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  • Deepwater Horizon

    Deepwater Horizon 2016

    Watched 27 Sep, 2016

    "As the helpless oil men (and one woman) attempt to escape the burning wreckage, Berg makes sure that his audience will squirm in their seats, perilous to do anything but watch. The question remains: to what ends? Like United 93, another film that depicted the carnage of a national tragedy, Deepwater Horizon hits you right in your gut as you watch bodies helplessly succumb to a storm of mud, oil, metal, and fire. But why turn the perils of a…

  • Stranger Than Paradise

    Stranger Than Paradise 1984

    ★★★★ Rewatched 01 Jun, 2016

    Discussed with NFPF Executive Director Jeff Lambert on the latest podcast episode. Still feels entirely singular—an obvious predecessor for every New American Indie film that flooded the market in the 90s (and reached parodic form in the 2000s), while still feeling entirely unique. This is a shot in the arm of "here's some Real Fucking Cinema for you" in the best way possible.

  • Snowden

    Snowden 2016

    ★★½ Watched 13 Sep, 2016 1

    "Stone continually paints Snowden as an extraordinary genius at his work and later a lone wolf, his inner conflict emerging through the nagging relationship with Lindsay who just cannot understand his inner demons. In short, his story reflects that of a singular Great Man, almost accomplishing the opposite of what Poitras set to do with her intimate CITIZENFOUR. While both Poitras and Stone argue Snowden is a patriot instead of a traitor, Stone tries to fit him into a tradition…

  • Cock of the Air

    Cock of the Air 1932

    ★★★½ Watched 15 Aug, 2016

    From this week's Village Voice:

    Many restorations of forgotten classics simply involve a process of scanning, cleaning, and scrubbing filmic elements. But the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' restoration of Cock of the Air, a Howard Hughes–produced pre-Code sex comedy, shows off new tricks. The 1932 movie features a series of playful waltzes between womanizing pilot Chester Morris and steamy opera singer Billie Dove, following the latter's exile to Italy for "distracting" Paris's masculine elite. Various state censors…

  • Sully

    Sully 2016

    ★★★★ Watched 06 Sep, 2016 2

    "As he's evolved into a dramatic actor, Hanks's comic background has trained him to create sudden ruptures of rhythm to change the entire perspective of a character. In a moment near the end, Hanks nods his head over to his co-pilot, an almost amused characterization that suggests something intangible about the character that we can only witness, and thus empathize with the real consequences of becoming a legend."

    Wrote for this over at LAist's overlord website, Gothamist, which took a…

  • Heat

    Heat 1995

    ★★★★½ Rewatched 07 Sep, 2016 2

    Michael Mann usually gets credit for action set pieces and incredibly masculine approach to filmmaking, that it's easy to forget how intensely meticulous his romantic scenes can feel, with each moment chiseled to the same amount of precision as every gunshot.

    Here's Amy Brenneman and Robert De Niro in Heat on the Sunset Terrace after their chance meeting at a diner. Their dialogue has been typically sparse, cutting the line between archetypical and expressive. De Niro closes off the scene…

  • The Sicilian

    The Sicilian 1987

    ★★★ Watched 03 Sep, 2016

    It seems like destiny that Michael Cimino became a cause célèbre beyond his time. What tarnished him as a filmmaker while part of the industry are often the kind of things that age into period styling. If one doesn't watch a few dozens silent films from the 1910s, it can be hard to differentiate Mary Pickford performance from any Mary Sue thrown into a melodrama. Meanwhile, what often does outlive an era—the bread and butter of directing, for example—is what…

  • The Light Between Oceans

    The Light Between Oceans 2016

    ★★ Watched 22 Aug, 2016

    "In some ways, this emphasis on montage and universality might remind one of Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life, who also opts for elliptical construction over direct narrative. But Cianfrance chooses the absolutely beautiful over the specific; he places his actors in poses instead of allowing emotion to flow through their gestures. Dialogue constantly rings out platitudes instead of drawing on the world they inhabit. "

    I haven't been a fan of Derek Cianfrance, and I'm not fan of The Light Between Oceans, though I give him credit for trying something new. But this is really just a bad James Gray movie. My review for LAist.

  • Some Came Running

    Some Came Running 1958

    ★★★★ Watched 23 May, 2016

    Discussed with Scott Bukatman on the latest podcast. Loses a star for not continually playing at a theater on a 35mm IB Technicolor print 24/7 in which I can simply live in this movie forever.

  • Kubo and the Two Strings

    Kubo and the Two Strings 2016

    ★★½ Watched 11 Aug, 2016 1

    "The stop motion provides Kubo with integrity, but more than Laika's previous features, the images feel slick instead of tangible. While the complete CGI world of something like Zootopia gave the 'camera' a whirling velocity, the acrobatic moves here simply pull the film away from the stop motion creatures. It seems in trying to attempt to repeat the CGI standard, the sequences feel less comfortable exploring their own properties."

    Sigh. I was really excited for this so it pains me to find it just kind of barely passable. Take your kids to see Pete's Dragon. Skip the 3D for both. My review for LAist.

  • O.J.: Made in America

    O.J.: Made in America 2016

    ★★★★½ Watched 26 Jun, 2016

    "ESPN’s 30 for 30 has never attempted to radicalize the documentary form as is standard practice at Harvard’s Sensory Ethnography Lab, and Edelman does not challenge the aesthetic per say. But he finds ways to make the form feel relevant and necessary. He may not be probing his interviewers to break them on screen and deconstruct their personalities before their eyes, but he also asks a limited set of questions speaking to specifics; where broader statements are put in the…

  • Topaz

    Topaz 1945

    Added

    I wasn't sure what to put here in place of the latest podcast, which explores amateur videos of police violence and brutality against African Americans. But as my guest Snowden Becker discusses, David Tatsuno's footage from inside the Japanese concentration camps remains an essential work of amateur film history, and one of the few moving image works that had lasting effects in terms of the US government's response. So take a listen to our discussion of what it means to be an amateur video and what does it mean to look for evidence instead of art.