Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Power of Two - The Atlantic

"As long as John and Paul were both alive, the possibility remained that they might remarry. According to Linda McCartney, during the 1970s Paul was 'desperate to work with John again.' John retreated from music in the second half of the decade, but in 1980 he and Yoko released Double Fantasy. He was murdered on December 8, 1980. Had he lived, who knows what might have happened? Jack Douglas, who produced Double Fantasy, said that John was actively planning to team up with Paul the following year."

The article is mainly a straw man diatribe ("the myth of the lone genius" is a thing?) and it is also guilty of the same facile compartmentalization of people the author accuses others of doing. Still it's tempting to consider what might have been in 1981...

via @TomIfNotThen

Monday, July 28, 2014

Lucy (2014) **

The in-your-face allegories (cheetahs stalking prey/innocent girl delivering a package) and faux-science expositions ad nauseum (completely unnecessary Morgan Freeman) waste the terrific presence of Scarlett Johansson. You can't expect close-ups to do ALL the work of engaging the audience. It's colorful and moves quickly (90 minutes thank you!) but the ideas are trite and the technique does not work.

Castle Keep (1969) **

Ambitiously eccentric WWII flick slips over into pretentiousness too often. Beautifully shot though.

Non-Stop (2014) ***

Pretty effective mash-up of airport disaster flicks and whodunits strains credulity to the max yet still delivers the thrills.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011) *

One of those very dimly shot films necessitated by an overabundance of CGI effects. The first hour feels like 2 but then it picks up a bit but not enough to save it. Very silly and nonsensical with a waste of some good actors.

Simply Do it: Talking with Woody Allen About Directorial Style | Interviews | Roger Ebert

"When I see cool films, no matter how beautiful they are, there's something off-putting about them. I have all my characters—or 99% of the characters—dress in autumnal clothes, beiges, and browns, and yellows, and greens. And I have [production designer and long-time collaborator] Snato Loquasto make the sets look as warm as possible. And I like the lighting to be very warm, and I color-correct things so that they're very red.

"Sometimes, the cameraman will be shocked. Sven Nykvist said 'My God, their faces will all look like tomatoes!'

"And I said 'Well, let's try it.' He got to like it.

"And when Darius was color-correcting 'Midnight In Paris,' we went all out and made it red, red, red in color-correction. It makes it like a Matisse. Matisse said that he wanted his paintings to be a nice easy chair that you sit down in, and enjoy. I feel the same way: I want you to sit back, relax, and enjoy the warm color, like take a bath in warm color. It's like how I play the clarinet with a big, fat warm tone as opposed to a cool sound that's more liquid, or fluid. I prefer a thicker, richer, warmer sound. The same with color; I feel it has a subliminal effect on the viewer in a positive way."

Under the Skin (2013) ***

Tells its tale cinematically with original, arresting visuals and a terrific Scarlett Johansson performance.

In the House (2012) **

Well made intellectual exercise never gets beyond just that.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Five Easy Pieces (1970) ***

Offbeat and quirky character study of an extremely self-centered and misanthropic individual. Ok, he's an asshole basically. Very well shot and written with several iconic scenes. Always interesting, sometimes cringe inducing, sometimes silly. The kind of American film that doesn't get made much any more.

Perfect Sense (2011) **

It appears to be a failed attempt at a rom-com/dystopia hybrid. Not sure what it's supposed to mean but the two leads are appealing and it moves well.

The Lego Movie (2014) **

Could have been a very good movie but the creators just couldn't resist shoving every last shred of magic and wonder down our throats in a ruinous denouement that makes Spielberg look like Alain Resnais. Some nice voice work, clever animation.

Ethan Hawke's Heartwarming Tribute To A "Boyhood" With Music

"There’s this thing that happens when you listen to too much of the solo stuff separately — too much Lennon: suddenly there’s a little too much self-involvement in the room; too much Paul and it can become sentimental — let’s face it, borderline goofy; too much George: I mean, we all have our spiritual side but it’s only interesting for about six minutes, ya know? Ringo: He’s funny, irreverent, and cool, but he can’t sing — he had a bunch of hits in the ’70s (even more than Lennon) but you aren’t gonna go home and crank up a Ringo Starr album start to finish, you’re just not gonna do that."

Yet another reason to dislike Ethan Hawke. I can't imagine having such an insufferably pretentious father. Now excuse me while I go and "crank up" Time Takes Time.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Blue Is the Warmest Color (2013) ***

This chronicle of a young woman's first coup de foudre experience from start to finish is one of the few 3 hour movies to not feel overlong, thanks to good editing and a sensational performance by Adèle Exarchopoulos.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Months before their first words, babies’ brains rehearse speech mechanics | UW Today

“'Most babies babble by 7 months, but don’t utter their first words until after their first birthdays,' said lead author Patricia Kuhl, who is the co-director of the UW’s Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences. 'Finding activation in motor areas of the brain when infants are simply listening is significant, because it means the baby brain is engaged in trying to talk back right from the start and suggests that 7-month-olds’ brains are already trying to figure out how to make the right movements that will produce words.'”

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Life Itself (2014) **

Fairly straightforward documentary about the life of Roger Ebert but mainly about the final days and as such it is tough to take at times. Not exactly entertaining but informative and at times poignant.