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  • Bad Moms

    Bad Moms 2016

    ★★ Watched 26 Jul, 2016

    "While Ghostbusters had its numerous problems, it knew that devoting screen time to four women cracking jokes at each other in a room was itself something of a revolutionary act. Bad Moms rarely gives its characters time to breathe, and its few best moments derive from improv sessions of the cast. Otherwise, the performers feel trapped by plot."

    In the words of Todd, "Fuck, man. What else is there to say?"

  • Jason Bourne

    Jason Bourne 2016

    ★★½ Watched 25 Jul, 2016 1

    "Vikander gets little to do beyond strenuously stare at computer screens, deliver exposition in droll monotones without a hint of curiosity or excitement underneath that British accent. She gets to wear black eyeshadow with a gray-red lipstick and a clip tightening her hair back into an awkward bun all while sporting a series of dark blue pantsuits. Is her pouting lip and steely-eyed stares meant for her superiors or those behind the camera? I'm not demanding that she smile, but…

  • Don't Go Breaking My Heart

    Don't Go Breaking My Heart 2011

    ★★★★ Watched 16 Nov, 2014

    "To and Wai opt against bawdy humor for an elegance reminiscent of 1930s comedies by Ernst Lubitsch. The playful cross-office flirtation sequences use silent-film gestures and sticky pad-made emojis, recalling Jacques Tati’s Playtime. The directors shoot Hong Kong as a brightly lit metropolis with metallic lines of pastel colors, all aided by Xavier Jamaux‘s frothy piano plucks. With wide-opening framing, To and Wai create playful, unexpected sight gags as the characters spy on their expected partners through windows."

    More discussed here over at The AV Club.

  • Indignation

    Indignation 2016

    ★★★½ Watched 24 Jun, 2016 2

    I interviewed writer-director James Schamus here. Not a masterpiece by any means, but it's such an interesting experiment in performance by Lerman, Gadon, and Letts. Because it depends on this super bizarre structure of a film all revolving around a 15-minute conversation in the middle of the film, it becomes a largely internal film. It might look and sometimes flow like Mad Men, but I don't think it is (too many long shots, and the photography is a little toned…

  • The Tall T

    The Tall T 1957

    ★★★★ Watched 15 Jul, 2016

    Discussed with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon screenwriter / Focus Features co-founder / Indignation director James Schamus in this latest episode of The Cinephiliacs (its 4th anniversary show!). Due to time constraints, James and I only scratched the surface, but I think the things we discuss — the quasi-proletariat leanings, the lack of external action, and the strange final line — cover some of the essential parts of this Western. Boetticher is such a plain-style director that it can be hard…

  • Star Trek Beyond

    Star Trek Beyond 2016

    ★★½ Watched 20 Jul, 2016

    "Beyond just barely hits the marks that have become all too thin in blockbuster filmmaking, causing dead stops with the film's monotonously thematic conversations and constantly growing expository backstory (when will villains simply be evil again?). Though running what now must be considered brief at two hours, there are still too many beats pounded on by Michael Giacchino's score; a late action set piece scored to the Beastie Boys almost rescues the picture and gives the film an indelibly humorous…

  • Ghostbusters

    Ghostbusters 2016

    ★★½ Watched 14 Jul, 2016

    "[McKinnon] never sits normally nor stands properly, her legs appearing in places like a set of misguided yoga poses. She mutters dialogue in Shakespearean asides under her breath, but with an acuity that makes them feel like a dare. That is unless she's describing the series of technological doohickeys her character devises; her body and voice suddenly take on the adrenaline rush of a junkie with boyish exasperation flailing out of her body."

    Has the problem of wanting to be…

  • Café Society

    Café Society 2016

    ★★★½ Watched 08 Jul, 2016 1

    "It should no longer surprise anyone in claiming Stewart as one of the great actresses of her generation, but the way she works through the material thrown at her by different directors continues to surprise. After Adventureland and American Ultra, Eisenberg and Stewart have nailed down their quasi-flirtatious tone to a relaxed comic pace. He darts his pointed eyes with the dialogue rapidly firing out of his mouth, while she allows words to spill with less tonal inclination and more…

  • Nuts!

    Nuts! 2016

    ★★½ Watched 12 Jul, 2016 2

    Penny Lane, as two documentaries have now shown, has archive fever. She also has the right mindset; my advisor tells me constantly to "look for the weird," and that is all over Lane's historical inquiries into what kind of footage and documents she excavates from the past.

    What she and writer Thom Stylinski have a less handle on is the hard work that then makes a historian. How does the story of John Brinkley fit or disrupt the larger historical…

  • The Report

    The Report 1977

    ★★★½ Watched 05 Jul, 2016

    Discussed in part of this tribute podcast on Abbas Kairostami, featuring Amir Soltani and Tina Hassania of the Hello Cinema podcast and Slant writer Carson Lund. This is a gut punch of a film, and closer to an Asghar Farhadi work than what we know and think of Kiarostami. But there are numerous shots where the filmmaker shows his use of preferring long takes as to more haphazard editing. Plus, the parallels to AK's own life that others have reported…

  • The BFG

    The BFG 2016

    ★★★½ Watched 27 Jun, 2016

    "While the film is filled with spectacle, many of the best moments find Spielberg simply placing Sophie and her new companion in conversation in a room. Given the size differentiation, it allows for even more freedom to explore the character dynamics in a 360 space; the 'camera' dollies not just left and right but up, down, and around his characters with imaginative looks. Spielberg is a rare filmmaker who understands the difference between moving a camera and choosing to cut."…

  • Goodbye, Dragon Inn

    Goodbye, Dragon Inn 2003

    ★★★★½ Watched 19 Jun, 2016

    "To watch a Tsai film is to watch duration, to be forced to extend a frame beyond its normal limits. Placed in the context of slow cinema, Tsai signifies perhaps one of the most extreme cases before considering the world of avant-garde filmmakers. A filmmaker like Hou Hsiao-Hsien may be slow, but there is constant movement and constant story within his frames. Bela Tarr almost always has his camera tracking toward something. Tsai, for the most part, is willing to…