Broomfield, Demme, Radice, Safdie and Safdie, Truffaut

Ricki and the Flash (Jonathan Demme, 2015). By the last third of the film, it seems clear that Demme’s chief motivation for taking on this project is the opportunity to apply his extensive experience directing concert films to this fictional story of a derelict mother (Meryl Streep) who fronts a bar band. He certainly demonstrates only passing interest in the tepid familial drama in the script, written by Diablo Cody with a equal freedom from her previous dialogue quirks and recognizable humanity. When Streep’s bedraggled singer returns to her former home, responding to a suicide attempt by her daughter (Mamie Gummer), every … Continue reading Broomfield, Demme, Radice, Safdie and Safdie, Truffaut

Spectrum Check

This week, I was all over the site, beginning with a movie review of a offbeat new documentary about, at least in part, the collision between man and nature in the American south. It’s a movie built on so much abstraction that it was a challenge to write about. It was also tough to write about the new New York Times documentary, though for different reasons. It’s a fairly straightforward work and picking out what does and doesn’t work with it was correspondingly straightforward. However, I have such an investment in trumpeting the continued valued of traditional mass media, that … Continue reading Spectrum Check

Carpenter, Cronenberg, Ford, Truffaut, Wright

Hanna (Joe Wright, 2011). Well, I’ll say this for director Joe Wright: He’s not going to be pinned down. He made his feature debut with a Jane Austen adaptation and followed that with a prestige picture based on a Ian McEwan novel. Then came a fairly drab issues picture largely about the homeless community in Los Angeles. The bank shot away from that reunites him with Atonement Oscar nominee Saoirse Ronan for a bizarre action film about a teenage girl who was raised in isolation to be an unstoppable assassin. The film is balanced awkwardly between stylish action and moody … Continue reading Carpenter, Cronenberg, Ford, Truffaut, Wright

Spectrum Check

Though I was largely absent last week, I had a few things stockpiled for use at Spectrum Culture, largely because I’m way behind on my CD reviews. In fact, I’m still trying to catch up on all that. I provided a lukewarm assessment of the latest Steve Earle album and an even less enthused consideration of the new outing from the Wave Pictures. The Earle record was assigned to me, but the latter was my own damn fault. I asked for it. Which brings me to the new movie review I wrote for this week. Without getting too deep into … Continue reading Spectrum Check

Spectrum Check

There was a time when Uma Thurman was an actress that demanded attention. If she was in a film, it merited at least some amount of consideration. Maybe the finished project was actually not very good (or even downright awful) but she alone made it something that at least went into the “maybe” pile when sorting out film-going options. Sadly, I’ve noticed lately that, as I spin the digital dial considering movies to add to our overstuffed DVR, the opposite is now true. Uma’s inclusion in the cast list–especially at the top of it–is a signal to stay away. I … Continue reading Spectrum Check

Spectrum Check

When last we did this check, I was a meager contributor to the Spectrum Culture site. This week was a far different matter, with my words cropping up all over the place. First, there was my latest contribution to our WTF feature. My previous outing, I opted for horror films, but this time I went for one that was scary in an entirely different way: Otto Preminger’s 1968 disaster Skidoo. If only I could have watched it anew before writing, but the Preminger estate works overtime to keep this one as far from the public eye as possible. Another bit … Continue reading Spectrum Check