Reichardt is probably my favourite working American film director and Night Moves is fantastic. If you’re thinking there’s a connection to the Gene Hackman movie from the ’70s, there is, in a sorta vague link. Like her other films, this one deals with outsiders in nature and this is one slow, thrilling burn. The characters are great - Jess Eisenberg plays the creep so well here that you hate him 10 minutes into the film. I LOVED this. Highly recommended.
This documentary is one of those feel-good films with great kids, inspiring teachers and maybe a little life lesson or two. This chess team from Brooklyn, where 78% of the students are living under the poverty line, isn’t the underdog in the world of chess, they’re balls-out champions and it’s inspiring to see their hard work and devotion. It’s the outside forces - school board cuts brought on by corrupt Wall street players - that is the bad guy here and it’s infuriating that a quality public education for everyone isn’t protected.
“This Is My Life” is the movie that made me want to make movies. I first saw it in second grade, so I wouldn’t have articulated it as such, but that’s what was going on. I must have watched it on VHS eleven or twelve times in one summer, trying hard to grasp something. About its characters? About its construction? On each viewing, a new joke or angle revealed itself to me and its world became richer. I loved Samantha Mathis’s surly teen, Gaby Hoffmann’s quippy innocent, and especially Julie Kavner’s Dot, their single mother, a standup comedian hellbent on self-actualizing despite, or maybe because of, these daughters. But what I really loved was the person orchestrating the whole thing. The costumes, perfectly low-rent polka-dotted blazers and grungy winter hats. The music, a mixture of vaudevillian bounce and Carly Simon’s voice that somehow made the city seem more real than if car horns scored the film. The camerawork, a single gliding shot that followed each family member into her bedroom as she settled into a new apartment in a less than desirable Manhattan neighborhood. I loved whoever was making these actresses comfortable enough to express the minutiae of being a human woman onscreen. It wasn’t until years later that I understood this was Nora Ephron. I devoured her prose, her other film offerings, and became a fangirl right along with my mother, aunt, grandmother, and every other intelligent woman in the tristate area. Which is why it was so momentous when, in March of 2011, I received a short, perfect e-mail from Ephron, saying she had seen and enjoyed my film and would like to take me to lunch. I was twenty minutes early, and hid in a corner until I saw Nora enter, greet the hostess, and be shown to the best table in the place. I watched her order a Diet Coke and check her iPhone, and then I finally appeared at the table, already regretting my choice of top. But when she looked up, my fears evaporated. I was just so excited to know her.
This always seemed to be on MuchMusic when I was a teenager, but I just couldn’t stomach it because it seemed like a Monty Python movie (and I hate MP). Last night, I watched it and it is indeed full of goofy, MP-like British humour. It’s a stylish, good looking film with good music and cute boys in shaggy hair cuts but it’s not my cup of tea.
Paul Dano plays a failing rock singer who returns to his wintery hometown to sign divorce papers & custody papers. But this is a movie of 2 halves. The first half is all Dano - a tedious study of a life in a downward spiral, but the second half, when he spends a few hours with his daughter who he’s never met before, is awkwardly sweet and touching. There’s a winter chill to this movie that never really warms up. Interesting but whisper thin.
This film looks good, makes great use of light and the small town rust belt setting, and yet you could pretty much dig this film’s grave during the grim strains of Eddie Vedder caterwauling over the opening credits. It’s like a mini Deer Hunter with a strong ensemble cast but neither its moody and engaging style nor Casey Affleck can hold up this clunky chunker.