Friday, September 30, 2011

'dream house' review

How can a movie that stars Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz, and Naomi Watts (and is directed by Jim Sheridan) not be screened in advance for critics? Well, if that movie is Dream House, it's actually pretty easy. Not quite a disaster or fiasco, the film feels like it's been rejiggered during its making: I'm not sure who came up with the third act, but it doesn't seem like it's from anyone who made the first two acts. My Dream House review is up at Screen International.

fruit bats - you're too weird

I am shocked and embarrassed that I have yet to pick up the new Fruit Bats album, Tripper. I also can't believe I hadn't seen this video for the album's single, "You're Too Weird." Parodies of '80s video cliches: They never get old, huh?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

'margaret' review

It's hard to say what's the saddest thing about Margaret. Is it that it's the long-delayed follow-up film from Kenneth Lonergan, the man responsible for the excellent You Can Count on Me? Is it that it's full of interesting ideas that simply don't work? Is it that some of my colleagues are being far too kind to it? All of the above. I reviewed the film for Yahoo.

'sarah palin: you betcha!' review

Sarah Palin: You Betcha! is not grade-A Nick Broomfield, but it's still an engaging, breezy documentary into the former Alaska governor's background. One thing's for sure: Palin's parents sure seem like nice folks. I reviewed the movie for Yahoo.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

'take shelter' review

Yeah, Take Shelter is terrific. Writer-director Jeff Nichols and star Michael Shannon performed their magic first in 2007's Shotgun Stories, and they've returned with an even more resonant film. I gush about Take Shelter in my Yahoo review.

'the whale' review

So, Ryan Reynolds' best movie of 2011 definitely isn't Green Lantern or The Change-Up. It's the documentary The Whale, which he executive produced and narrated. It's about a baby orca that got separated from his family and ended up off the west coast of Canada. It's a bit cutesy, but that whale sure is lovable. I reviewed the film for Screen International.

Monday, September 26, 2011

'my joy' review

My Joy is a Russian drama that calls to mind the bare-bones stories popular in Romanian cinema, but it's more existential and mysterious than that. I can't say it all worked, but the movie has stayed with me, which is its own kind of compliment. I reviewed My Joy for Yahoo.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

wilco - 'the whole love' review

I'm one of those weirdos who has preferred Wilco's post-Yankee Hotel Foxtrot/A Ghost Is Born period to all the ones that came before. (If that makes me a proponent of dad-rock, so be it.) Their new disc, The Whole Love, is another superb addition to their catalog. I reviewed the record for About.

'thunder soul' review

On Friday, I reviewed Thunder Soul, a documentary about the Kashmere Stage Band. It's a very likable film that isn't quite as deep or insightful as I would have preferred. Still, if you love '70s funk, you'll very much enjoy it. And, hey, DJ Shadow cameo.

Friday, September 23, 2011

r.e.m. - try not to breathe

Yeah, I'm still bummed out about the R.E.M. news. So here's a little "Try Not to Breathe."

Thursday, September 22, 2011

'weekend' review

If it's playing in your area, seek out Weekend, a sweet, simple drama directed by Andrew Haigh. If you're the type to be unnerved by a gay love story, well, you should still see it. I reviewed the film for Yahoo.

'machine gun preacher' review

Gerard Butler gives one of his better performances -- which, I realize, isn't saying all that much -- in Machine Gun Preacher, an inspirational drama about Sam Childers, the former drug dealer turned Sudan crusader. The movie isn't bad but, man oh man, I wish they'd found another director other than Marc Forster to put it together. I reviewed Machine Gun Preacher for Yahoo, and I see that folks are already commenting over there.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

'puncture' review

Chris Evans goes dark and indie for Puncture, a legal drama based on a true story. Turns out the true story is more interesting than the movie itself. I reviewed Puncture for Screen International.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

toronto film festival 2011, from worst to best

If it hadn't been for a nasty cold that wiped out the last two-and-a-half days of my trip, I would have easily logged over 30 films during my stay at the 2011 Toronto Film Festival. Nonetheless, here's my list (from worst to best) of what I saw, including films I screened in advance. Links lead to my reviews or articles over at The Projector....

