Saturday, January 31, 2015

All the Light in the Sky (2012) ***

Thoughtful look at how we deal with the passing of time personally, as a culture, as a species in the perceptions of a contemporary actress who has reached an age when the parts are not so forthcoming. Well shot in a gorgeous location with appealing leads and an intelligent and subtle "script" although it seems like a complete improv.

The Two Faces of January (2014) ***

A vacation in Greece in 1962 turns into a twisty noir with familial subtexts. Beautiful scenery, beautiful actors, sharply paced and well shot.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Is Warner a first-ballot Hall of Famer? : Sports

“'What solidified his Hall of Fame career ... is when he went to Arizona and took that organization to a Super Bowl,'” Faulk said."

Most definitely. Plus there's this spectacular conference championship game that might never be topped.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Julia (1977) ***

A thin thread of a story (apparently fictional) but the film is engrossing and thoughtful. A fine script, direction and good cast all turn in top notch work.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

San Francisco priest bars altar girls, sparks another controversy | National Catholic Reporter

"The first, he said, is that 'boys usually end up losing interest [in altar service] because girls generally do a better job.'

"The second and more important reason, Illo said, is that 'altar service is intrinsically tied to the priesthood and serve as feeder programs for the seminary.'

"'If the Catholic Church ordained women, altar girls would make sense, but the Catholic priesthood is a male charism,' he said. 'Nothing awakens a desire for the priesthood like service at the altar among the brotherhood of young men. At the risk of generalizing, I suspect young men serving with young women might just distract them from the sacrifice of the Mass, and perhaps even from a priestly vocation.'"

Against stupidity the very gods themselves contend in vain.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Dangerous Crossing (1953) **

Slick studio noir suffers from a lack of star power in the leads, but it's a fast paced closed box yarn (all the action takes place on a cruise ship) with some interesting scenes.

The Great Silence (1968) **

Snowy spaghetti western suffers from a horrible dub job, but is watchable for its cinematography, the lovely Vonetta McGee, and an ending that actually follows the logic of the bleak and despairing story.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Election (1999) ****

Sharp, merciless satire is perfectly cast and perfectly executed. Hilarious and profoundly sad often at the same time. Brilliant film.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Paul Thomas Anderson Reveals the Secrets of 'Inherent Vice' | Rolling Stone

"You can go big, or you can just do a lot of close-ups.

"There are a lot of close-ups in Inherent Vice, aren't there? It wasn't by design, but right here [holds hand in front of his face] always seemed to be the best place to be. You know, a lot of these locations, there's not much else to look at. They're kind of dingy little motel rooms and apartments and stuff, so. . . . Plus, what's better than a Jena Malone close-up? Not much. Pretty high on the list of great things."

I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he's joking. I mean, he HAS to be joking, right? "Not much else to look at"??? Isn't that YOUR job pal?

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Edge of Tomorrow (2014) ***

Effective mashup of Groundhog Day and Aliens unfortunately goes for the Hollywood ending when they had a terrific, poignant and meaningful one already. It's still a great ride to get there and Cruise's best picture in years.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

George Lucas details plans to make, but not release, two new films | Hero Complex – movies, comics, pop culture – Los Angeles Times

“'The way [the films] are, they’re not really movies that can be released,' Lucas said of his upcoming projects during a recent phone call from New York City, where he was promoting 'Strange Magic.' 'They’re movies more for myself and maybe I’ll show them to some of my friends.

“'It costs more to put them out there than it does to make ‘em,' he continued. 'These are movies that are never going to make any money or anything.'”

Whatever happened to George Lucas? I mean, how did he become such an idiot? If anything, it is EASIER to distribute a film nowadays than ever before. What he is talking about is major studio distribution which is essentially marketing and so riddled with bloat and corruption. But with a little imagination and effort, films can be distributed directly to theatres quite easily since they're all digital now. I don't think European filmmakers have the same concerns.

