Wednesday, May 24, 2017
Sofia Coppola is back with her first feature since the slightly disappointing The Bling Ring. The Beguiled is a huge step up -- and maybe her best film since Marie Antoinette. Colin Farrell plays a wounded Union soldier who's taken in by a girls' school in Virginia run by Nicole Kidman. Heavily atmospheric and very thought-provoking, it packs a punch in just over 90 minutes. My review is live at Screen International.
Tuesday, May 23, 2017
There is much to like about the ambitious The Square, the new dark comedy from Ruben Östlund, who brought us the Golden Globe-nominated Force Majeure. How much do you enjoy jokes about postmodern art? Do you have a tolerance for films that amble from subplot to subplot? The Square will test you on both fronts. My review is up at Paste.
I have yet to see Alien: Covenant. So for this week's podcast, I asked Will some questions about it. Then, in our Reboot segment, we dive into The Big Chill and Game 6. One's a Baby Boomer classic, the other is barely remembered. Which one did I like better? Check it out below:
Even Cannes has its turkeys. Screening in Un Certain Regard, Fortunata is a super-melodramatic story about a single mom trying to realize her dream of owning her own beauty salon. No dice, says I. My review is up at Screen International.
Adam Sandler has received a lot of praise for his role in Noah Baumbach's The Meyerowitz Stories. It's one of his rare "serious" roles, and he's never been more comfortable playing a regular guy. For MEL, I look at Sandler's artistic evolution.
Here's a little glimpse into how my life works at a film festival. On Monday morning, I went to see The Florida Project, the latest from Tangerine filmmaker Sean Baker. I then headed straight home to file my review, staying off social media so I could just focus on my piece. Right after, I headed off to see the new Hong Sang-soo movie, The Day After. Right after that, I headed to a party. Near the end of the event, someone came up to me and said, "So, you got to review the film of the festival, I hear." I had no idea what they were talking about. But, apparently, yes, The Florida Project has received stellar reviews. I'd been so swamped that I'd had no idea how others felt about it.
Anyway, here's mine, up at Screen International.
Monday, May 22, 2017
I am starting to worry that Animal Kingdom was a fluke: Filmmaker David Michod hasn't come close to delivering a knockout since. His latest is War Machine, which stars Brad Pitt as a loony American general fighting in Afghanistan. There's a lot of anger and a lot of strained comedy in this misfire. My review is up at Screen International.
Sunday, May 21, 2017
Abel Ferrara isn't my idea of a master storyteller, but I was pretty pleased with his concert film Alive in France. The concept: In conjunction with a French retrospective of his oeuvre last October, he decided to stage some concerts of the songs from his films. It's a freewheeling behind-the-scenes look at the shows. My review is up at Screen International.
With The Meyerowitz Stories, writer-director Noah Baumbach returns to the caustic dissection of family that marked his movies like The Squid and the Whale. But there's a noticeable uptick in warmth, though, which I talk about in my Screen International review.
Okja is a mess. Is it a mess I'd recommend? Just barely. But Bong Joon Ho's film has plenty of dark energy, which helps counteract a lot of cutesy stuff elsewhere. And, Jake Gyllenhaal, seriously, I love you -- but you are terrible in this film. I weigh all the pros and cons at Paste.
Saturday, May 20, 2017
The gentleman on the right, you know. The guy on the left is Leon Vitali, who served as Stanley Kubrick's assistant for years. The documentary Filmworker aims to shed some light on the former actor who became the late director's fiercest champion -- even now, years after his death. A Kubrick nut like me should eat up a movie like this. So how come I didn't? I explain over at Screen International.
Friday, May 19, 2017
For MEL, I wrote about Wakefield, which stars Bryan Cranston as a man who decides to walk away from his life. He doesn't go too far, though: He hides in the family garage, spying on his loved ones who don't know what's happened to him. The movie's only so-so, but the Oscar-nominated actor delivers an inspired performance about a deeply contemptuous man. There are some shades of Walter White in Wakefield, which I explain here.
In 2015, writer-director Jonas Carpignano released Mediterranea, which followed the harrowing journey of an African refugee living in Italy. A side character from that film is the star of his new movie, A Ciambra. It's a coming-of-age story about poverty and isolation. I reviewed A Ciambra for Screen International.
Thursday, May 18, 2017
Todd Haynes follows up Carol with Wonderstruck, based on the young-adult novel from Brian Selznick. It concerns two adolescents -- one from 1927, the other from 1977 -- who both journey to New York in search of phantom people in their lives. Haynes often plays with genre; here, he tackles the family film. My review is up at Paste.
Jupiter's Moon is the new film from director Kornél Mundruczó, who previously made White God. The follow-up is more ambitious, in ways that are both good and bad. Here's the premise: A Syrian refugee is shot dead -- except, he doesn't die, instead developing the power to levitate. Intriguing idea, right? It is. I wish Mundruczó hadn't decided to get preachy, though. My review is up at Screen International.