Film Brief: The Disaster Artist

I was happy to see The Disaster Artist before it left theaters — and there was a nice crowd at the early Saturday evening showing a week or so ago.  It’s a good movie: entertaining and compelling.  8/10

She Uses Tangerine [Updated]

Tangerine - poster

Yes, that’s a play on the Flaming Lips.

Tangerine is the most talked-about indie of the year, and for good reason.  It splashes vibrant, ruddy, glowing color all over the gritty urban streetscape of Hollywood.  Then, as night falls on Christmas Eve, that patina is washed away, leaving only the ugly naked truth — and a few more laughs.

I’m going to draw an unlikely comparison to Boyhood, because movies are ultimately about the story.  And the story of Tangerine wasn’t bad, but neither was it great.  The same story with more bland, milquetoast characters would probably get a thumbs down — not just from me but most critics.  The audacious characters of Tangerine drive the narrative.

Tangerine - text blockYou can talk about how different, and how novel, a movie is — and I loved the novelty of Tangerine — but ultimately the story must be there.  So probably the best comparison of all: Beasts of the Southern Wild.  It’s like this whole new world you’ve never seen before.  This is what movies are supposed to do!  So how can you not be over the moon?  How can you not be wildly enthusiastic with your recommendation?  Because story matters.

Every once in a while I wish that some truly profound David Lynch – Inland Empire moment might burst forth to offer true, glowing transcendence — but it was not to be.  Still though, there is something endearing about Tangerine.  Like Beasts of the Southern Wild, my opinion has been raised upon reflection.  But also like Beasts, a more developed story would launch Tangerine into the stratosphere.  7/10

Update: A note I forgot to include: the film was shot almost entirely with three iPhones.  Inspiration to low-budget filmmakers everywhere.

The Shining Meets New Yankee Workshop

From the ridiculous to the sublime.  This 24-minute video is infinitely more satisfying and insightful than Room 237.  I had the opportunity to view LACMA’s Kubrick exhibit, and it was utterly fascinating.  Now I hope to see the traveling exhibit again, this time with Adam Savage’s hi-fi maze model.  He stated that the exhibit would be in San Francisco in 2016… so there you go.

Credit to Daring Fireball.

Anatomy of a Scene: I Origins

This year’s most-hyped indie is I Origins.  I’m a big fan Brit Marling, and, based on the trailer, it looks like it has potential.  So here’s hoping that it does not stumble like last year’s ‘big’ indies The East (also with Marling), The Place Beyond the Pines, and by far the biggest disappointment, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints.  The walkthrough below is good for those interested in moviemaking.

I Origins - Anatomy of a Scene


Lindsay Lohan Train Wreck

The Canyons is a new low-low-budget indie with Lindsay Lohan and porn star James Deen.  It looks like it’s probably a train wreck of a movie, which is perfectly appropriate for Lindsay Lohan.  Although there is some good, veteran Hollywood talent involved, I doubt I’ll bother to watch it.  But it has generated a couple positive by-products: a worthwhile Times review, which brings comparisons and always-welcome attention to the great classics Sunset Boulevard and Mulholland Drive.  In her review, Manohla Dargis calls the film:

a dispiriting, unpleasurable work punctuated with flashes of vitalizing vulgarity. It isn’t a good movie in terms of the conventional norms (acting for starters), but it also exhibits a crude integrity.

The Times published an even better, and extensive, magazine article on the movie’s making, colorfully depicting what it’s like at the desperate tail end of failed careers in the movie business, after those broken spirits have been chewed up and spit out, and are left hanging by a few threadbare lifelines.

The Canyons - on the set

Looking content on the set: the best acting of all?