Foxcatcher (2014) **

Another in the despicable "based on a true story" genre that changes those true events to fit "the requirements of narrative". Aside from that the film is too long and drawn out but features 3 transformative lead performances that are all excellent and worth seeing.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Inherent Vice (2014) *

Apparently you are either on this film's wavelength or you're not. I was not. I could not make sense of the plot, and that's not always necessary, but it is necessary that it appears as though the plot (or whatever the protagonist is doing) makes SOME sort of logical sense even if that logic only exists in the film's world. Otherwise, unless the actors/characters are especially charismatic (not in this case), the viewer tends not to care. Plus I don't like films that are almost exclusively shot in closeups.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Sunset Blvd. (1950) ****

Deliciously creepy smack down of behind-the-scenes Hollywood. Iconic performances by Swanson and von Stroheim and a script that still surprises 60+ years later.

Friday, January 09, 2015

Australian actor Rod Taylor dead at 84: Legendary star suffers a heart attack at LA home |

“I couldn’t live without it. And I don’t do it just for money. I love it. It is an honorable art. I am proud to be an actor. I pray and try every day to be a better actor. ... I am a poor student sitting at the feet of giants, yearning for their wisdom and begging for lessons that might one day make me a complete artist, so that if all goes well, I may one day sit beside them.”

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Young & Beautiful (2013) ***

Subtle and direct at the same time is a tough trick to pull off but Ozon manages it. Beautifully shot with beautiful women.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Cardinal Raymond Burke: 'Feminized' church and altar girls caused priest shortage | National Catholic Reporter

"'Apart from the priest, the sanctuary has become full of women,' he said. 'The activities in the parish and even the liturgy have been influenced by women and have become so feminine in many places that men do not want to get involved.

"Burke, a liturgical traditionalist and a doctrinal conservative, also said that 'men need to dress and act like men in a way that is respectful to themselves, to women and to children.'"

Wow. Read the whole thing. There's lots more incredible quotes. Sit down before you do though. Can Francis take away Burke's zucchetto? Please?

Oscar Films & the Prison of Historical Accuracy -- Vulture

"Because, surprise! These movies are not documentaries, nor are they acts of journalism. (And even documentaries don’t always need to be totally accurate — just ask Werner Herzog.) They’re narrative works, and just like any other narrative work, they need to be true to themselves — to the demands of drama, to the demands of (yes) entertainment, and even to the demands of the broader truths they’re trying to evoke."

If that is the case it is quite simple to just change the names of the people involved and don't make the claim "Based on true events" because the ONLY reason a film does that is to fool the prospective viewer into believing she will see THE TRUE EVENTS! It is wrong.

Murder, My Sweet (1944) **

The crackling Raymond Chandler dialogue is all there, the femme fatales, the confusing plot lines, the shady moral landscape, the elusive MacGuffin, but Dick Powell is no Bogie and Anne Shirley is no Bacall. Dull.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

The Loved One (1965) ***

Outrageous, bizarre, creepy and very funny satire on Hollywood and the high end funeral business. Beautifully shot in black and white with terrific performances from Jonathan Winters and Rod Steiger who nearly steals the show as Mr. Joyboy. Too bad the film is nearly sunk by the complete miscasting of Robert Morse in the lead. Thousands of able British actors and you have to cast a guy who can't even fake an accent? Really detracts from the overall effect.

Monday, January 05, 2015

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) **

Silly, colorful, crammed to the gills with CGI, this comic book flick at least has a good retro soundtrack to listen to as you try to decipher just what is happening in the nearly non-stop action sequences.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

The One I Love (2014) ***

Nicely executed extended Twilight Zone episode is subtle and truthful. Well acted and cast.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Hot Tub Time Machine (2010) ***

Way better than it should be, fast paced, appropriately silly riff on BTTF with a manic, hilarious performance by Rob Corddry.

2014 In Review: Movies

**** Birdman
**** The Grand Budapest Hotel
*** A Most Wanted Man
*** The Box Trolls
*** The Double
*** Ida
*** Non-Stop
*** Under The Skin
** Big Eyes
** Interstellar
** The Lego Movie
** Life Itself
** Lucy
** Magic In The Moonlight
** Noah
** St. Vincent
** The Wind Rises
* The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
* The Monuments Men
* The Quiet Ones

Big Eyes (2014) **

Pretty dull, straightforward biopic hardly identifiable as a Tim Burton movie. Interesting but un-involving.

Zelig (1983) **

Droll curiosity, quite a technical achievement but not particularly memorable.