Playing Catch-Up — Z for Zachariah; These Wilder Years; The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Z for Zachariah (Craig Zobel, 2015). Based on a Robert C. O’Brien science fiction novel published in the nineteen-seventies, Z for Zachariah takes a somber approach to post-apocalyptic storytelling. Ann Burden (Margot Robbie) is living alone on a farm, maintaining … Continue reading Playing Catch-Up — Z for Zachariah; These Wilder Years; The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

From the Archive — Paris, je t’aime

There’s no particular inspiration for extracting this old review from the archive today. It is one of the fairly random raids of my old writing. The only annotation I’ll offer is the retrospective conviction that Alexander Payne’s segment is strongest in the film. It’s the one that has stuck with me. The new film Paris, je t’aime brings together eighteen directors (or teams of directors) to create short films celebrating the beloved city of the title. There is no through-line, no overlap, nothing that connects the pieces together. It seems everyone was given the the freedom to construct whatever they … Continue reading From the Archive — Paris, je t’aime

Now Playing: Hail, Caesar!

Much as I’m a devoted disciple of the work of the Coen brothers, I can admit there are all sorts of forecastable reasons to expect that a new film they’ve made might not quite work. The susceptibility to recurring flaws isn’t an automatic outcome of having such clear cinematic voices, but Joel and Ethan Coen have committed themselves so thoroughly to a bleakly comic outlook tinged with ironic detachment, a quality often conveyed with self-consciously rambunctious visuals, that certain predictable troubles can easily reoccur. Most noticeably, their viewpoint can manifest as a lack of sincerity that sets a narrative slamming into a … Continue reading Now Playing: Hail, Caesar!