Night Moves (2013) dir. Kelly Reichardt
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.
Brooklyn Castle (2012) dir. Katie Dellamaggiore
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.
Hard Day’s Night (1964)
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.
For Ellen (2012) dir. So Yong Kim
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.
Out of the Furnace (2013)
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.
The Dog (2013) dir. Allison Berg, Frank Keraudren
An interesting story & a couple of crazy personalities does not a good documentary make.
Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction (2013) dir. Sophie Huber
A gorgeous movie about HDS’s face - a face with stories to tell, but he doesn’t give away too much in this documentary. He sings several folk songs, talks a bit and smokes too much. I loved it.
I Am Divine (2014)
A loveable little film about the one and only Devine. Full of talking heads and fun stories from John Waters and filmmaking in Baltimore. There’s not a lot to this documentary, but it’s full of sweetness and love.
Boyhood (2014) dir. Richard Linklater
Moms! Man children fathers! Growing up! Life! Man, this is one beautiful movie that could have easily been called “motherhood”. So so good and I recommend it highly.
Le Cercle Rouge (1970) dir. Jean-Pierre Melville
Man, I really wanted to love this heist movie. I mean, there is a lot to like about it - the gorgeous ’70s film stock is so deliciously tasty you just want to eat it up. The amazing Alain Delon is great here, even with his moustache. There’s so many great cars! The whole film just looks fucking cool. But it’s waaaaay too long and drawn out, and I love slow moving films. Disappointing, but still recommended to watch at least once.
A Place At The Table (2012) dir. Kristi Jacobson & Lori Silverbush
The music that runs through this documentary is cringe-worthy awfulness and threatens to derail this well-meaning informational documentary about poverty and hunger in America. There’s a lot of valuable talking points about public policy and heart-wrenching personal stories and offers up solutions that governments seem to ignore. With all of this information available it makes you wonder what is wrong with America that it can’t feed its children.
Nights of Cabiria (1952) dir. Federico Fellini
Such a beautifully sad film about hope and dreams. This isn’t just a film about a plucky prostitute with a heart of gold, it’s about living the life as best you can. Loved this film.
George Harrison: Living in the Material World (2011) dir. Martin Scorsese
A rambling and unstructured 3 hour long documentary that is pretty inoffensive and interesting enough.
This is a bit of a cheeseball love story / musical that takes place in Dublin between a street musician/vacuum repairman and a piano-playing Czech immigrant. The music is inoffensive and the story is sweet enough that I feel charmed and taken in. It feels realistic which is a strange kind of magic for what is essentially a musical and a love story. The plot is thin and watered down, but I’m sure my mom would have loved this and sometimes that’s enough.
Hide Your Smiling Face (2013)
It’s hard to watch a movie where the director’s influences are worn so brightly on its sleeve. Like David Gordon Green’s George Washington, Stand By Me, The River’s Edge and so much Terrance Malik, Hide Your Smiling Face is tainted with the stains of other better movies. It’s sparse and slow but it doesn’t capture.