Monday, March 30, 2015

Still Life (2006) *

Incoherence, intentionally or not, is a tough sell in a film. You need a charismatic star, extremely breathtaking cinematography, art direction and maybe all 3. This film has none.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011) **

Very well crafted film, good pacing, never felt too long, interesting art direction, fine actors. However, I was very familiar with the source material so that probably influences my opinion regarding the tempo and understand-ability of the complicated plot. Oldman is a liability in that he plays Smiley as fairly comatose and I never got the feeling he was a real person.

Bottling water without scrutiny

Even with California deep in drought, the federal agency hasn't assessed the impacts of the bottled water business on springs and streams in two watersheds that sustain sensitive habitats in the national forest. The lack of oversight is symptomatic of a Forest Service limited by tight budgets and focused on other issues, and of a regulatory system in California that allows the bottled water industry to operate with little independent tracking of the potential toll on the environment.

It seems incredible that the state IS tracking residential water use, and rightfully so, yet corporations' water usage is not?

Friday, March 27, 2015

Cosmopolis (2012) **

Interesting premise that starts well but peters out quickly despite some knockout star cameos especially Juliette Binoche. The actors are fine but the approach is too laid back for such a thin thread of a story.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Parents ask S.F. Archdiocese to remove school’s leaders - SFGate

Illo, who also didn’t speak during the hour-and-a-half meeting, said afterward that it’s a difficult situation and acknowledged that there is a lot of tension and anxiety between himself and the school parents. He said there have been misunderstandings, but now he’ll leave it to the archbishop to decide what happens next.
“It was a good forum,” Illo said. “It’s important to hear their perspective.”

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

'Yoga Pants are Ruining Women' and Other Style Advice From Fran Lebowitz

To me, the main difference between young people now and the people I was young with isn't so much style, it's the relationships they have with their parents. Their parents like them much more than ours liked us. Our parents weren't our friends. They disapproved of us. All our parents cared about was how we behaved, not how we felt, not what we wanted. But now I see my friends on the phones with their, what, 30-year-old kids? And they're talking about feelings. You would think this kind of relationship would make this adult children more relaxed, but instead they're more concerned. Parent-child relationships have become so collegiate. And so when these grown children go into the world, they expect a certain amount of attention. And they're very disappointed.

Kenneth Branagh "Hopeful" About Martin Scorsese Macbeth

Speaking about the possible Scorsese movie, Branagh revealed, “To some extent the invitation is for the maestro to do what he will with this, to be very impressionistic with it and very abstract.” That should help set it apart from the many other Macbeth adaptations that have hit stage and screen over the centuries — including one due out this year, with Justin Kurzel directing and Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard starring.

Monday, March 23, 2015

House of Strangers (1949) *

Bizarre saga of deranged Sicilian patriarch and his equally deranged offspring. Any resemblance to actual human beings is purely coincidental and minimal. A few nicely done tracking shots and Edward G. does a nice job.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Pickpocket (1959) *

A blank slate of a film, in which the actors give non-performances and the viewer supplies the emotion and motivation. This makes for an interesting movie but not an engaging or enjoyable one.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Clint Eastwood Describes His Near-Death Experience, Says 'American Sniper' Is Anti-War (Exclusive) - Hollywood Reporter

EASTWOOD: I did. Apocalypse Now, they… [Francis Ford] Coppola called me up and asked me if I wanted to do the young guy I think later played by Martin Sheen. And asked me if I wanted to play that and I said gee, I don't know I don’t understand this show too much. I did read Heart of Darkness when I was young and so I kind of knew where it was going but then I said no, I don’t think I can go off for that long a time. He was going to go 16 weeks in the Philippines. And then Steve McQueen called me and he says why don’t you come on and you come on and play this role? I said I thought you were going to play that role because I'd read somewhere that he was going to play.

EASTWOOD: He said no, no, he said I want to play the Kurtz role that [Marlon] Brando ended up playing. And I said well why do you want to play that? He says well, I get the same money but I only have to work two weeks. [LAUGHTER] I said well you've figured it out. I said I don't know about going to the Philippines and there’s a lot of unknown factors maybe over there and I'd just gotten through building a house and everything and I thought no I don’t want to go away that long.

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Big Combo (1955) *

Every cliche in the noir book is tried and found wanting in this bad but earnest flick. If the cinematography or acting or SOMETHING was exceptional it might have worked but this is very poorly written.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Biutiful (2010) **

Javier Bardem carries the picture as best he can but it's ultimately not enough despite some exceptional moments. Too long and too unrelentingly bleak, even if that is the point, to be entertaining or enjoyable.

Friday, March 13, 2015

A Doll's House (1973) ***

Top notch cast brings the classic Ibsen play to life. Doesn't look or feel like a filmed play, but some of the actors are disconcertingly old for their parts.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Fargo (1996) ****

Perfectly crafted combination noir and character study hits just the right tones using all the keys. Tremendous pacing, pitch perfect performances, nifty combination of subtlety and overt violence.

Monday, March 09, 2015

The Tale of The Princess Kaguya (2013) ****

Exquisitely and imaginatively animated Japanese folk tale shows Disney a thing or two about adapting "fairy tales" for the screen and intentionally or not blows away all their "Princess" movies. The impact of the final reel is profound.

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Marlene (1984) **

Interesting document of how to make a film documentary about an individual who does not want to be photographed. Marlene Dietrich tries very hard not to reveal her true self but in her non-comments, denials and protestations as well as the subtle cinematic tricks of director Maximilian Schell we get a glimpse here and there.

Friday, March 06, 2015

Thérèse (2012) **

The difficulty of making a story which mainly takes place inside the characters' heads into compelling cinema is evident in this sumptuously filmed saga of between the wars Bordeaux families where individuality is irrelevant and only the family, and the pines, matter. It doesn't quite pull it off.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

In a World... (2013) ***

Excellent writer-director debut for comic actress Lake Bell who shows a visual flair, a solid casting sense and a way with a one liner. Fred Melamed is terrific as usual.

A Walk Among the Tombstones (2014) *

Another violent revenge noir for Liam Neeson, this one even more sadistic and gratuitously brutal than the others. Artless and ugly.

Monday, March 02, 2015

Fifty Shades of Grey (2015) **

Watchable but oddly un-erotic and un-romantic depiction of what ostensibly should be an erotic romance. Uninspired casting.

Belle (2013) **

Bland period piece depicting sexist and racist English cultural rubrics of the 18th century. Film assumes its noble purpose is all that matters.