Tag Archives: Movies (2013)

Patterns of futility: A Touch of Sin

A snake the length of a gas line slithers across a road. A cart horse is whipped with sadistic glee. Gangs extort travelers at the point of a gun. In A Touch of Sin, China is a country whose march … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Let the Fire Burn

It begins with Michael Ward, a thirteen-year-old with frightened eyes. Solicitous lawyers are patient as they depose him, the only child survivor of a 1985 Philadelphia police raid on the headquarters of MOVE. His mother Rhonda Africa was one of … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Wind Rises

Three years ago I watched Ponyo on a car ride to Walt Disney World with my grade-school-aged cousins. The Wind Rises, taken from a line in a lovely Paul Valéry poem, won’t play in that environment. Set in what T.S. … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Hey white boy — whatchoo doing in Africa: Captain Phillips

While it’s unfair to compare Captain Phillips to Gravity and All is Lost when it had the misfortune to open on the same weekend as the former and far outgrossed the latter, its elephantine approach to the white-guy-in-trouble trope should … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Redford Agonistes: All is Lost

The most enervated of movie stars, Robert Redford is a mystery, which is why he’s a star. Most actors dampen the hysterics when they cross forty: think Cary Grant, Redford’s costar Paul Newman. It’s true some actors don’t stop: Jimmy … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

It’s ‘porno’ not ‘pronto’: Don Jon

Actors who direct get more praise than they deserve because they know what a camera is and how to look good in front of it, a no-brainer decision that often means delegating those duties to an expert cinematographer (Charles Laughton … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Best films of 2013

I saw enough movies in 2013 to put the lie to one of the claims I’ve read: that we saw an awful lot of great movies. Whether conceding to the demands of “character development” (think about the leaden dialogue between … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

The clichés of mental illness: Short Term 12

Movies about mental illness are often fun, of the unintentional kind. Worried about debasing real trauma with the trappings of melodrama, aware of the histrionic possibilities for actresses who think it’s a stretch enough to land them an award named … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Fruitvale Station

Not long after midnight on New Year’s Day 2009, a Bay Area Rapid Transit officer shot twenty-two-year old Oscar Grant at Oakland’s Fruitvale Station. BART passengers caught the arrest of Grant and his friends on their flip and smart phones. … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

An occupier of post-male space: Spike Jonze’s “Her”

Set in a recognizable future but inhabited by characters who rationalize in early twenty-first century terms, Her is the male movie of the moment. Joaquin Phoenix plays Theodore, employed as a writer of handwritten letters for any occasion (a distant … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 4 Comments

Got torture if you want it: The Act of Killing

Frustrated by a president whose vacillations if he were chief executive in their own country would be adduced as the mark of a febrile political intelligence, the Dulles brothers paid dissidents and paramilitary officers to undermine the government of Sukarno … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

The wages of prayer: Paradise: Faith

A few minutes of watching Paradise: Faith and the experience of the next one hundred-ten minutes crystallizes: a punishing movie about characters whom the director thought needed punishment. The second installment of Ulrich Seidl’s trilogy (bookended, like life itself, I … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment