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Entries in Reviews (641)

Monday
Oct072013

"Gravity" and The Limits of A Perfect 10

a version of this review originally appeared in my column at Towleroad.

There's a brief scene in Nicole Holofcener's engaging indie hit ENOUGH SAID that repeats enough times that it could be the chorus if the movie were a song. A massage therapist (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) arrives at the home of a fit male client who lives on the top floor of his building. Every time she arrives he pops out with a killer smile looking down to greet her. He never thinks to help her as she arduously lugs her massage table up the entire steep flight of stairs.  

Excuse the stretch but this is sometimes how it feels to write about movies. Especially the ones that are true lookers that you're still just not that into.

By any definition GRAVITY is the movie of the moment and by some measures it will come to be regarded as The Movie of the Year...

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Wednesday
Sep252013

Seven Notes on "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D."

It wasn't long into the pilot episode of Agents of SHIELD last night that I realized something unflattering about myself: loving Joss Whedon was so much more fun and pride-inducing when it was a subculture and not the culture. If you loved Buffy The Vampire Slayer AS IT WAS AIRING you were, in point of fact, a very awesome person. Everyone loves Buffy now so loving it is expected and the only reasonable thing to do. Yelling "first", which is stupid trolling when it happens virtually on the internet, is actually deeply pleasurable when rooted in real life. So writing about SHIELD now feels a bit lame since I know everyone will be doing the same. "It doesn't need your opinion!" you try to reason with yourself to prevent the babbling, knowing that talking about something that literally everyone is talking about is roughly the same ROI as talking about something that literally no one is talking about. In both scenarios no one notices in the din/silence. (But then you end up having one (opinion!) anyway because you always do. And it's Joss Whedon and you can't help yourself.)

Seven notes on the pilot after the jump...

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Monday
Sep232013

Review: Prisoners

This review originally appeared in my column at Towleroad

Thanksgiving in movies is usually overstuffed with dysfunction and hostility. Who can digest from all the bile at home? That's not the case in PRISONERS, the new dramatic thriller from undersung Canadian director Denis Villeneuve (Incendies), which is more retrograde in its approach with the family unit as something sacred and continually under attack. Despite the occassional interjection of ominous music (shut up Jóhannsson... there's plenty of time for your score later!) and an initially drab grey color palette, things seem realistically jovial at this get together.

The Dovers (Hugh Jackman + Maria Bello) are celebrating the holiday at the home of the Birches (Terrence Howard + Viola Davis) just down the street -- close enough to walk -- as they clearly do every year (or perhaps they trade off). The parents are realistically both amused and vaguely annoyed by their children, attentive but 'don't bother me' tired. It's only when the film leaves the homes of the Dovers or Birches that there's trouble brewing... somethings just off. Why did the movie open with a father/son hunting trip? Why is that strange RV parked on the road? Where did Anna's (Hugh's daughter) red emergency whistle go? Are Joy and Anna back yet? The two youngest children just went back to the Dovers to grab that red emergency whistle they wanted to p... OHMYGODwhere are Joy and Anna?

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Friday
Sep132013

TIFF: "Gravity" & "Eleanor Rigby: Him / Her"

Here's to grand ambition, the spiritual cousin of self-sabotage; whatever scale filmmakers are working on, it's a thin (blood)line that separates them. An noble arguable failure and an unwieldy arguable success from the Toronto International Film Festival will illustrate…

GRAVITY
The very talented multi-hypenate filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón has been MIA from cinema for the past seven years. He's presumably been huddled over various computers or engulfed in endless meetings trying to work out the logistics of bringing this epic outerspace survival drama to the screen. [more...]

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Friday
Sep132013

TIFF Quickies: Young & Beautiful, Honeymoon, and Belle

Brief notes on three more TIFF pictures

HONEYMOON
Maybe I would be a fan of Jan Hrebejk if I saw more of his pictures? He's been submitted three times for Oscar consideration in Best Foreign Film but of the three I've only seen his most recent Kawasaki Rose which I liked quite a lot. We don't yet know if the Czech Republic will submit his latest, Honeymoon, but it's an involving drama about our past selves and how well we know the ones we love. I really liked the gradual unfolding of its story-puzzle which takes place during a wedding weekend in which an uninvited gayish stranger spoils the proceedings for the bride and groom though they don't quite know why. Or maybe someone does but they're not saying. The relationships were intriguing and the groom is the sexiest ginger bearded actor this side of Fassbender. Though it maybe pushes too hard aesthetically in its climax, the final shots really moved me. 

Of note
: Fans of Nastassia Kinski will be delighted at the marquee treatment she receives here. She's not in the film but her late 70s early 80s stardom is a key plot point. B/B+

François Ozon and a British Costume Drama after the jump

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Tuesday
Sep102013

"At the Farm" or "By The Lake", Queer Films Among Best @ TIFF

This article was originally published in my column at Towleroad

The French famously call an orgasm "la petit mort" or, the little death. In two new French-language films playing at the Toronto International Film Festival (in full swing through next weekend) this euphemism forgets to be euphemistic. If you like your sex all mixed up with danger -- you know, the way straight people did during the mainstream erotic thriller years (the Glenn Close thru Sharon Stone continuum) -- consider these films 'must sees' when they hit your city. IF they hit your city. It's tough out there for art films, especially gay ones, as recently discussed in a fascinating piece at IndieWire mapping out the problems.

Prolific twenty-four year old writer/director/actor Xavier Dolan has been a sensation on the festival circuit and in Canada since his award-winning debut I Killed My Mother in 2009. Despite the accolades Dolan has yet to win the Stateside following he deserves, even among LGBT audiences. This is largely because his films are in French and they have had a weirdly hard time making their way onto US screens. I Killed My Mother was famously delayed and delayed and delayed again. Before I received a screener a couple of years ago I was convinced that it was an imaginary movie, dreamt up by journalists to make the rest of us feel jealous that we aren't fabulous enough to party in Cannes with them each May. Dolan's subsequent features, the stylish unrequited love triangle Heartbeats (also known as Imaginary Lovers) and the recently released three hour trans drama Laurence Anyways only increased his wunderkind reputation. His latest TOM AT THE FARM may well be his most accessible but reviewing it presents a challenge because the less you know about it going in the better.

Let's keep it very simple AFTER THE JUMP... 

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