Friday, May 30, 2014

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) ****

Brilliant on all counts.

Gattaca (1997) **

Cold and uninvolving with a great supporting cast, nice production values and a very weak lead.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013) **

The film is beautifully shot but feels wildly overdone and the slight story cannot bear the burden.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Stress Test: The Indictment of Timothy Geithner | Op-Eds & Columns

"The reality is that we had a completely preventable economic disaster hit the country. The result was millions of people losing their homes and/or their jobs, in many cases seeing their lives and the lives of their children ruined. With almost no exceptions the policy makers responsible for the disaster and the bankers who profited from it are doing just fine. And Timothy Geithner can’t understand why everybody isn’t happy."

Monday, May 26, 2014

Jane Eyre (1943) **

This is the version with Orson Welles as Rochester. The acting is very uneven with a wonderful 11 year old Peggy Ann Gardner stealing the picture. The first half is very good, as most Jane Eyre adaptations are, but once Joan Fontaine gets involved things go down hill quickly. It seems the TV versions of this crazy story have been the most successful. This one is very good but if forced to choose, I'm partial to this.

Damsels in Distress (2011) **

Whit Stillman's films are worlds unto themselves and this one is no exception. An appealing cast, literate script, excellently shot, but overall it fails to gel into something more than a Stillman lark.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Richard Pryor Live on the Sunset Strip (1982) **

Embarrassingly staged and filmed, this is Pryor near the end of his stand-up career and it shows a bit. Still, he can bring the laughs and improvise impressively with a memorable "last time anywhere" appearance by Mudbone.

Broadcast News (1987) **

If you can get past the straining-to-be-cute opening (which should have been cut), the film is as deluded, pretentious, self-righteous and annoying as its main characters. Holly Hunter is a great character actress not a romantic lead.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Like Someone in Love (2012) **

Opens with a great sequence of pure cinema but the film doesn't really end so much as stops leaving viewers in the lurch.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Valkyrie (2008) **

Clichéd and melodramatic with zero thrills since we know the outcome of the story. Un-imaginative direction to say the least. Why must all the "good" Germans be played by Englishmen or Americans?

Fantastic Voyage (1966) ***

Loads of cheesy fun mainly due to the dated political and social mores as presented. The film works though due to the no-nonsense approach to the story and it's treatment as actual, possible science. Smartly paced, colorfully designed.

Margot at the Wedding (2007) **

Bleak, black comedy about a supremely antisocial woman and her effect on people. Hard to watch and not all that insightful due to the extremes of behavior presented.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 (2013) *

Only for those 10 and under. Imaginative "food-imals", but it's all very confusing and nonsensical.

Point Blank (1967) **

Hard boiled, existential mid-60's noir proves you can't beat The System. It's well made, just not enough of a standout. Effective use of Fort Point is a highlight.

What came before the big bang? - Boing Boing

"Translated into statements about the real universe, I am describing an origin in which space itself comes into existence at the big bang and expands from nothing to form a larger and larger volume. The matter and energy content of the universe likewise originates at or near the beginning, and populates the universe everywhere at all times. Again, I must stress that the speck from which space emerges is not located in anything. It is not an object surrounded by emptiness. It is the origin of space itself, infinitely compressed. Note that the speck does not sit there for an infinite duration. It appears instantaneously from nothing and immediately expands. This is why the question of why it does not collapse to a black hole is irrelevant. Indeed, according to the theory of relativity, there is no possibility of the speck existing through time because time itself begins at this point."

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Adaptation. (2002) ****

Audacious, original, hilarious, true. Nic Cage has never been better.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Witness to Murder (1954) **

Fairly run of the mill noir kept interesting by the alarming abuse of police authority in the pre-Miranda days, especially when brought to bear upon a "career" woman of a certain age. This has nothing to do with the plot nor is it presented as a subplot, it's just shown as a matter-of-fact aspect of American life in the '50's.

A Countess from Hong Kong (1967) *

Sophia Loren playing a Russian is the least of this overblown screwball comedy wanna-be's problems. The stars have no chemistry, the elaborately set up "jokes" fall flat, and the film is shot as if it is an epic drama on huge sound stages.

Eraserhead (1977) ****

Possible alternate title "Inside David Lynch" or at least his nightmares. A complete, disturbed vision with an amazing sound design.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Wild at Heart (1990) **

Even when he's not entirely successful, David Lynch is always interesting. At once inscrutable and overbearing, and the repetition of images does not help. The actors help out as much as they can, giving consistent over-the-top performances, but it never gels the way the best of Lynch can.

Klimt (2006) **

It worked here but John Malkovich playing himself in this film does not. A plethora of beautiful young ladies in various states of undress helps to maintain interest.

Secret Window (2004) ***

An exceptional cast overcomes a flawed script and pedestrian direction in this effective thriller. We've seen John Turturro's character before though.

Friday, May 02, 2014

An Unmarried Woman (1978) ***

Realistic portrayal of an upper middle class white woman with a fantastic Upper East Side Manhattan apartment coping with divorce. Nice time capsule of 70's NYC, intelligently written and played with a tour de force performance by Ms. Clayburgh.

William Friedkin on Sorcerer, his career, and fate / The Dissolve

"'I felt that the story embodied in The Wages Of Fear, the French novel and the film, fit that template very clearly...because I thought it was timeless. I had no interest in doing a remake or a shot-for-shot or anything like that, but I love the premise, the essential premise of four strangers who mostly didn’t like one another, delivering a load of dynamite, and they either had to cooperate or die. And that seemed to me like a metaphor for the world situation—even more so today.'"