Movie Diary 10/1/2019

Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019). Joaquin Phoenix is one of the most unusual actors in cinema, but then you knew that. If there were any question about whether, cast right, his presence could make even an incoherent mess of a movie interesting, this settles it. (Turns out his Letterman appearance was a warm-up for what we see here.) (full review 10/3)

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Movie Diary 9/30/2019

Where’s My Roy Cohn? (Matt Tyrnauer, 2019). A documentary about the monster, with plenty of solid connections made to Donald Trump. If only the people who needed to see this movie would see this movie. (full review 10/9)

Lonesome (Paul Fejos, 1928). A completely dear almost-silent film, about a single fellow and gal who find each other at Coney Island one afternoon. A wonderful New York movie, among other things, with a consistently playful way of thinking through images, except for those occasions when brief dialogue scenes punctuate the action.

Pool of London (Basil Deardon, 1951). My man Bonar Colleano leads an ensemble cast in this wharfside drama that looks at harmless smuggling, racial prejudice, loneliness, and a diamond robbery. There are also music-hall sequences. It absolutely qualifies as Brit-noir. Deardon’s treatment of an interracial attraction (between sailor Earl Cameron and ticket-taker Susan Shaw, Colleano’s real-life wife) anticipates his later odd film Sapphire. Nicely understated presence from Renee Asherson, balancing out Colleano’s brashness.

Judy Shall (This Week’s Movies)

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Renee Zellweger: Judy (LD Entertainment and Roadside Attractions)

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

Judy. “If you’re a fan of Hollywood, you know the yellow brick road did not lead to happiness. Judy repeats the idea, without expanding on it.”

The Day Shall Come. “Most of the jokes are just a tad overstated, slightly pushed with winks or eye-rolls, as though Morris didn’t trust the audience to pick them up.”

No Scarecrow blog entry this week, but don’t forget to investigate Scarecrow Academy. Next date: Wednesday, October 9.

Movie Diary 9/25/2019

Pillow Talk (Michael Gordon, 1959). The end of the Eisenhower era captured in a fashionable farce, nimbly played and crammed with the kind of questionable and sometimes maddening plot developments so popular during the era. Interesting to watch Doris Day and Rock Hudson at certain moments – glances and stares – when they look as though they’re going to burst out with something authentically wild that would break this whole illusion apart. Terrible theme song, sung by Doris. The funny lines are genuinely funny.

Movie Diary 9/24/2019

The Day Shall Come (Chris Morris, 2019). Satire that for whatever reason (maybe just by virtue of being set in the USA, with its words being filtered through American accents?) doesn’t have the bite of Morris’s scathing Four Lions. Some good lesser-known people in the cast, which also features Anna Kendrick and Dennis O’Hare. (full review 9/19)

Movie Diary 9/23/2019

Ernie & Joe (Jenifer McShane, 2019). Documentary at the Port Townsend Film Festival: Two burly San Antonio cops help develop a program to deal more effectively with mentally ill people. Scores huge both as a social-issue strategy and character study (and coming to HBO shortly).

Nasumice (aka Adrift, Caleb Burdeau, 2019). Also at PTFF. Very much a 70s Wim Wenders sort of feel with this piece, about a Bosnian photographer floating around Italy circa 1994, while the Balkans are collapsing. The current leads him to Puglia, where an eccentric manchild takes him for a look at the sea and some musings on life and language. Quite a lovely sense of place here, and some amusing deadpan behavior involving Italian parents, although the characters seem to exist mostly as constructs. Pleasantly slow.

Anbessa (Mo Scarpelli, 2019). And another PTFF picture. A boy in Ethiopia, his family displaced by encroaching condos, takes solace in pretending to be a lion. The movie exists somewhere between documentary and shaped narrative, with a tremendously engaging central presence. The accumulation of details is very much the point, with the business of gathering water or avoiding bullies providing what narrative there is.

Downton Astra (This Week’s Movies)

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Brad Pitt: Ad Astra (Twentieth Century Fox)

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

Ad Astra. “The way the film plugs in its science-fiction elements willy nilly, without particularly caring about them, is an issue.”

Downton Abbey. “Nostalgic nonsense of the most shameless kind, a gushing mash note to the British upper class.”

The Sound of Silence. “A major co-star is the sound design, which, fittingly enough, tends to sound like a comforting blanket of white noise.”

No Seasoned Ticket entry for the Scarecrow blog this week, but I’ll be at Scarecrow Video Wednesday night for a free Scarecrow Academy session at 7. The 1959 film under scrutiny: Pillow Talk.