Wednesday, November 25, 2015

On "The Assassin"

From The Dispatch:
“The Assassin” is awash in quietude, filled with lyrical long takes and quiet introspection. It is the opposite of everything audiences have come to expect from the genre. Where so many filmmakers (and, let's face it, audience members, too) take such a gung-ho approach to violence, Hou instead takes a reflective stance, moving the action away from the focus of the frame and toward the natural landscape dwarfing them. 
Click here to read my full review.

Review | "Jafar Panahi's Taxi"/"The Pearl Button"

Iranian director Jafar Panahi, barred from making films for 10 years by the Iranian government, has still managed to make three films since his imprisonment on house arrest, each more incredible than the last. In Jafar Panahi's Taxi (aka Taxi Tehran), Panahi poses as a taxi driver in the Iranian capitol of Tehran, picking up various clients, each with their own unique stories. With his trusty camera fixed to his dashboard, Panahi creates an indelible portrait of modern Iran, but perhaps even more surprising, he weaves cinematic gold out of filming himself drive a taxi around for a day.

Panahi is a master craftsman who continues to make bricks without straw, turning his punishment into some of the most essential cinema of the decade. Each film he makes is not only a thumb in the eye of tyranny, but a testament to the spirit of human creativity, and the overwhelming desire to create art even when one is barred from doing so. It's joyous, warm, funny, and moving in equal turns, finding humanity in each of his passengers and their own particular missions and world views. As one of Panahi's passengers tells him as she lays a flower by the camera - "This is for the people of cinema, because the people of cinema can always be relied on."  Yes they can, and Panahi is a living testament to the fact that tyrants can muzzle a man, but they can never silence art.

In The Pearl Button, Director Patricio Guzmán uses water as a metaphoric lens through which to tell the story of Chilean natives, whose ancient relationship with the ocean has been all but lost through systematic subjugation by colonial occupation, in a genocide that lasted well into the 20th century. Lyrical and heartbreaking, The Pearl Button is a hauntingly beautiful documentary that is both a celebration of a lost culture (only 20 direct descendants of the Patagonian natives remain), and an elegy for a forgotten genocide that is arguably one of the most ghastly in the history of the world.

Yet through Guzmán's unique lens, the history of the natives becomes a kind of ethereal reflection of the universe, irrevocably changed by colonialism and western invasion, moving through the glistening waters of the Chilean coastline like ghosts. Guzmán's placing of the natives' struggles in cosmic perspective makes the film an interesting companion piece for his previous film, Nostalgia for the Light. While the metaphor gets lost in its grandiosity at times, The Pearl Button is nevertheless a deeply moving experience, that tells a story as timeless as the sea itself.

JAFAR PANAHI'S TAXI - ★★★★ (out of four)
THE PEARL BUTTON - ★★★½ (out of four)

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Review | "The Forbidden Room"

The Forbidden Room is proof positive that the scraps from Guy Maddin's cutting room floor are better than the footage that makes it into the films of pretty much everyone else. Comprised of unused footage cobbled together from other projects, The Forbidden Room is like a trip down the rabbit hole of Maddin's singular psyche. Here he introduces us to a lost submarine crew faced with an impossible decision, a logger tasked with rescuing a maiden from a tribe of primitives, a surgeon who falls in love with his beautiful patient, only to be kidnapped by skeletal insurance defrauders, a man whose obsession with women's bottoms leads him to get a lobotomy (arguably the film's most indelible interlude), and a man who gets turned into a banana because of an ancient curse. And that's just scratching the surface of this delirious, mad, altogether beautiful work of art.

Maddin's work has always been deeply rooted in silent avant-garde, and it's great fun watching him play with the medium in so many different ways. The Forbidden Room showcases Maddin at his most experimental and playful (who else would bookends a film with an instructional video on how to take a bath?).

Each frame is a fantasia of oversaturated color, jump cuts, missing frames, and grainy, damaged footage. The film feels deteriorated, like a relic from another time. Yet there is something warm and familiar about it, even at its most alien. Maddin clearly loves film, and The Forbidden Room is a celebration of the artificiality of the medium. Nothing about it feels real, as Maddin embraces the sheer movie-ness of it. Natives dance around a papier-mâché volcano, characters walk in front of obviously painted backdrops, it embraces its fakery and uses it as a deliberate style choice rather than a crutch.

