Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Les Invisibles

2018, France, directed by Louis-Julien Petit

A picture that walks its walk, not only depicting the reaction of a group of women to the closure of their shelter, but actually casting women from homeless backgrounds in many of the key roles. While it certainly hits beats from the Full Monty school, sometimes pretty insistently, some of the spikier edges feel as though they've come from genuine collaboration between cast and director, and those fragments give the film its most significant charge.

If Beale Street Could Talk

2018, US, directed by Barry Jenkins

Not, perhaps, as luminously successful as Jenkins' previous Moonlight, but this is still very strong, grounded in very engaging performances and complemented by gorgeous photography, with an exceptionally rich palette of colours, and a warmth of feeling toward its characters (James Baldwin's characters) that's very affecting, though perhaps more beautiful than real. As much as we want to root for the pair, at times it feels as though the film's hardest edges lie in the background, in the lives, and traumas, of the other characters.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

2018, US, directed by Marielle Heller

Wonderfully absorbing, with two terrific performances: Melissa McCarthy gets to show more of her range, without having to bottle up her energy, and Richard E. Grant hasn't been as good for years. Heller has a great feel for the period and milieu of the film, or more accurately the multiple milieus, from grimy day-drinking bars to down-at-heel walk-ups to glimpses of the other side at swanky parties or warm academic havens. She also has a tenderness toward her characters, as weak and self-deluding as they can sometimes be, that's deeply affecting -- and gives lovely scenes to many of the supporting players.

Thursday, May 16, 2019


1988, Australia, directed by Steve Jodrell

A very strong 1980s film that sadly feels equally relevant today. It's grounded in a sharp analysis of toxic masculinity, grounded in a specific rural Australian reality but not in any way restricted to that environment, and features an excellent central performance by Deborra-Lee Furness, as an unapologetic, self-confident lawyer taking a solo trip through the outback. Her character draws on Western tropes, literally riding into the dusty small town and introducing a new vocabulary of justice. The film neither shies away from nor revels in its depiction of violence, and the conclusion comes as a genuine gut-punch.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Le Jeu

2018, France, directed by Fred Cavayé

Although very competently made (or rather re-made), and visually slick, the picture has little meaningful to say about the consequences of our modern technological obsession -- centered on a game wherein the characters allow the contents of their phones to be shared, the picture is all plot mechanics, no commentary.

Saturday, May 04, 2019

Bad Blood

1981, New Zealand/United Kingdom, directed by Mike Newell

A fairly straightforward retelling of the mass murder perpetrated by Stanley Graham in 1941, a series of crimes that was the culmination of a lengthy standoff with police over the surrender of weapons in wartime. There's a broader resonance in the New Zealand context of the man asserting himself in relation to the authorities, as well as the relationship with the bush, both a source of refuge and a threat (already explored in films like Sleeping Dogs and, later, in more sophisticated pictures like Utu). While the film is centered on Jack Thompson's character, Carol Burns, as Graham's wife, matches him beat for beat as his mental state collapses. The sense of a tight-knit, yet poisonous, community is very well drawn, and was surely influenced also by the aftermath of the Crewe murders, which would have been in the news throughout the 1970s (and which formed the basis for the film Beyond Reasonable Doubt).


List of all movies

Most of the images here are either studio publicity stills or screen captures I've made myself; if I've taken your image without giving you credit, please let me know.

About Me

Boston, Massachusetts, United States