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  • 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…

  • The Misfits

    The Misfits 1961

    ★★★★ Rewatched 09 Jun, 2016

    Or: The Death of Hollywood Classical Cinema. Discussed with Independent Stardom's Emily Carman on the latest episode of the podcast.

  • The Neon Demon

    The Neon Demon 2016

    ★★ Watched 21 Jun, 2016 3

    "If The Neon Demon truly wanted to critique this world, however, it would feel more attuned to the psychology of its characters. That the camera ogles the bodies of Fanning and the other tall, extremely slender women is a moot point given the film is ostensibly a critique. But anyone finding something profound within Refn's world is fooling themselves; this is a profoundly stupid movie. Expect to see The Neon Demon playing at the background of college dorm parties in which a bro declares he became a feminist after seeing it. He won't know what 'lemonade' is beyond a beverage."


  • The Shallows

    The Shallows 2016

    ★★★½ Watched 21 Jun, 2016

    "Best described as Jaws meets MacGyver, the script by Anthony Jaswinski finds little items and details for Lively's Nancy to use to buy herself time. Collet-Serra sticks to a number of medium shots and close-ups to keep up the urgency, relying on POV shots to throw the audience into her headspace and the occasional extreme long shot of her tiny rock within the vast space to create isolating terror. After the initial set-up, the film plays much of its length…

  • L for Leisure

    L for Leisure 2014

    ★★★★ Watched 17 May, 2016

    I originally wrote what follows for the podcast but had to drop it for reasons beyond my control. Anyways, this is a phenomenal movie, and you can watch it for free right now (see the password in the notes), and once you watch I hope you consider donating to the Kickstarter for Kalman and Horn's 19th Century Spa Western. This is a voice I want to see in cinema for the next 50 years.

    Shot on 16mm over a number…

  • Piper

    Piper 2016

    ★★★½ Watched 11 Jun, 2016

    "Telling the story of a small sandpiper afraid of water but oh-so-hungry for tiny clams, the photorealistic elements of individual grains of sand and water droplets create a stunningly realized environment. While the characters are recognizably human, the birds are less anthropomorphized than anything in Pixar's features, limiting their more "human" expressions essentially to the eyes, thus striking a uniquely different emotional core than usual."

    Also covered in my Finding Dory review over at LAist.

  • Finding Dory

    Finding Dory 2016

    ★★★ Watched 11 Jun, 2016 3

    "In recent years, the Pixar narrative formula has begun to feel less like its key to its success than its Achilles' heel; Finding Dory's major weaknesses stem from its adherence to a three-act, 12-step journey. Every scene feels like a variation on the previous—the characters meet someone new (friend, foe, or a lonely and talkative clam), which sparks either an action or comic set piece. Danger is presented for a brief moment (pounded on by Thomas Newman's unrelenting score) and…

  • I Don't Want to Be a Man

    I Don't Want to Be a Man 1918

    ★★★★ Watched 05 Jun, 2016

    Maybe the best film I've seen to use European tableaux-style directing to constantly engage the screen with action. It helps that it's a comedy instead of a melodrama, but Lubitsch's work with actors in having very simple action constantly move not just the plot but our understanding of the characters is strikingly unique for this era. I discuss this at length in the SF Silent Fest wrap up episode of the podcast.

  • The Battle of the Century

    The Battle of the Century 1927

    ★★★½ Watched 04 Jun, 2016

    One of at least a dozen films discussed in this recap of the SF Silent Film Festival podcast, but obviously a delightful highlight. As we discuss, the actual scale of the pie fight is not particularly impressive in of itself but the various gags in the lead-up and then the various interludes the pie fight provides. Having just seen The Great Race (which includes a title credit thanking Mr. Laurel and Mr. Hardy), you clearly know Blake Edwards must've remembered this from his youth, as it contains many of the same rhythmic cues as the former film.

  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows

    Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows 2016

    ★★½ Watched 01 Jun, 2016 1

    "Whether staging a highway car chase or aerial drop, the large scale action sequences move fluidly via the camera's constant high-velocity maneuvers, putting the audience in the center of the action without necessarily cutting things up. The effects team mostly stays true to real world physics, even when the image is CGI, making these action set pieces carry some weight."

    Review for LAist, and like, okay sure.

  • Heaven Can Wait

    Heaven Can Wait 1943

    ★★★½ Watched 21 Dec, 2014

    Featured in this week's Village Voice summer movie preivew

    Ernst Lubitsch's only foray into Technicolor is a boisterous odyssey of one man's sexcapades, told with macabre melancholy. Henry Van Cleve (Don Ameche) attempts to bargain his way into hell by recalling his lifetime of promiscuity; born in 1870s New York, the character comes of age as a lad chasing showgirls before settling into a compromised marriage to Gene Tierney. The Lubitsch touch of sophisticated lightness overlaying a bawdy sexuality is…

  • Kate Plays Christine

    Kate Plays Christine 2016

    ★★★½ Watched 03 Mar, 2016

    Featured in this week's Village Voice summer movie preivew.

    In his previous movie, Actress, the documentarian Robert Greene turned the story of Brandy Burre — a real-life actress trying to return to work after committing herself for a number of years to family life — into a self-critical inquiry about the way we identify with narrative. In this pitch-black thriller, Greene follows the indie darling Kate Lyn Sheil as she investigates another role inspired by a true-to-life personality: Christine Chubbuck,…