It only seems natural, given Maddin's obsession with lost films, that he would one day create a "lost" film of his own. It's surprising just how well these disparate fragments all fit together, yet they seem to create one cohesive whole. At least as cohesive as a Maddin film can be. Maddin thinks in abstracts, he makes films that you feel rather than "understand," and The Forbidden Room evokes a forgotten aesthetic that feels as if we have unearthed a buried treasure. Only Maddin could create something that looks like a relic yet feels so fresh and new. It's a tour through Maddin's favorite predilections, a darkly hilarious, thrilling, and strangely moving amalgam of some of his previously lost ideas, resurrected here with fiery new life.

GRADE - ★★★½ (out of four)

THE FORBIDDEN ROOM | Directed by Guy Maddin | Stars Charlotte Rampling, Udo Kier, Mathieu Almaric, Louis Negin | Not Rated | Now playing in select cities.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

On "Spectre"

From The Dispatch:
It's a bigger, louder, and more indulgent, leading to a somewhat bloated running time and a middle section that lags somewhat. While Mendes is clearly enjoying himself, the film almost becomes too ridiculous for its own good. On the other hand, the action set pieces are uniformly phenomenal (the opening sequence is especially outstanding), and Waltz is really the perfect Bond villain. Mendes may work a little too hard to tie all the previous Craig Bond films together, but the idea that everything we've seen before has been building up to this gives the film a kind of grandeur, even if it can't beat the elegant gut-punch that was “Skyfall.” 
Click here to read my full review.

Blu-Ray Review | "Mulholland Dr."

I was probably 14 or 15 the first time I saw David Lynch's MULHOLLAND DR. It was the first time I had been exposed to cinema that lay outside the typical narrative conventions, and I haven't been the same sense. When I think of the first decade of this century, there are three films that come to mind as the top of the pantheon of great cinema - Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood, Lars Von Trier's Dogville, and this. Revisiting the film now, 15 years older and more familiar with the world of surrealist filmmaking (and Lynch's oeuvre in general), I am still floored at the sheer power of Lynch's masterpiece.

When I first saw the film as a teen, I didn't really understand it, but I knew I had seen something special, something brilliant, something that operated on a completely different level that anything I had ever seen before. I was able to follow its mysteries of Lynch's beautiful puzzle box better than I had before.

It's a haunting, disturbing tale of doomed love, jealousy, and faded dreams in the city of light. Naomi Watts is a plucky young starlet looking to realize her dream of becoming an actress (and in the process gives one of the all time great performances). Laura Harring is a troubled amnesiac who is trying to discover her true identity after a car accident robber her of her memory. For the first two hours, we think we're watching two women search for one's identity. Then Lynch unlocks the blue box and plunges us down the rabbit hole, pulling the rug out from under us and upending everything we've already seen.

This is David Lynch's Persona, a pyscho-sexual exploration of memory and identity that is clearly the work of an artist working at the height of his creative powers. Mulholland Dr. represents a singular vision in service of a seemingly straightforward film noir, warped through Lynch's own unique psyche. Sometimes words don't quite suffice. This is a film that needs to be experienced. Lynch's films are something you feel in the pit of you stomach, in the raised hair on your arms, in the depths of your soul. This is one for the ages, and the Criterion Blu-Ray is a godsend for Lynch fans and cinephiles in general. Lynch has long been underrepresented on Blu-Ray, and having his most beautiful film in high definition is a dream. If you're looking for more answers to the film's questions you may be disappointed, as the in-depth interview with Lynch excerpted from Chris Rodley's book, Lynch on Lynch, really only serves to muddy the waters. But that's always been Lynch's intention. His films are many things to many people, and he's never been one to take that experience away from us. What we are left with a beautiful mystery, one that isn't quite as impenetrable as its reputation suggests, perhaps, but one with so many layers and questions that we may never fully answer and explore them all. It's easily one of the year's must-own discs.

