Good points, well put.
Good points, well put.
2018.12.20 // Filed under: Screen
A fallow couple of months recorded here, owing to work busyness and lots of late shifts. And only one particularly standout showing in the lot. I can do better than this. More…
I liked Robert Redford’s cinematic swan-song just fine, no more and no less. You can read why above or on Medium.
This movie was much more interesting to read about than it was fun to watch. Also: I have vague recollections of seeing Get A Life that might be phantom memories; was it ever shown on Irish/British TV in the Nineties?
This is very niche, but my kind of niche.
2018.10.11 // Filed under: Screen
Those weird few months I was talking about meant a significant drop-off in my movie watching habits. That goes for press screenings, too. I was only able to make it to a handful of those, and review (in long form, at least) even fewer (Leave No Trace is great; Incredibles 2 not so much). More…
It’s more of an essay about the tarnishing of Pixar’s reputation, if I’m honest. You can read what I wrote at Thumped or on Medium.
Debra Granik’s follow-up to Winter’s Bone lights on similar themes but from a very different angle. Read my review at Thumped or on Medium.
A useful summary of that other big screenwriting book (the first one being Robert McKee’s Story, which I’ve had for decades but never finished).
2018.06.09 // Filed under: Screen
I always talk about films I have watched, so let me tell you about a couple I didn’t watch, bailing after the first few minutes of each. More…
A fantastic repository for would-be screenwriters or anyone interested in the making of film.
He’s really done it all, hasn’t he?
I just like the parts where his eyes bug and he shouts a lot, if I’m honest. [c/o LinkMachineGo]
A weighty story but a feast for the senses, The Breadwinner is one of the year’s finest films thus far. See it in cinemas around Ireland and the UK (and on Netflix in the US). And read my review, also on Medium.
Here's a nice look back at Mad Max 2 from the Red Letter Media guys (even though they prefer Fury Road, or don't mention Waterworld even once) and one that makes me want to reappraise a film I only gave two-and-a-half stars on my last watch a few years ago.
To keep track of what I still need to see. I watched quite a few of the initial series of 30 for 30 last summer; I can watch a good documentary about sport (or anything, really) any day.
2018.05.07 // Filed under: Screen
I tried to make up for not watching any films in the first two weeks of April by watching seven over the latter half. And five of them involved actual trips to the cinema: one a press screening in Dublin, one at the fleapit down the road, one in the basement of the local arts centre (a regional screening as part of the Japanese Film Festival), and a double-bill at the IFI. My pick of the month is one I won’t be reviewing till later in May, but my thoughts on the rest are below. More…
“The use of poisonous mushrooms isn’t about women playing some zero-sum game with controlling men. What the trope really does is prompt viewers to consider what female agency can look like in situations that are overwhelmingly shaped by sexism—and it’s not a pretty sight. The women mimic the language of violence articulated by the men in their lives, in one of the only ways available to them. Unable to emancipate themselves fully from the trappings of their gender roles, their only recourse is to do harm before they suffer further. In one of the last scenes of Lady Macbeth, when Katherine implicates her lover and maid in the murder of a child, her face is eerily impassive, mirroring the expression of her husband early in the film when he regards her with cruel indifference. In that moment, they are one and the same.” I did not like Lady Macbeth, but that quote gets at what the story really is.
One hour and 37 minutes on the production of one of the finest movies of the 1980s. (Provided it isn’t DMCAed by the time you read this.)
Key quote here: “…minimising the window between the premiere and the global release date is a way of controlling and minimising discourse. If critics are not allowed to reveal even the most trivial details, they cannot engage with the material in any meaningful way.”
I’m pained by the notion that Studio Ghibli is considered a genre unto itself, let alone anime as a whole. (It’s a medium, not a genre!) But gripes aside, this is a fine list for the uninitiated, with a spread that spans drama, action, romance and more avant storytelling.
I made a list on Letterboxd of 30 Shaw Brothers films restored via the American Genre Film Archive for theatrical release in the US this year, just for my own future reference but it may come in handy for you. (By the way, it’s dead easy to make lists on Letterboxd; this one took me all of five minutes.)
A short documentary about an incredible trove of letterpress blocks for movie advertisements dating from the early 1980s to before the Talkie era, happened upon by chance by two friends antiquing in Nebraska. It really makes stark what might be lost in the move from the tangible to the digital in media. [c/o Kottke.org]
2018.04.13 // Filed under: Screen
And I thought my February in movies was bad: only seven films watched in March. Not even two a week. And April isn’t looking much better, considering almost half the month has gone by and I haven’t seen a single movie. Quality, not quantity, I keep telling myself, even when the results don’t always bear that out. More…
The former Brat Pack star evaluates the John Hughes films that made her name some 30 years on, considering them from the angles of changing social mores, her own motherhood, and her growth as a person. Justifiably celebrated.
Lindsay Ellis’ video essay on why Bright doesn’t work is worth your time.
