Somewhere, Valentine Country (Weekly Links)

Williams, Gosling, Blue Valentine

Reviews I wrote for the Herald this week:

Somewhere. “More often, the conclusions here are so obvious they feel belabored.”

Casino Jack. “There’s only so much sleaze a movie can absorb.”

Blue Valentine. “An actor’s showcase, and that turns out to be both its strength and its weakness.”

Country Strong. “Requires an exuberant hokum.”

Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench. “It’s a fair question to wonder whether the drama stops for the music, or the other way around.”

On KUOW’s “Weekday,” I talk with Steve Scher about Casino Jack; because two of that film’s people have recently died (director George Hickenlooper and actor Maury Chaykin), this leads into some thoughts on movie people who died in 2010. Listen here; the movie bit kicks in around 14:05.

Today’s movie over at my website of Eighties pictures, What a Feeling!: Say Anything….

Movie Diary 1/3/2011

Nightfall (Jacques Tourneur, 1957). I just watched this in August. But it’s excellent. Tourneur has an amazingly good way into conversations, of finding his way into a room or a scene and visualizing the apt way to stage that particular moment, whether it’s a shadowed interior in the middle of the night or a wasteland dotted with oil rigs. The movie is subtly different from the David Goodis novel, even as it remains faithful to the main points of the story.

The Ref (Ted Demme, 1994). Hadn’t seen it since it first came out. It deserves the sleeper reputation, but “classic” would be overstating it. Leary, Spacey, Davis–everybody looks young.

Casino Jack (George Hickenlooper, 2010). Kevin Spacey again, riffing through the Jack Abramoff story. A pretty nice fleet job by Hickenlooper, who died in October at a very young age. Maury Chaykin, an actor I always enjoyed for the force he brought to his many five-minute roles, does an echt-Chaykin part here (and he died in July).

Today’s movie at my other website, What a Feeling!: High Road to China. Tom Selleck in his first starring movie–how could it miss?