GRADE - ★★★★ (out of four)

Director approved edition special features include:

  • New, restored 4K digital transfer, supervised by director David Lynch and director of photography Peter Deming, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray 
  • New interviews with Lynch; Deming; actors Naomi Watts, Justin Theroux, and Laura Harring; composer Angelo Badalamenti; production designer Jack Fisk; and casting director Johanna Ray On-set footage 
  • Deleted scene 
  • Trailer 
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring an interview with Lynch from the 2005 edition of filmmaker and writer Chris Rodley’s book Lynch on Lynch

Review | "He Named Me Malala"

Malala Yousefzai is perhaps one of the most inspirational figures of the decade. The girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban for daring to pursue an education, and went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize for her work on behalf of girls and women everywhere, remains a compelling and magnetic figure. She is a true hero, a symbol of peaceful resistance against tyranny who has been an inspiration to millions of people around the world.

It's a shame, then, that Davis Guggenheim's bland documentary celebrating her feels like such a lifeless and obligatory affair. Guggenheim, who is best known for directing Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth (for which he won an Oscar), works best when allows his subjects just to be themselves. Gore showed a passion and a charisma in An Inconvenient Truth that somehow eluded him during the presidential election in 2000. In He Named Me Malala, the girl who has become a modern day saint gets to be just a normal girl, giggling over girlhood crushes on the internet, complaining about homework, teasing her brothers.

That's the film's real charm, I think, is that takes an internationally lionized figure and humanizes, hammering home the idea of a normal girl being made great by being thrust into extraordinary circumstances. William Shakespeare once said "Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them." Malala is clearly the latter, a girl who just wanted to go to school in a place where it is forbidden for girls to do so, and she was shot for her efforts. Yet like a phoenix from the ashes, Malala arose to fight back against oppression.

Guggenheim tries desperately to paint her as the former - one who was born great. And that may very well be true, Malala is clearly an extraordinary human being. But the film spends so much time trying to connect the modern day Malala to the Malala of Afghan legend, that it almost misses the point of what makes her so extraordinary to begin with. It is her very ordinariness that makes her so incredible. When Guggenheim gets out of the way and lets Malala be Malala, the film soars. Yet when he steps in her way, trying to hammer home points she has already so eloquently made, the film becomes maudlin, and routine, going through the sentimental, hagiographic motions instead of creating an interesting portrait of one of the most fascinating and inspirational figures of the 21st century. Unfortunately, animated flourishes can't really cover up the fact that the film feels more like an extended advertisement for Malala the Brand rather than Malala the Person.  Personally, I could sit and listen to Malala talk for hours. I think she's an incredible, beautiful spirit. Her capacity to forgive, to fight for what is right, and above all, to learn, is truly inspirational. That's why it's so disappointing to see her saddled with such a perfunctory, trite, and gushing tribute that barely scratches the surface of this remarkable woman.

GRADE - ★★ (out of four)

HE NAMED ME MALALA | Directed by Davis Guggenheim | Rated PG-13 for thematic elements involving disturbing images and threats | Now playing in select theaters.

Friday, November 06, 2015

Blu-Ray Review | "Diary of a Lost Girl"

Has there ever been a movie star with the same luminosity as Louise Brooks? Her darkly seductive features make up the expressive core of G.W. Pabst's 1929 silent masterpiece, Diary of a Lost Girl, a tragic tale of a young woman who is sent off to boarding school after becoming pregnant out of wedlock. After escaping boarding school to find her child, she ends up working as a high class prostitute before returning to upend the society that shunned her.

Brooks is perhaps best known for her role in Pabst's previous film, Pandora's Box, but her work here is somehow more subtle and more heartbreaking. Brooks plays the vamp well, but here she nails the innocence of young Thymian, making her fall from grace all the more tragic. Even after she becomes a fallen woman, Brooks never really plays the sexpot, instead, she plays the heartbreak at her core. Pabst isn't exploiting Brooks for her looks (although promotional materials from the time reveal Brooks with her nipples peeking out from her dress), he's exploring the pain and heartbreak beneath the surface of an exploited woman.

One could even make an argument that Pabst was an early feminist filmmaker, critiquing the patriarchal world that forced Thymian into this life - done wrong by the men in her life and forced into a life of sexual slavery. Eventually, she returns to upend the very society that nearly destroyed her, and she does so under her own power. Thymian's agency is remarkable, especially for 1959, and it's a curious thing that this film is 86 years old and still feels lightyears ahead of many modern films in terms of its portrayal of women.