Peace, Love & Misunderstanding
This Side of Resurrection
God Bless America
Albert Nobbs
The Artist
Friends With Kids
The Deep Blue Sea
Sarah Palin: You Betcha!
Damsels in Distress
A Dangerous Method
The Loneliest Planet
Wuthering Heights
Your Sister's Sister
The Descendants
Into the Abyss

So many movies, and yet so many I wish I could have seen: Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, Elena, The Kid With a Bike, A Separation, I Wish... Oh well, it happens. I'm hoping this year's AFI Fest helps fill in some gaps for me.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

'your sister's sister' review

Humpday is one of my favorite recent American indies, so I was excited to see what writer-director Lynn Shelton would do next. That turns out to be Your Sister's Sister, which isn't quite as accomplished but still rather fetching. I saw the film in Toronto and review it for The Projector.

'twixt' review

Francis Ford Coppola continues his late-career adventurousness with Twixt, a moody, loopy horror thingy starring Val Kilmer. And parts of it are in 3D. My review is up at Yahoo.

Friday, September 16, 2011

trent reznor and atticus ross - in motion

If I had to list my 10 happiest film moments of the year, I think one of them would be Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross winning the Oscar for their exceptional score to The Social Network. It's an example of an acclaimed songwriter (and his longtime collaborator) easily transitioning to movies without losing an ounce of their creative spark. If anything, Reznor's work has gotten stronger in the last few years, which I attribute to him realizing he can't be the angst-ridden young man anymore. Regardless, here's a little "In Motion" for your Friday.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

'take this waltz' review

One of the happier surprises at this year's Toronto Film Festival has been Take This Waltz, the follow-up film from Away From Her director Sarah Polley. It's a very different film, and yet it's equally heartfelt and affecting. And, as usual, Michelle Williams is great in it. I reviewed the film for Yahoo.

'rampart' review

Director Oren Moverman reunites with Woody Harrelson, his star from "The Messenger," for his new film, "Rampart." It's a dirty-cop drama set in Los Angeles. The city looks great, Harrelson is great, but the movie is only so-so. You can read my review over at Yahoo.

'alps' review

Dogtooth was a disturbing, original drama. (Or was it a dark comedy?) Regardless, director Yorgos Lanthimos is back with a new film that's playing Toronto, Alps. Sadly, it's not quite as good. I explain why over at Yahoo.

'into the abyss' review

Werner Herzog's latest documentary is one of his strongest in years, mostly because he stays out of the way. It's called Into the Abyss and examines a 10-year-old triple-homicide case in Texas. Gripping, sobering stuff. My review is up at Yahoo.

Monday, September 12, 2011

'the descendants' review

Alexander Payne's new movie, The Descendants, sneaks up on you. It's not quite as sharp as his About Schmidt, but it's in the same ballpark. My review is up at Yahoo.

Friday, September 09, 2011

the sundays - here's where the story ends

Dreamy folk-pop modern rock circa 1990 for your Friday morning. I was about the only person I knew who owned Reading, Writing and Arithmetic until I met my wife. Folks, she has all three Sundays albums. A true fan.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

'moneyball' review

Hi, everyone. I'm covering the Toronto Film Festival for The Projector, and my first review is up. It's Moneyball, which really should be better than it is. Here's the review.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

'warrior' review

Miracle is probably the best sports movie of the last 10 years, so I had high hopes for director Gavin O'Connor's latest, Warrior. It's half a great movie -- unfortunately, the second-half of the movie is a real problem. My review is up at Screen International.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

'shark night 3d' review

Put me in the camp of people who found Snakes on a Plane big, dumb ludicrous fun. That movie was directed by David R. Ellis. His latest is Shark Night 3D. It's simply ludicrous. I reviewed the film for Screen International.

Friday, September 02, 2011

'apollo 18' review

Shock of shocks, I didn't hate Apollo 18 like a lot of folks did. Actually, I found it enjoyable enough. My review is up at Screen International.

serge gainsbourg and brigitte bardot - bonnie and clyde

The French biopic Gainsbourg, about singer Serge Gainsbourg, is out this weekend, so a little "Bonnie and Clyde" seemed appropriate. I would have loved to have included the original music video, but it's not embeddable, so you'll just have to check it out here. By the way, in the film Laetitia Casta holds her own playing Bardot. A fun performance.