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 5/12/2010

The Secret of Kells (Tomm Moore, Nora Twomey, 2009). The unknown sneaker in the Best Foreign-Language Oscar category this year, an elaborately drawn fancy about the Book of Kells. Nagging feeling: this movie was supposed to be good for me. (full review 5/14)

Skeletons (Nick Whitfield, 2010). Since this film doesn’t tell you what it’s about right away (and I’m not sure it ever does), it seems unfair to say anything about it. Which suits me fine. (plays in Seattle International Film Festival 5/26, 5/28)

Man Bait (Terence Fisher, 1952). From the Hammer film noir DVD set, a film that is somehow not good but not bad, either; set at a small London bookstore that seems to employ a great number of people. George Brent is the lead, Diana Dors is in the title role.

Visionaries: Jonas Mekas and the (Mostly) American Avant-Garde Cinema (Chuck Workman, 2009). Bunch of stuff gets left out, inevitably, but the treatment of major experimental films is nicely judged. (plays in SIFF 5/27, 5/28)

American Faust: From Condi to Neo-Condi (Sebastian Doggart, 2009). Not too many surprises in material or attitude in this profile of Condoleeza Rice, but there’s still plenty of reason to be freshly appalled. (shows at SIFF 6/2, 6/3)

American: The Bill Hicks Story (Matt Harlock, Paul Thomas, 2009). The life of the late cult comedian is narrated by his friends and family, an ingratiating approach that does justice to Hicks’s life; the copious clips from stand-up routines do justice to the work. (plays SIFF 6/10, 6/12)

Movie Diary 5/11/2010

Farewell (Christian Carion, 2009). Well-measured spy-movie stuff, with the bonus of Emir Kusturica as a Moscow official feeding info to the West in the early 1980s. (Seattle International Film Festival screenings 5/29, 5/31, 6/12)

The Concert (Radu Mihaileanu, 2009). The French can make big, square, crowd-pleasing pictures too, as they frequently remind us. This is one of those, with Melanie Laurent (of Inglourious Basterds) in support to many cute things. (SIFF screenings 5/21, 5/23, 5/28)

Robin Hood (Ridley Scott, 2010). Quite a few things to like about this one, but a stray observation: an extraordinary number of people in the nifty cast resemble Ridley Scott – small eyes, small nose, bluff manner. Check it out. (full review 5/14)