One of the things that makes the film so striking today is just how startlingly contemporary it feels. Pabst's fluid camera movements, the lingering close-ups, the masterful compositions, it's a gorgeous film. Based on the novel by Margarete Böhme, the DNA of Diary of a Lost Girl is very much rooted in the theatrical melodramas of the 19th century, where tragedy and misfortune happen so frequently that it threatens to become laughable. However, Pabst handles the material with such a gentle hand that it transcends its pulpy source material with a kind of delicate lyricism. He isn't content in allowing Thymian to be a mere damsel in distress, waiting on a man to come rescue her. No, she rescues herself, and takes on the establishment all by herself.

That's what sets it apart from many other films of its day (and today, for that matter). This is a film about a strong woman learning, at long last, that she doesn't need anyone to take care of her, all she needed was the confidence to do it herself.  It's incredible, really, that it came out in 1929, but here it is. Pabst knew how to use Brooks better than anyone, and she was never more breathtaking than she was here. There's so much going on in her performance, there's a vulnerability, a vivaciousness, a sexiness to her that seems to reach through the ages. Even amid the scratches and grain of old film stock (lovingly cleaned up by Kino Lorber for this Blu-Ray release), Brooks' performances shines. Heavily censored upon its original release, Diary of a Lost Girl has been restored to its original glory as intended by Pabst. It is a masterpiece of the silent era, and a showcase for one of the silver screen's greatest stars. Yet it is also a reminder that great roles for women do exist. And it makes one wonder, if they could do this in 1929, why can't they do it now?

GRADE -★★★★

Now available on Blu-Ray and DVD from Kino Lorber.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

On "Steve Jobs"

From The Dispatch:
The entire cast makes Sorkin’s often dense writing sing, while Boyle (who makes each time period look and feel like it was shot on film from the era), conducts it all like a symphony that always feels like it is on the verge of descending into an unintelligible cacophony, yet rises into something transcendent.
Click here to read my full review.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

On "Bridge of Spies"

From The Dispatch:
Like “Lincoln” before it, “Bridge of Spies” takes an extraordinary time in our nation’s history and boils it down to its essence. Spielberg has been known to over simplify things sometimes, and that may be the case here, but his incredible formalism and mastery of his cinematic craft have created a classically minded work that recalls the best of Capra’s American optimism in the face of great darkness. Spielberg has shown more restraint in his work over the last decade (“War Horse” being the notable exception), and it has been fascinating to watch him grow not only as a filmmaker, but as a political chronicler of modern American life. 
Click here to read my full review.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Review | "Breathe"

Mélanie Laurent is perhaps best known to American audiences as Shoshonna, the Jewish girl who burns the Nazi high command alive in her theater from Quentin Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds. But after Breathe, her sophomore effort behind the camera, she has established herself as quite an accomplished director as well.

Based on the novel by Anne-Sophie Brasme, Breathe has the sheen of your typical coming of age high school film. You have your quiet high school senior named Charlie (Joséphine Japy), who becomes infatuated with the free spirited new girl in school, Sarah (Lou de Laâge). Over the course of a weekend at the lake, Charlie and Sarah become fast friends, completely inseparable, to the point that you never see one without the other.

After their return to reality, however, things begin to change for Charlie and Sarah, and they slowly begin to grow apart. Sarah's troubled home life threatens to catch up with her, and Charlie's intense obsession with her begins to push her away.

On the other hand, Sarah begins spending more time with another friend, leaving Charlie behind. Yet Charlie still feels an intense attraction to Sarah, even though it becomes increasingly apparent those affections are not returned. Charlie soon finds herself an outcast at school, a constant target of Sarah's mean-spirited bullying. It comes down to Charlie to decide how deep her love for her former friend runs, and just how much abuse her selfless devotion can take.

Breathe is not your typical coming of age melodrama. There's something unusually incisive at work here. It is neither a love story nor a tale of platonic friendship, instead it exists somewhere in that confusing gray area in which teenage friendships often exist. It begins passionately, the kind of immediate attraction that bonds them together with a shared intensity, and then flames out just as quickly. Such is the nature of high school relationships, but Charlie just isn't ready to let go, and Sarah means so much more to her than she means to Sarah. Sarah is the alpha female, the cool girl, who isn't afraid to cast Charlie aside when it becomes convenient to her social advancement. Laurent displays a keen understanding of teenage friendships - of the intense emotions and the painful inevitability of growing apart. She directs in languid long takes, to the point that the camera feels as if it is a part of the action. It feels as if it were captured live rather than directed, a testament to Laurent's considerable skills. Even when the actions of the protagonists don't quite make sense, we are reminded that the actions of teenagers don't always make sense. They're volatile, finnicky, and emotionally unstable. Breathe delves deep into that, and doesn't pull punches. Its emotional timbre rings of truth at every turn.

