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  • Locke 2013

    ★★ Added

    Definitely the disappointment of the year so far based on critical reception. Setting a bad script in a car does not make for a good film, it makes for a bad film without much else to divert the viewer than Hardy's presence (or the BMW, if you like feature-length advertisements).

  • Boyhood 2014

    ★★★★ Added

    Didn't expect to be on the relatively critical side on this one, but this film has a LOT of bad scenes, making the largely unqualified superlatives somewhat perplexing. That being said, it's very difficult to measure its lows against its highs, not to mention its genuinely compelling distinctiveness.

  • My Fair Lady 1964

    ★★★ Added

    Unjustifiably bloated with musical numbers, some of which follow from each other with no respite. A few of the routines are fun, but I mostly was wishing for a straight adaptation of the play. Audrey Hepburn miscast up until she becomes 'ladylike.' The changed ending is pretty infuriating, undercutting both the mythological source and much of the play's social critique.

  • Three Colors: White 1994

    ★★ Watched 31 Aug, 2012

    Middling comedy of suffering at its best, near self-parody at its worst. Seems totally uninspired in between the gorgeously muddled BLUE and the gorgeously masterful RED.

  • Margaret 2011

    ★★★★½ Rewatched 25 Aug, 2012 1

    Picked up a lot of enriching details on second watch, and I now think the "little/big cunt" scene might be the most representative of its dynamism. Paquin's performance is verifiably incredible, and Janney really justifies the creation of an award for minor performances. Still some weird segues but there are a number ostensibly awkward ones that reveal themselves to be connected in ways unexpectedly deliberate.

  • The Hunger Games 2012

    ★★ Watched 24 Aug, 2012

    Taken as is, without reference to the novel, this is nearly incoherent. The promise of a commentary on spectatorship disappears once the games begin, and the ambiguity w/r/t the authenticity of the two absurdly named characters' relationship is hardly allowed to stir. Less criticism than observation, the film looks surprisingly low-budget--the amazed response to Lawrence's fiery costume comes off as head-scratching in an age with deep wound elixirs and the ability to digitally create and transmit real fucking rhino-tiger hybrids. Of course the source text might supplement a lot of the details but it's difficult to infer any subtleties it might imply.

  • The Dark Knight Rises 2012

    ★★½ Watched 14 Aug, 2012

    Can't help but use THE DARK KNIGHT to show where this goes wrong. The Joker's utter nihilism allowed for a much simpler set-up, obviating any detailed back story and permitting an agreeable affirmation of humanity's innate goodness vis-a-vis cynicism and anarchy. RISES has much more complicated adversaries and, without any simple alternatives, settles on a sharply negative ideology, neither reactionary or progressive. Gotham itself, as depicted here, would certainly no longer pass the Joker's ferryboat "social experiment." This film also…

  • The Celluloid Closet 1995

    ★★★ Added

    A bit too grave for my liking - musical scores feel especially manipulative and televisual in docs - but insightful in its exhibition of some pretty obscure films. Actor-playwright Harvey Fierstein is its most interesting interviewee, as his "masculine" looks and low-pitched rasp make his defense of "sissies" profoundly tender. Susie Bright and the recently deceased Gore Vidal are also eloquent; the latter's BEN-HUR anecdote is particularly hilarious.

  • A Decade Under the Influence 2003

    ★★½ Watched 10 Aug, 2012

    Solid metahistory, less hagiographical than EASY RIDERS, RAGING BULLS. Still facile even at over 2.5 hours, with the "European origins" section pretty much truncated to a montage of filmmakers name-dropping Godard, Truffaut, Kurosawa (sic) et al.

  • Make Way for Tomorrow 1937

    ★★★★½ Watched 07 Aug, 2012

    Captures the cold indifference of an emerging culture of egocentrism implied by its title in gradually more painful measures. Ma's loaded retort to Rhoda w/r/t necessary self-deception is one of the most bitterly honest scenes I've ever witnessed, paradoxically humiliating and dignifying. The "last date" anticipates BEFORE SUNSET but raises the stakes at the last moment, as the couple deflectively suspend their illusions and acknowledge their mortality. One would be hard-pressed to imagine a better earned train-station last kiss than that.

  • Easy Riders, Raging Bulls 2003

    ★★½ Watched 24 Jun, 2012

    The kind of fun, facile doc that favors juicy gossip and a coherent narrative over historical complexity. Entertaining and at times candid interviews, but frustrating if you know that e.g. Sam Peckinpah's career didn't simply end after PAT GARRETT.

  • The Magnificent Seven 1960

    ★★½ Watched 22 Jun, 2012

    Worth noting as Newt Gingrich's apparent all-time favorite movie. Brynner, Bronson lend dignity, McQueen seems uncomfortable.