‘Recognition memory’ might explain how I can always rewatch stuff like TNG and DS9, forgetting where most of the plots go till I’ve naturally caught up with the final act. (I’m not a big re-reader of books, so TV/film is my reference point.) [c/o Phil Gyford]
Turns out, he got old, then found a new direction. “It’s so cool to see leading men become great character actors later in their career,” says a producer quoted here; indeed it is, and Fraser comes across as such an intelligent, sensitive and likeable guy in this GQ profile, that I’m quite looking forward to watching him in Trust now.
An epic blog post on the making of a film I still can’t watch, it’s that visceral to me.
“The plot is stripped to the bone, and it’s all in the execution” of what's easily the best new film I’ve seen in months. Also on Medium.
2018.03.02 // Filed under: Screen
February’s a short month as it is, but nine films over four weeks is a low batting average. One of those was a repeat viewing, two others I reviewed over at Thumped, and I’m writing up one more over the weekend, or perhaps early next week. The rest you can find below. More…
My take on this lurid but tedious spy drama, another miss for J-Law, plus a few words on the even worse Sky animation Monster Family. Also on Medium.
It’s amazing to me how many people took this article as a personal attack when it’s really about ‘Armie Hammer’ the carefully crafted phenomenon, not necessarily a judgement of the person. I mean, there’s no doubt he’s one of a long line of white male Hollywood stars who’ve benefitted from the privilege that gives them the chances so often denied to others, whether through unconscious bias or Weinstein-esque bad faith acting.
2018.02.15 // Filed under: Screen
Late with my monthnotes, and late with my Letterboxd reviews as well. Since we’re well into the new year by now, I’m overdue in noting that I logged 171 viewings over the course of 2017, which is about 50 more than I managed the previous year.
Even accounting for the fact that some were shorter (circa 1 hr) documentaries, that’s still a better than average showing. Mind you, I didn’t write as many full-length reviews as I have in previous years, but it surely indicates I was watching more for my own enjoyment and/or edification. (That also classifies as CPD as far as I’m concerned.) More…
So much of T2 absolutely holds up today because of the vision and pride of everyone involved — something noticeably lacking from much CG in movies today, nearly three decades and countless incredible advances in technology later. [c/o Interconnected]
I wasn’t enthralled by Guillermo del Toro’s fishy romantic fantasy, but can’t ignore the good work by Sally Hawkins and Michael Shannon. (Also on Medium).
A24 responds to viewers’ complaints about the treatment of dogs in its films. (The complainers, they’re not wrong.)
Spielberg’s spiritual prequel to All The President’s Men is flawed, but a better bet than Old Man Neeson’s latest one-man-army caper.
This barbed black comedy from playwright and filmmaker Martin McDonagh was a bit too detached for my liking.
First film review of 2018 is up, on Thumped.com and on Medium.
This classic needs another rewatch, stat. [c/o LinkMachineGo]
Hold those other, glowing reviews you're bound to see with suspicion, as the latest entry in the Star Wars saga is a middling dud. Maybe if some people could step outside their fandom bubble for a minute...
2017.12.05 // Filed under: Screen
Another few weeks of genre-hopping, thanks to a free month of Shudder that I ended up letting lapse as I couldn’t find much of anything I wanted to watch. So it goes.
But it was also a month that included one of my favourite films of the year. Shame it bypassed cinemas and went straight to Netflix. The new straight to video? I sure hope not.
Obviously Netflix is better than that, but there is a clear sense that it serves serialised ‘prestige’ TV much better than first-run feature films. And I get the feeling even Netflix’s honchos recognise this, going by all the promos I’m seeing for Bright (which isn’t out till the end of this month). More…
An interview with the other half of Studio Ghibli, about his most recent film, a beautiful and heartbreaking masterpiece which is definitely one of my favourites of the decade. And from a director who so matter-of-factly states: “I don’t really draw myself, I’m not an artist.”
Plus a few words on George Clooney's Suburbicon, which also opens tomorrow.
I have quibbles with this list. Billy Wilder made funnier films than Some Like It Hot, for one, and in general the selection is top heavy with the kinds of films one might feel they ought to rate. But shuffle the deck, cutting out the Woody Allens (Annie Hall excepted, they’re simply not funny — I mean, besides the obvious), and maybe sequestering the early-20th-century works, and you’ve got yourself a decent pot luck.
Well, that’s one way of looking at it.
2017.11.12 // Filed under: Screen
October’s viewing was a mixed bag: a handful of cinema trips, one of them a press show (for Brawl in Cell Block 99, as previously linked); a few dips into Netflix and other streaming services; genres all over the place; and one classic rewatch that stands the test of time. More…
Here’s a good essay from over the summer about an underrated actor, and person, that should get a re-up in this ‘post-Weinstein world’. It highlights how much the system is set against women who try to buck it (and how much it goes out of its way to conform to men who do the same, or worse).