This is a painfully honest examination of young love and the sometimes predatory nature of friendship, that tests how far even the deepest devotion can be tested. Like The Tree of Life's "way of grace" and "way of nature" pitted against each other, it is an assured coming of age tale that takes us down dark and unexpected paths, into testing the very fabric of human relationships.

GRADE - ★★★½ (out of four)

BREATHE | Directed by Mélanie Laurent | Stars Joséphine Japy, Lou de Laâge | In French w/English subtitles | Now playing in NYC, opens today in Los Angeles.

On "Black Mass"

From The Dispatch:
Through it all, Depp retains his icy calm, the seething rage always lurking just below the surface. It’s a terrifying performance for the ages, one that reminds us once and for all why Depp is one of our finest actors. He manages to be charming and horrifying all at once, both magnetic and repulsive, while the film skirts the usual cliches of its genre with a nimble and sure hand. 
Click here to read my full review.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

From the Repertory - 8/27/15

It's been a while since I've dug into the latest classic Blu-ray and DVD releases, and there have been quite a few goodies to catch up, so let's dig right in.

BEYOND ZERO: 1914-1918 (Bill Morrison, 2014, Icarus)

Bill Morrison turns history into the stuff of dreams. Or maybe, in this case, nightmares. Using original, decaying nitrate footage from WWI, Morrison stitches together a portrait of human folly with an eerie score by Aleksandra Vrebalov, performed by the Kronos Quartet. The footage may be distorted, but it's imperfections give it a haunting, dream-like quality, as if we are watching the very decay of the human race. Beyond Zero presents never before seen images from World War I, and while the very idea of watching images from the front lines is enough to raise the hair on the back of your neck, as if we are watching history unfold before our very eyes, Morrison lends it a kind of terrifying beauty. It's a mesmerizing, chilling portrait of a nearly forgotten war, through images degenerated almost beyond repair, that despite their degradation are just as immediate and just as powerful as ever.

HIROSHIMA, MON AMOUR (Alain Resnais, 1959, Criterion Collection)

There is a special and unique beauty about Alain Resnais' Hiroshima, Mon Amour, a landmark of the French New Wave and the film that put the legendary director on the map. Set in post-war Japan, the film is a love story between a French woman and a Japanese man with very different perspectives on the war. Resnais splinters the narrative with an almost Rashomon, disregard for time and truth, capturing the essence of a foreign love affair with a delicacy that recalls David Lean's Brief Encounter. But unlike that film, Resnais experiments with the form (some refer to the film as the first modern sound film), incorporating the theories of Sergei Eisenstein into something that feels thrillingly contemporary even today. Resnais uses the setting of Hiroshima, now a commercialized tourist destination a mere 14 years after it was destroyed by a nuclear bomb, as a hub for the disorienting collision of tradition and modernity, love and war, peace and chaos, to deliver a jarring yet strangely familiar narrative of deep, passionate longing.

JAUJA (Lisandro Alonso, 2015, Cinema Guild)

Lisandro Alonso's enigmatic Jauja plays like an Argentinian art house re-imaging of John Ford's The Searchers, starring Viggo Mortensen as a Danish military man traveling in a foreign desert with his daughter, searching for the mythical paradise of Jauja, a land many have tried to find, but all have been lost. When his daughter runs away with a young soldier, he sets off to find her, only to become lost himself in a world that seems to exist completely outside of time and civilization. A haunting existential work, often obfuscating, always fascinating, Jauja is a dazzling experiment that never fully reveals itself, always hiding its meanings and ideas behind long takes and metaphors, but the result is undeniably mesmerizing, and Mortensen is tremendous in the lead role.

The new Cinema Guild Blu-Ray also includes to equally fascinating short films by Alonso (who also directed the unmissable Liverpool), as well as a top notch essay by Quintin.

MAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA (Dziga Vertov, 1929, Flicker Alley)

"This experimental work aims at creating a truly international absolute language of cinema based on its complete separation from the language of theatre and literature."

