say that) is one of the real discoveries of the movie year, and this study of an introverted pre-teen, who joins the school dance squad just as it is hit by an epidemic of fainting spells, is fascinating. (full review 7/8)

Les Cowboys (Thomas Bidegain, 2015). Directing debut of one of the writers of A Prophet, and an especially good movie to experience without knowing too much about it. So suffice it to say that it has to do with events of the world today, but through a very personal lens. (full review 7/8)

The Fury (Brian De Palma, 1978). The strengths and weaknesses of De Palma are on ample display. In the current documentary about him, the director doesn’t have much enthusiasm for this title, and yeah, he’s probably right about that.

Ace in the Hole (Billy Wilder, 1951). Seemed like a good idea – you know, “in this day and age” – to revisit Wilder’s acid-dipped valentine directed at us. It really clicks, all the way down to the floor.

Swiss Army Tarzan Purge (This Week’s Links)


Ruby Barnhill and a motion-captured Mark Rylance: The BFG

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

The BFG. “A decent test case for wondering whether the digital mode of moviemaking has passed the point of fatigue.”

The Legend of Tarzan. “A superhero, called back to Africa to save the people of the Congo from colonial exploitation.”

The Purge: Election Year. “DeMonaco has left little doubt this isn’t really sci-fi – more like something ripped from today’s headlines.”

Swiss Army Man. “I can’t help liking a movie in which the hero delivers a philosophical, reflective speech while being slowly dragged away by a hungry bear. Take that, Leonardo DiCaprio.”

Wiener-Dog. “Every word is measured for maximum soul-crushing effect.”

Movie Diary 6/29/2016

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (Jake Szymanski, 2016). R-rated hijinks, with the refreshing twist that the women – Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza, Sugar Lyn Beard – don’t have to play it straight while the men serve up the raunch. An advance, of sorts. At first there’s some indication that someone involved is a fan of Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, but this movie doesn’t have the nerve to commit at that level. (full review 7/8)

Movie Diary 6/28/2016

The Purge: Election Year (James DeMonaco, 2016). The series comes off its top-notch second installment and puts the politics right up front, as a presidential candidate (Elizabeth Mitchell) finds herself out and about on the wrong night of the year. Frank Grillo returns, and some new cast members add juice. Definitely not as tightly-conceived as the previous films, but when it gets going it does get going. (full review 7/1)

Movie Diary 6/27/2016)

Swiss Army Man (Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert, 2016). Paul Dano is shipwrecked on a desert island, Daniel Radcliffe is the flatulent corpse that keeps him company. There aren’t many movies like this one, which makes it pretty zingy to watch -if not in the memory (we’ll see about that), but certainly from scene to wacky scene. (full review 7/1)

The Legend of Tarzan (David Yates, 2016). Alexander Skarsgaard takes the role, and even cultivates a jungle yell. Somebody supplied some Tarantino-esque dialogue (co-screenwriter Craig Brewer?), and needless to say the slant this time is decidedly anti-colonialist. Elsewhere, all is CGI. (full review 7/1)


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