June 18, 2015

directed by David Gordon Green, 2014


Manglehorn dabbles in the strange and peculiar, but at its core, it may be director David Gordon Green’s safest and least rewarding drama yet. The film contains weird scribbles in its margins, but the narrative is thin and contains little to chew on. A.J. Manglehorn (Al Pacino) is a grizzled locksmith and wounded soul living in small-town Texas, still aching for a woman named Clara who got away many years ago. He sends regretful letters to her like clockwork but they always find a way back to his mailbox unread. Manglehorn now spends his days cutting locks, looking after his ill cat and making kind, flirty conversation with Dawn (Holly Hunter), the friendly bank teller he visits each week.

Read full review at Sound on Sight


Blu-ray Review: The River

April 21, 2015

directed by Jean Renoir, 1951

The River

The iconography most commonly associated with Jean Renoir’s The River (1951) can be linked, in most cases, not only to the film’s startling use of color, location, and exotic capability, but also to the immense difficulty of its production in the late forties. There also exists a proper devotion to memory, a sense of vivid recollection that concerns itself less with the politics of India, but one primarily centered on reflections of youth and how we interpret and misinterpret love. In this manner, The River, Renoir’s first color feature – shot entirely in India – is a delicate balance of simplicity and beauty, a wise coming-of-age tale that captures life’s transient nature in full effect.

Read full review at Movie Mezzanine


Interview: Joel Potrykus (Buzzard)

March 7, 2015


Movie Mezzanine: Buzzard is the third film in your “animal trilogy,” as you’ve called it. Were these always the three stories you wanted to tell in succession?

Joel Potrykus: Well, not exactly. Coyote [his short from 2010] just kind of happened on its own, and then once I started writing Ape (2012) and decided, yeah, it needs to be called Ape, we all kind of sat around and [decided] we need to do make this an official trilogy. So the trilogy idea didn’t start to happen until we were writing Ape, and I didn’t want to make something where if someone didn’t see Ape, they wouldn’t understand Buzzard. I feel like I told less of a story in the trilogy but more of an emotion, an idea, a feeling. It’s more just kind of a study on…I wouldn’t want to say politics, but a study on human nature from my perspective.

Read full interview at Movie Mezzanine


Blu-ray Review: Don’t Look Now

February 12, 2015

directed by Nicolas Roeg, 1973

Don't Look Now

Nicolas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now presents its world of grief as something both recognizable and sympathetic, but it’s also one that becomes more frighteningly askew and enigmatic with each passing minute. Endlessly resisting the urge to move forward and backward in any coherent straight line, the genius of Roeg’s 1973 supernatural horror landmark rests in its unsettling depiction of the compression of time. Despair, neglect, and irresponsibility all weigh down on the film’s primary characters, a British couple who have left their stateside home for Venice after the death of their daughter. Dread and tragedy seem to follow them everywhere, leaving the couple and the audience to intuit the unpredictable nature of the images and sounds Roeg presents us with. The film’s famous imagery has no doubt left a lasting impression over the years, but in revisiting the film via Criterion’s new edition, Don’t Look Now feels as chilling and timeless as ever.

Read full review at Movie Mezzanine


Blu-ray Review: La Cienaga

January 29, 2015

directed by Lucrecia Martel, 2001


The constant menace of ennui lingers over every frame in La Cienaga, director Lucretia Martel’s stunning début that unfolds with an unsettling nightmarish sprawl that seems to stretch on long after the credits roll. There are no instances of traditional horror present in this sweaty and sticky setting, only cyclical occurrences and the inevitability of repeated social rituals that fail to signify any sense of hope or escape for the film’s many characters. Observing the banal activities of a rich extended family in the summertime, Martel’s film is filled with a certain type of societal rot that only she could precisely construct with the sort of detail that is boldly applied here.

Read full review at Movie Mezzanine



January 26, 2015

directed by Daniel Barnz, 2014


In Cake, it takes about fifteen minutes for director Daniel Barnz to establish the ground rules for this familiar portrait of grief and addiction, followed up by another 90 minutes or so of dramatic clumsiness and eye-rolling clichés. Whether it is drugs, sex, or booze, each brings a routine numbing quality to the table for Claire Bennett (Aniston), a seemingly darkly comedic and scathing woman who we first meet in a support group for chronic physical pain. The group is discussing the recent suicide of one of their members, while Claire draws appalling gasps due to her candid sarcasm on the matter. Sporting facial and body scars as well as weedy hair, Aniston’s return to drama screams “I’m ready for recognition!” but Cake does a horrible job of providing Aniston with much to work with.

Read full review at Sound on Sight


2014 in Film

January 23, 2015

Another year in the books. A lot of good, a lot of bad, and a lot of whatever. Found myself watching less from other years due to my TV critic gig (100 titles or so viewed in theaters), something I’ll look to strongly rectify in 2015. Once again, TIFF was marvelous, not only did the festival produce a number of films seen in my top ten, and some truly great memories (everyone once in their life must witness an Abel Ferrara Q & A), but the cinephile camaraderie present at the festival was at an all-time high for me. Not many cinematic regrets in 2014 save for the fact that I skipped Don’t Go Breaking My Heart 2 and It Follows during TIFF in favor of more sleep. All in all, I got away pretty clean. But before I unveil my list for 2014, let’s take a look back at my favorites from 2013.

1. Under the Skin
2. Bastards
3. Upstream Color
4. Inside Llewyn Davis
5. The Immigrant
6. The Wolf of Wall Street
7. Drug War
8. Before Midnight
9. Jealousy
10. Stranger by the Lake
11. Manakamana
12. Our Sunhi
13. 12 Years a Slave
14. Closed Curtain
15. A Touch of Sin
16. At Berkeley
17. Side Effects
18. The White Reindeer
19. I Used to Be Darker
20. Her
21. The Strange Little Cat
22. This Is Martin Bonner
23. The Conjuring
24. Bullet to the Head
25. The Counselor

Now, for my 2014 favorites (list based on international premiere dates). Click on highlighted titles for fun stuff when applicable.

Honorable mention:
Force Majeure
Welcome to New York
Edge of Tomorrow
Still Alice
John Wick
Black Coal, Thin Ice
Step Up: All In
Beyond the Lights
Love Is Strange
The Babadook
Life Itself
Journey to the West

listen up philip
10. Listen Up Philip

9. Actress

goodbye to language
8. Goodbye to Language 3D

7. The Homesman

6. Inherent Vice

5. The Grand Budapest Hotel

4. Heaven Knows What

3. Boyhood

two days
2. Two Days, One Night

1. Horse Money