Just Letters to Robin (Weekly Links)

Blanchett, Crowe, Robin Hood

Reviews I wrote for the Herald this week, and more.

Robin Hood. “Leaves behind the twinkle of Errol Flynn.”

Letters to Juliet. “The peculiar, slightly spooky quality of Amanda Seyfried.”

Just Wright. “Mostly left up to the actors.”

The Secret of Kells. “You’ll need to be an animation buff to really swoon over it.”

On our “Cultural Moment” segment on KUOW’s “Weekday,” I talk with Steve Scher about depictions of Mohammed and other religious figures, and the free-speech issues that attend; listen here. The movie bit begins around the 14-minute mark.

Also I contribute an old program note to the special Sam Peckinpah section at Parallax View, on the subject of Ride the High Country. My piece isn’t much beyond an introduction, but check out the strong writing on a great American filmmaker in the rest of the section.

Movie Diary 5/10/2010

Soul Kitchen (Fatih Akin, 2009). The director of The Edge of Heaven and Head On delivers the feel-good movie of the year? You better believe it. You will be grinning from the first scene, or at least from the first appearance of fat-faced, silly-haired Adam Bousdoukos, who plays the lead and co-wrote the script with Akin. (Plays at Seattle International Film Festival 5/21, 5/23)

Letters to Juliet (Gary Winick, 2010). Chick-flick authority, delivered by the strangely somber Amanda Seyfried and the mighty Vanessa Redgrave. (full review 5/14)

Just Wright (Sanaa Hamri, 2010). Queen Latifah’s mother is played by Pam Grier – and if that’s not a reason to give the movie the benefit of the doubt, I don’t know what is. Leading man Common has an intense, head-on method about him. (full review 5/14)

Wheedle’s Groove (Jennifer Maas, 2010). Document of the kicky Seattle soul scene in the 1960s and 70s. Good fun, and I have the eerie feeling a couple of these bands must’ve played at school dances at Blanchet High School back in the day. (plays at SIFF 5/28, 5/30)

City of Life and Death (Lu Chuan, 2009). Lu Chuan’s previous feature was the weirdly under-noticed Kekexili: Mountain Patrol, but this grueling black-and-white war epic will likely gain more attention, even if its calm depiction of the barbarism inflicted by the invading Japanese army in 1937 is difficult to watch at times. (plays at SIFF 5/22, 5/25, 5/30)

Air Doll (Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2009). A light offering from a fine filmmaker, all about a life-size blow-up doll that takes on real life and gets a job at a video store. Well, where else? (plays at SIFF 5/21, 5/24)

Katalin Varga (Peter Strickland, 2009). A revenge journey, undertaken by a wronged woman and charted through the Carpathian mountains; beautifully produced, furiously downbeat. (plays at SIFF 5/21, 5/24, 5/26)

Garbo: The Spy (Edmond Roch, 2009). A great true story, about an eccentric Spanish man who became an influential double agent on behalf of the Allies in World War II; among other things, his long-winded messages back to the Third Reich helped convince Germany that the invasion of Normandy was merely a diversion and that it would be suicidal to throw their defenses against that one landing point. (plays at SIFF 6/1, 6/3, 6/5)

Bass Ackwards (Linas Phillips, 2010). The Walking to Werner guy gets more fictional this time, albeit back on the road and still with himself at the center of the frame. (plays SIFF 5/21, 5/23)