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

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Film Brief: Hidden Figures

hidden-figures-text-blockHidden Figures is quite formulaic, but nonetheless entertaining, and, as it depicts real lives and history, somewhat edifying.  My own experience causes me to question the accuracy of events within the NASA centers.  The math and operations often seemed more Hollywood than scientific.  A scant few viewers will notice this glitch.

To put it another way, the Rotten Tomatoes (yes, still useful) summary:

In heartwarming, crowd-pleasing fashion, Hidden Figures celebrates overlooked — and crucial — contributions from a pivotal moment in American history.

The timing on this movie is good too, given the politics of the clown administration.  7/10

Film Brief: The Two Faces of January

The Two Faces of January - poster smallAnother lame movie title, but it seems to fit this anachronistic piece.  The Two Faces of January was a novel written by Patricia Highsmith in 1964.  She wrote Strangers on a Train and The Talented Mr. Ripley, which was turned into the brilliant French and Italian thriller Purple Noon (1960).   But this production is not brilliant, the direction not adept enough to flesh out the potential of the source material into a great psychological thriller.

The story kept me engaged well enough, but its development began to feel amateurish in the second half, and the ending was exceptionally weak, even goofy.  Not where this movie was trying to head.  And sadly, the Greek sites were not played up or presented at all well.  5/10

Friday Fun Flick: Bring It On

Bring It On posterFirst I must give credit to Jack Flacco and his post on Bring It On’s heroine Torrance Shipman.

This is a good-natured movie about high school cheerleaders.  There is nothing original in the plot — trying to win a cheerleading competition against all odds yada yada.  But, as Flacco points out, Kirsten Dunst’s Torrance is one dynamic chick:

When I hear people say, “Oh, she’s only a cheerleader.” I say, “Yeah, can you perform a front handspring, step out, round off back handspring, step out, round off back handspring, full twisting layout?”  That’s when the glazed look falls on their face.  Torrance can.  I wouldn’t have her performing full twisting layouts on Women Who Wow Wednesday otherwise.

Kirsten Dunst is among the most prolific and versatile actresses of her generation.  Bring It On, besides being a fun time at the movies, represents one end of that talented spectrum.  Watch this, then watch one of her more serious turns, for example in All Good Things, Melancholia, or Levity.  Mix in Marie Antoinette and you’ll understand what I mean.  Really like her.

Ryan Gosling Movies on Netflix

After I posted yesterday on Blue Valentine, I was surprised to find out that it is available  via streaming on Netflix, which is like having a free rental if you already have the subscription.  A quick follow-up revealed that three more Gosling pictures are available: Lars and the Real Girl, Drive [prior post], and All Good Things (with Kirsten Dunst).  I recommend all of these, but Lars and the Real Girl was my introduction to Gosling and is an utterly charming, delightful picture.  When I saw Crazy, Stupid, Love. a couple years later, I had forgot that this sophisticated ladies man was the same actor who played Lars, a character that Ebert described as:

a painfully shy young man who can barely stand the touch of another human being. He functions in the world and has an office job, but in the evening, he sits alone in a cabin in the back yard of his family home.

When I connected the disparate Crazy, Stupid and Lars roles to the same actor, I was struck by the range of Gosling.  Mixing in his other performances, you’d be hard pressed to make a case for another actor who’s any better.

All Good Things - click for trailer

All Good Things – click for trailer

Two Andersons a Coppola

from email 30 May 2008

Hello all,

I’ve been wanting to write a little on what I know of the films of Wes Anderson and Paul Thomas (credited as p.t. in earlier films) Anderson.  As I said before, these are two very different directors not related to one another, at least not by “Blood” (I’ll explain that later).  However, I pair them because they started making films around the same time, in the mid to late ’90s, which is also when I became aware of them, and because that they each have unique characteristic filmmaking styles.  As different as they are I always think of them together.  Somehow like a “Bizarre Love Triangle” I fit Sofia Coppola into the mix – sort of a female counterpart to the two Andersons, with a style and perspective as different from the Andersons as they are from each-other.   Coppola shares some actors with at least one of the Andersons, so a link there too.

A couple notes: I’ve added Erik to the distribution on these as he expressed an interest.  And again, unless I specify otherwise, I am writing only about films that I recommend, and usually greatly so, as long as you’re in that sort of mood.  Because there are so many films I want to touch on, I am not going to provide much of a review or analyis on any one film, but hit a couple key points. Continue reading