Movie Diary 4/17/2017

A Quiet Passion (Terence Davies, 2016). There’s no way you can make a film about the life of Emily Dickinson, unless, apparently, you are Terence Davies and Cynthia Nixon. An unusual treatment, formal and even stiff at times, but leaving no doubt about the aesthetic urgency that underlies every moment. (full review 5/5)

High-Rise (Ben Wheatley, 2015). Missed this one the first time around, and Wheatley’s got a new movie, Free Fire, out on Friday. Here, the allegorical possibilities of a society contained in high-tech apartment building are just too ripe to resist; but the big problem is how not-very-fun any of this is, while the lessons are hammered to death.

Colossal Gifted Furious (This Week’s Movies)

colossal

Anne Hathaway: Colossal

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

The Fate of the Furious. “Other characters return not only from the past but also from the dead, as is the custom in this series. This thing is like a daytime soap opera with car chases.”

Colossal. “Once Colossal sets its conceptual hook, it pushes its zany premise into authentically uncomfortable territory. It’s actually about something.”

Gifted. “Apparently there’s something about seeing a first-grader stride to a blackboard and solve an Einstein-level math equation that is irresistibly appealing.”

Tonight, April 14, the talkers of Framing Pictures re-convene for another free-flowing conversation about movies. Subjects under discussion include Raw, The Assignment, and an upcoming SIFF mini-series of Douglas Sirk classics. Also fair game: the Netflix original doc Five Came Back, about Hollywood directors who went to World War II. Check the Facebook page for more info. And we’ll see you at Scarecrow, at 7 p.m.; the event is free.

 

Movie Diary 4/13/2017

Free Fire (Ben Wheatley, 2017). A movie devoted to a shoot-out between very confused factions. Lively cast, including Brie Larson, Sharlto Copley, Cillian Murphy, and Armie Hammer. Can’t shake the feeling that Wheatley’s films usually sound better than they play. (full review 4/21)

Movie Diary 4/12/2017

Five Came Back (Laurent Bouzereau, 2017). Three-hour Netflix doc about Hollywood directors who made movies for the war effort, based on Mark Harris’s book. The five are Ford, Capra, Huston, Wyler, and Stevens, and all get a pretty fair shake in this account. The strategy of having five current directors comment on the history both limits and enlivens the story, depending on the moment. (Join us for Framing Pictures this Friday night at 7  at Scarecrow Video, and we’ll discuss the project in person.)

The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (Cristi Puiu, 2015). A re-look at this hallmark of the Romanian New Wave shows it to be just as riveting as seeing it for the first time on the big screen. Equal parts Joseph Heller and Frederick Wiseman, the film is exacting in sketching its parade of passing characters, so many of them challenged in the basic business of having empathy for someone else.

Movie Diary 4/11/2017

The Fate of the Furious (F. Gary Gray, 2017). How many times do I have to tell you people, it’s about family? And this particular family saga has grown so complicated you need a scorecard to sift through the returning players and the resuscitated-from-the-dead supporting characters. None of which matters much, because cars crash and so do submarines and airplanes. (full review 4/14)

Movie Diary 4/10/2017

The Lost City of Z (James Gray, 2017) and Gifted (Marc Ross, 2017). Well what do you know – it is possible to have intelligently rendered, thoroughly middlebrow fare in today’s Hollywood. In another era one might have made fun of the dullness of the directorial touch in these films, but now they arrive like refreshing sessions of professionalism. Z is a true-life explorer’s tale, partly set in the Peruvian jungle, with Charlie Hunnam and Robert Pattinson as very gaunt trekkers. Gifted does a genius-child tale out of Little Man Tate and Good Will Hunting, with a smart script by Tom Flynn and strong supporting turns by Lindsay Duncan and Jenny Slate (Chris Evans is the nominal star). (full reviews 4/21 and 4/14)

Style Assignment (This Week’s Movies)

assignment

Michelle Rodriguez: The Assignment (courtesy SBS Films)

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

Going in Style. “Including a long sequence involving a nonsensical practice robbery at the grocery store, this movie has a huge amount of padding stuffed inside a modest pillowcase. It only runs 96 minutes, but feels much longer.”

The Assignment. “From its bad-taste premise to its chintzy production values, the film is deranged.”

Early warning: Friday April 14 the talkers of Framing Pictures re-convene for another free-flowing conversation about movies. Subjects under discussion include Raw, The Assignment, and an upcoming SIFF mini-series of Douglas Sirk classics. Also fair game: the Netflix original doc Five Came Back, about Hollywood directors who went to World War II. Check the Facebook page for more info. And we’ll see you at Scarecrow, at 7 p.m.; the event is free.