So begins Dziga Vertov's pioneering work of documentary cinema, Man with a Movie Camera, which chronicles Vertov's journey across the Soviet Union armed with his trusty movie camera. A wildly kinetic, experimental work that captures the pulsing rhythms of the city and championing the ideas of the Soviet Montage movement pioneered by Sergei Eisenstein, Man with a Movie Camera remains one of the most astonishing works of art in cinematic history. It's a shame that the score it is most often presented with, composed and performed by the Alloy Orchestra (based on notes by Vertov), often feels too modern and grating, which distracts from Vertov's stunning imagery. Still, it's hard to deny Vertov's genius, and even with the grating score it still shines through, capturing the humming city and progress of technology in often glorious fashion.

Flicker Alley's typically excellent Blu-Ray presentation actually improves on their stellar Landmarks of Early Soviet Film box set, as it also presents gloriously restored prints of other Vertov films such as Kino-Eye, Enthusiasm: Symphony of the Donbass, and Three Songs About Lenin. Essential stuff.


I'm a sucker for old B-movies like this, and while The Monster that Challenged the World is very much of the "1950s nuclear scare" vein of sci-fi monster films that were so prevalent during the decade (ie Godzilla, Them!, and Attack of the Fifty-Foot Woman), it's also better than many of its brethren. It's a pretty standard premise - nuclear testing awakens prehistoric snails (!) from and underground cave who proceed to wreak havoc near a military base at the Salton Sea. So while the monstrous mollusks don't exactly "challenge the world," they leave a nice little slimy trail of destruction in their wake. Director Arnold Laven manages to create quite a bit of tension, largely due to the fact that we rarely see the creatures (which actually look pretty good for the time, but are still pretty goofy). It's not Godzilla level, but it's still an entertaining slice of 50s sci-fi cheese that understood the maxim that less is definitely more.

MY DINNER WITH ANDRE (Louis Malle, 1981, Criterion Collection)

Louis Malle's classic (infamous?) chronicle of a dinner between two colleagues is almost anti-cinematic. Two playwrights sitting at a table discussing theatre, philosophy, religion, and politics for two hours doesn't necessarily sound like riveting cinema. And while it is visually rather flat (a fact that even the new Criterion Blu-Ray can't really help), Malle nevertheless turns a dinner conversation into riveting cinema. Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory keep the conversation lively and engaging, and somewhere amid the seemingly humdrum motions of sharing a meal, Malle discovers something deeply profound in the stripped down simplicity, as two men search for authenticity in a world filled with dishonesty.

PLACES IN THE HEART (Robert Benson, 1984, Twilight Time)

It's pretty remarkable that Robert Benson's semi-autobiographical film about growing up poor in the rural south turned out to be so spare and unsentimental. It's an unblinking yet tender look at race relations during the Depression that packs a pretty powerful punch, mostly due to the strong central performance by Sally Field (for which she won her second Oscar - "you like me! You really like me!"), and Benson's subtle directorial restraint. Leaves lots of ends untied, but then, that is life. The film refuses to tack on unearned resolution, instead leaving us with the sense that the struggle will continue. It's a beautiful, deliberately paced work that still resonates today. Limited edition of 3,000 units.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

On "Sinister II"

From The Dispatch:
Ultimately, director Ciaran Foy shows too much, and focuses too much on the ghostly children and the demonic Bughuul, who were used so sparingly and so effectively the first go round. A few chilling images and a terrific score by tomandandy can't make up for lackluster performances (mainly from a completely miscast lead), over-reliance on jump scares and an overall sense of ennui.
Click here to read my full review.

Monday, August 17, 2015

On "Fantastic Four"

From The Dispatch:
"Fantastic Four" is dour and joyless, the victim of a trend toward "realism" in comic book movies when they should be focusing on giving the audience a good time. There's nothing fun or fresh about this film. It's lackluster and lazy, taking narrative shortcuts that leave it feeling strangely incomplete.
Click here to read my full review.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

On "Southpaw"

From The Dispatch:
While the trajectory the film takes may be familiar, Gyllenhaal and Horner certainly took the road less travelled. Fuqua has inspired great work from his collaborators before (Denzel Washington won an Oscar for his performance in the director’s “Training Day” in 2001), and “Southpaw” is no different. It may be less than the sum of its parts, but taken on their own, those parts often hit all the right notes.
Click here to read my full review.