Bernstein with Hooker, Chaplin, Friedkin, Lowery, Taylor

Terminator: Genisys (Alan Taylor, 2015). The reeling lesson of the just completed summer box office season is that the recycled repetition of brand-driven moviemaking may finally be sputtering its last. The ideal case study as to why arrived one year earlier. Arriving six years after the previous attempt at franchise revivification, Terminator: Genisys shows precisely how hollow the endeavor can be. The film trots out a procession of touchstones — familiar lines, restaged scenes, echoed character beats — without a hint of a central vision or an ounce of soul. Director Alan Taylor brings that same sluggish blandness that made … Continue reading Bernstein with Hooker, Chaplin, Friedkin, Lowery, Taylor

Now Playing: Pete’s Dragon

In making a film, it takes some industrial strength confidence to include an explicit promise of magic. I don’t mean constructing a story around a boy wizard or some other spinner of spells, fancifully warping reality with the behind the scenes support of special effects technicians. I’m referring to the magic of the soul, the kind that stirs emotions and sets usually stolid hearts atingle. Having a character onscreen speak of such a transporting feeling is roughly akin to making a promise that a fictional piece of art that factors into a film’s narrative — a poem, a painting, a song — … Continue reading Now Playing: Pete’s Dragon