Billy Bob Thornton’s All the Pretty Horses had everything going for it
All the Pretty Horses should have been a sure thing, but was doomed by interference from one of history’s most notorious studio executives.
The sexual revolution freezes over in Ang Lee’s The Ice Storm
Ang Lee and James Schamus’ wise adaption of Rick Moody’s novel is also a triumph of art direction, casting, costuming, and sound design.
Harvey Keitel Calls First, in Martin Scorsese’s Who’s That Knocking at My Door?
Martin Scorsese‘s first feature film Who’s That Knocking at My Door? was shot over the course of several years, and was originally released in 1967 as I Call First. Its piecemeal origins are betrayed by two discrete sequences: one recounting the misadventures of a group of slacker friends in downtown New York, and a very […]
Jane Campion Visualizes the Invisible, in Bright Star
As an English Major in another life, I’m not uninterested in poetry, or Keats in particular. But movies about poetry are another matter. It’s difficult to imagine a less natural source material for the eminently visual medium of cinema than poetry. You can mute the sound, drain the color, or take off the 3D spectacles, […]
Christopher Nolan’s Fugue State: Inception
In his 1999 essay Celluloid Vs. Digital, Roger Ebert cites studies equating the experience of watching a movie to entering a fugue state: “film creates reverie, video creates hypnosis.” In other words, experiencing a film in the traditional manner, projected at 24 frames per second in a darkened theater, affects the brain in a way […]
A Problem With the Whole World: Dennis Hopper’s Colors
Dennis Hopper’s Colors may be a buddy cop flick on the surface, but it’s hardly typical high-concept Hollywood material. It does have a token overarching plot (involving a mismatched pair of cops tracing the perpetrators of a drive-by shooting), but it’s merely a loose thread to hold the movie together. If neither a character study […]
Kristin Scott Thomas is unshowy but brilliant in Philippe Claudel’s I’ve Loved You So Long
Writer / director Philippe Claudel’s I’ve Loved You So Long is a textbook exercise in the dramatic withholding of narrative information. Juliette (Kristin Scott Thomas) is released from prison after serving 15 years for an unspecified crime, and is unwillingly housed with her sister Léa (Elsa Zylberstein). Léa is initially her only ally, and her […]
The Tenuous Border Between Merely Scraping By and True Poverty: Courtney Hunt’s Frozen River
The title of Courtney Hunt’s suspenseful Frozen River refers to both a literal body of water separating countries, and to the tenuous border between merely scraping by and true poverty. Melissa Leo was rightly praised last year for her performance as Ray, a woman struggling to support two boys in upstate New York. Her family […]
Just Passing Through: Kelly Reichardt’s Wendy and Lucy
Kelly Reichardt’s Wendy and Lucy is, on its own terms, perfect. As such, it exposes the silly practice of rating films in numbers of stars, even if this particular blog is merely one movie lover’s journal of personal reactions, and not pretending to be objective criticism. So please interpret these five stars as meaning that […]
Sally Hawkins Finds a New Opportunity in Every Setback in Mike Leigh’s Happy-Go-Lucky
Poppy (Sally Hawkins) is a creature rarely encountered in movies and even less often in real life: someone genuinely happy. She’s not bothered by others’ life goals; at 30, she doesn’t have a baby or a boyfriend, own a house, or know how to drive, and none of these concerns are cause for existential angst. […]