RSS feed for Peter
  • Dog Factory

    Dog Factory

    A good film to highlight from MoMA's return of the Cruel & Unusual Comedy series, which I wrote about in the Village Voice:

    A revival of the program first shown at MoMA in May 2009, "Cruel and Unusual Comedy" features shorts curated by Ben Model and Steve Massa from the legendary silent-film collection Eileen Bowser gathered during her tenure at the museum in the Seventies and Eighties. The duo's emphasis is on the bizarre and the insane, each selection a representation…

  • Creepy

    Creepy

    ★★★★

    Discussed in the Top 10 podcast, and in many ways, my favorite directed film of the year on a shot-by-shot basis. Everything this guy does speaks to what I think great cinema can and should accomplish within an artistic mode of practice. It seems so strange to me that both him and Miike could emerge from the same film movment, given how omnipresent the former brings a formal rigor to each script while Miike seems to reinvent his aesthetics all…

  • Cameraperson

    Cameraperson

    ★★★★½

    Because of where our conversation ultimately took us with regards to my choices, I didn't spend as much time as I wanted to singing the praises of this beautiful piece of work on our Top 10 podcast.

    One thing I would say, is that if I had to choose a recent film to show to visitors from outer space to teach us about humanity, I think I would send this. That might be an odd choice given how much of…

  • Hell or High Water

    Hell or High Water

    ★★★½

    Discussed on the Top 10 podcast here. Chris Pine beating that punk half to death might be my favorite moment in movies this year.

  • Allied

    Allied

    ★★★★

    Discussed on the Top 10 podcast here. Is there anyone else doing "prestige adult" filmmaking like Zemeckis does? His last three films hit a middlebrow sweet spot in which he just shoots dialgoue scenes (as well as his most creative inventions) with more psychological nuance than anyone else.

  • 20th Century Women

    20th Century Women

    ★★★½

    "Bening has been considered one of the greatest actresses of her generation, but the continual Oscar talk around each performance has, in a way, stunted us from actually discussing the nuances of her technique. With a warm smile and a casual pause at every line, Bening distills her role as a liberal-but-not-quite-leftist mother with warm grace. Her quiet face with seemingly inexpressive eyes remains calm and collected, but her smoking habit and the nervous tics of how she holds her…

  • Toni Erdmann

    Toni Erdmann

    ★★★★½

    "The beauty in Ade's work is that she has constructed something so familiar in a genre often seen as overused or tired. But most films take a journey to realize the complexity of their characters; Toni Erdmann assumes it from the start. It makes just as much sense for the film to end 40 minutes in, 90 minutes, or even 150 minutes. But going the full 165 creates a euphoric experience of cinematic bliss."

    I rarely get to write raves,…

  • Great Expectations

    Great Expectations

    ★★★½

    It's been a while since I've had an episode of my podcast, but it finally returns with Fredrik Gustafsson discussing his book on Hasse Ekman and this gem. I'm not as entirely convinced on this as Fredrik, but I do agree that Lean's talents seem to be multifasceted. The atmosphere only works given the performance style in the foreground, or in conjunction with the almost entirely invisible editing schema and pointed camera movement. Obviously cutting Dickens down to two hours…

  • Happy Hour

    Happy Hour

    ★★★½

    A brief write up for The Village Voice, as you can see the film in New York on New Year's Eve:

    Happy Hour’s five-hour-plus running time will obviously concern some, but Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s rewarding, understated drama uses its length to extend sympathetic attention in every direction. The film focuses on four middle-aged female friends and their professional and romantic commitments, often depicted in mundane settings: restaurants, bars, living rooms, book talks, spa trips, and even an extended “energy focus” workshop.…

  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

    Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

    ★★

    For years, Hollywood and the surrounding Culture Wars have asked a question: Do Critics Matter? It's a frankly boring question, but the main anxiety has developed out of a growing disconnect between Rotten Tomatoes Favorites and the American Box Office. But Disney and their expanding intellectual properties have put a new spin on this story: critics don't matter, but studios deliberately position / design films to harness their words in order to enter The Cultural Conversation. Their movies are no…

  • La La Land

    La La Land

    ★★½

    "Given the middle-child syndrome of whether musicals can exist in today's film landscape, La La Land feels obsessed in its construction that it alone can save the genre. But perfection has a price, and La La Land's constant swooning and 'look at me!' attitude is downright exhausting. It's the cinematic equivalent of being friends with Anne Hathaway."

    My LAist review of the throwback musical (my favorite genre), and another case of a well-loved movie I just really didn't take to.

  • Jackie

    Jackie

    ★★

    "If you ever get lost about the point of Jackie, another character will come out of the woodwork to explain its meaning. John Hurt as a priest not only recalls a parable but explains its literal connection to Kennedy's life; the film not only plays 'Camelot' twice, but allows her to explains its exact meaning after she notes, 'One last thing—and this is the most important.' Because the film barely forms anything of a suspenseful narrative (just how will those funeral arrangements play out!?), it simply states a number of themes as opposed to embodying them."

    No thanks. My LAist review.