Get Lucky!

Besides the fact that this guy is really old, there’s not a lot going on here.  But the old guy is Harry Dean Stanton, and I like him.  Seeing some other old timers was nice too.  The script is too full of contrived pontificating, but there is sweetness as well.  6/10

PS The director apparently has no direct familial relation to David Lynch.

Comparison Notes (recommended): Nebraska, The Straight Story, Bagdad Cafe

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Film Brief: Battle of the Sexes

If you’re looking for a respite from all the Friday the 13th movies this season, I’ve got just the ticket.  There’s something very vanilla about Battle of the Sexes, with direction — by two people — that adds up to a perfect cross of competent and after-school amateur hour.  But the movie does a decent job showing how prevalent and readily accepted sexism was in the early 70’s, to the point that it almost seems contrived.  And these well-played characters were fairly endearing, so 6/10.

Note for period filmmakers out there: don’t show skyscrapers in your movie that won’t be built for 10 years.  NG (not good).

Comparison Notes (recommended): Frost/Nixon, Foxcatcher, Best of Enemies

One to Watch: Ingrid Goes West

I first saw Aubrey Plaza in the delightful Safety Not Guaranteed and have relished her appearances ever since.  Ingrid Goes West pairs her with another fave of mine, Elizabeth Olsen (from among other things, the magnificent Martha Marcy May Marlene).  It can be thought of as a modern/social media take on Purple Noon/The Talented Mr. Ripley, which is to say there’s a lot of completely original material here.

Emily Yoshida, Vulture:

a hypercurrent satire of Instagram celebrity and the kinds of lifestyle aesthetics that flourish there, is such a vivid and minute portrait of our boho-chic, mid-century modern, reclaimed wood, custom typography, shrub-swilling, microgreens-on-heirloom-quinoa moment

And Peter Travers, Rolling Stone calls Ingrid Goes West a “bonbon spiked with arsenic, wit and malice.”

Ingrid Goes West will frequently make you feel uncomfortable.  But that’s a lot better than not making you feel at all.  8/10

Film Brief: Patti Cake$

I wouldn’t call it an “unambiguous joy,” as did the oft-overstated Manohla Dargis, but I did like it.  Jake Coyle, AP:

The Sundance sensation “Patti Cake$” may flow with formulaic beats but it’s got spirit for miles (eight of them, at least) and features one of the best mother-daughter relationships of the year.

I would have liked Patti Cake$ more had the music, in this case the rap, been more effective on me — only one track swayed me.  Call it a minor case of the Inside Llewyn Davis Syndrome.  Still though, on the high side of 6/10.

Comparison Notes (recommended): 8 Mile

Lady Macbeth Doth Protest Too Little

Lady Macbeth started and ran strongly for about the first two-thirds, before running into territory that was a bit mishandled, and less than optimal even if handled perfectly.  Still though, very good and fully engrossing — and the biggest reason is the film’s star.  Adam Graham, The Detroit News:

With quiet menace, [Florence] Pugh chews through director William Oldroyd’s handsomely composed period thriller like a rat gnawing through a wall.  She’s a force to be reckoned with, and her nightmare stare lingers longer than any poor sap who dares to get in her way.

Cath Clarke, Time Out London:

This brilliantly feminist British indie film plunges a cold, sharp knife into the back of bonnet dramas.

Indeed.  A lot of (evil) fun to be had here.  Maybe think of as a companion piece to The Little Hours, which is sticking with me enough that I’m considering bumping it up a notch.  Every time I think of it I smile inside.  As for Lady Macbeth: 8/10

Comparison Notes (all recommended): Les Amants Criminels, Lars von Trier films, especially Breaking the Waves; Elizabeth (Cate Blanchett), The Last Seduction, The Housemaid, Marie Antoinette.

Will we be among The Beguiled?

Lots of pros in The Beguiled.  I dug the lush homestead and the tight story.

Cons: Colin Farrell is a fine actor, and did a fine job here.  But there could be a more enigmatic, a more beguiling, if you will, character there.  His character was easy to read early on, which made the direction of the plot, i.e. its gradient, too easily discernible at any moment.

I look forward to Sofia Coppola’s films.  She may not always knock it out of the park, but she has an idea what she’s doing, and her films have a unique feel to them — if this one less than others.

* * *

A small movie like this must open up more dimensions, unless the one it chooses forges an exceptionally strong vector.  Still, compelling and entertaining.  7/10

Comparison Notes: the considerably more potent films Dead Calm and Misery