From the Archive: Grizzly Man

This originally appeared in my former online home. I was still getting back in the swing of writing movie reviews when this posted. The new film from sorta nuts German director Werner Herzog is a documentary about Timothy Treadwell, a failed actor who spent years in the Alaskan wilderness observing, bonding with, obsessing over and serving as self-proclaimed “protector” of a large group of grizzly bears. An inveterate ham, Treadwell documented his experience with a video camera, shooting hours of footage which Herzog merged with new interviews to give us a potent picture of a damaged individual who sought some … Continue reading From the Archive: Grizzly Man

From the Archive: Mirrormask

The review, first posted in my former online home, is absolutely jam-packed with the affectations that I eagerly adopted when I started seriously writing for a digital platform, including an overturned Lego crate worth of hyperlinks and a correctly formatted trademark symbol. Almost every original link was now dead, but I did my best to rebuild them accordingly. I’m especially pleased to note that I’m fairly certain that I corrected determined the hideous comic book covers I opted for to accompany “other material sharing space.” It is perhaps easy to intuit that the reasoning behind plucking this particular review from … Continue reading From the Archive: Mirrormask

From the Archive: Pride & Prejudice

This was written fairly early in my return to movie reviews, when I was finally figuring out how to make reasonable use out these online tundras. When adapting a Jane Austen novel such as Pride & Prejudice, it must be sorely tempting to try every conceivable trick to make it visually engaging. This sort of period piece from the Approved Canon of Great Literature is especially prone to becoming the sort of staid veddy, veddy English film that Eddie Izzard once identified as “a room with a view with a staircase and a pond type movies.” (“What is it, Sebastian? … Continue reading From the Archive: Pride & Prejudice

From the Archive: Sin City

There was talk about a Sin City sequel after from the very moment of its release. Much as I loved the original film, I never thought returning to the stylized world was a good idea. I’m somewhat surprised anyone still maintained there was any wisdom in the idea after Frank Miller delivered a colossal bomb with the de facto sequel found in his official directing debut, the film adaptation of Will Eisner’s The Spirit. This piece was included in my year-end countdown after I’d started writing film reviews again at my original online home. As the first sentence notes, I … Continue reading From the Archive: Sin City

From the Archive: Walk the Line

As I’ve noted before, 2005 was the year that I took advantage of the bountiful blank page afforded me by the interweb and started writing movie reviews again. I tend to to think of it as a relatively slow development process, from noodling around to full-length reviews. But it seems I got to the destination a little more quickly than I remember, as this take on the Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line, written just a few months after I’d recommitted to writing about movies, has a hearty word count. There are two moments in the new Johnny Cash biopic … Continue reading From the Archive: Walk the Line

From the Archive: King Kong

So…modern remakes of giant monster movie classics seem to be on my mind for some reason. This review was written for my former digital space This is when I was still deeply enamored with the idea of building hyperlinks into the reviews, an inclination that, I’ll admit, I haven’t fully shaken. Or maybe haven’t shaken at all. As it turns out, I and my partner in all things saw this movie on a trip to New York City, where we walked within view of the Empire State Building on the way to our next stop. It added some resonance to … Continue reading From the Archive: King Kong

From the Archive: The Aristocrats

This review originally appeared in my original online home. This wasn’t the first full review I posted there, but I tend to think of this as the piece that made me decide I was going to commit to writing about film on a regular basis in that space. I felt more like I was tinkering with the previous reviews I’d included there (including my assessment of The Constant Gardener, which this was coupled with, explained the “Then there…” that opens the review), but this effort helped me rediscover the pleasure of grappling with a movie, breaking apart what did and … Continue reading From the Archive: The Aristocrats

Almodóvar, Argott, Butterworth, Fellowes, Scorsese

Separate Lies (Julian Fellowes, 2005). Following his Oscar win for scripting Robert Altman’s exemplary Gosford Park, Julian Fellowes made his directorial debut with an adaptation of an an old novel by Nigel Balchin. The film focuses of a busy, distracted solicitor whose marriage begins to fray, a situation compounded when the death of a local man in a hit-and-run car accident brings secrets to light and sets everyone reeling into a series of moral compromises. The stuff of high drama is certainly present in abundance in the story, and with Tom Wilkinson, Emily Watson and Rupert Everett at the head … Continue reading Almodóvar, Argott, Butterworth, Fellowes, Scorsese

Demme, Gibney, Macdonald, Redford, Siegel

The Agronomist (Jonathan Demme, 2003). I greatly admire Demme’s commitment to interspersing documentaries and other non-fiction offerings throughout his filmography, but I also need to sadly concede that this is not a strong effort. The film examine the life and contentious career of Jean Dominique, who operated a Haitian radio station committed to bringing information to the citizenry and speaking truth to power, especially during times when the country was being crushed by oppressive regimes. It’s easy to root for him, but Demme’s approach is too sedate, too withdrawn. This impassive approach prevents the film from becoming anything beyond a … Continue reading Demme, Gibney, Macdonald, Redford, Siegel

Outside it’s a bright night, there’s an opera at Lincoln Center, movie stars arrive by limousine

Blow Out (Brian De Palma, 1981). De Palma is a fascinating figure to me. He emerged with the film school generation of the seventies, standing shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Scorsese, Coppola and Spielberg, indeed earning the most rapturous reviews bestowed upon any of them by the grand doyenne film critic of the era. To this day, there are a fleet of people who will proudly stand up and talk about every scrap of his output as if it were the needs to be studied with the unwavering attention usually reserved for the peak offerings of Welles or … Continue reading Outside it’s a bright night, there’s an opera at Lincoln Center, movie stars arrive by limousine