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Everything posted by Nathaniel

  1. This looks glossy and uninspired. Why see a movie called The Jungle Book when you've got three same-named films that each construct a compelling vision of the Kipling classic? The last one to bear that title was as eye-filling and goose-fleshing a children's film as you could want.
  2. You've got some good stuff coming your way. The Siodmak version opens with one of my very favorite noir scenes, but the remake is also excellent. One of the assassins is played by Clu Gulager, a longtime character actor who is something of a fixture around here. He practically lives at the New Beverly Cinema. I had dinner with him once and he's really nice!
  3. Well, I didn't make it out to see NOTFILM, doggonit. But at least this frees up some pocket money for this year's Noir City at the Egyptian! They're doing something a little different this year by opening the fest with a restoration of the rare Argentine crime film, The Bitter Stems. That should be good. It's too bad I'll be out of town for Flesh and Fantasy, which I've been aching to see again. Dead Reckoning, Deception, and The Captive City also look enticing.
  4. This is a promising series. I can't wait until you get around to reviewing Moon of Israel and The Big Fisherman!
  5. The Witch returns to 666 theaters (!) today. Call me an April fool, but I actually may see this, provided the local showtimes correspond to my teaching schedule.
  6. I've been missing so many things in theaters lately, but I'm going to try to catch NOTFILM, Ross Lipman's "kino-essay" about the Beckett-penned Keaton short of 1965. I hadn't heard about this odd, historic collaboration between two discrete geniuses until last week. It's delightful and humbling to know that cinema is still yielding up its treasures.
  7. I'm not opposed to it, either. I was just trying to meet those criticisms halfway. I guess I'll have to wait until I've seen Knight of Cups to really understand what Larsen is talking about.
  8. That is certainly an attractive evaluation, although I don't think it fully accounts for Malick's presentation of women as spiritually superior life-bringers. The Christian sensibility is dominant, but there may be the faintest whiff of Graves's White Goddess in there, too.
  9. Didn't notice your Tweet until just now, Jeffrey. Hmm. You get credit for being first!
  10. "The Revenant is the Donald Trump of this year's Oscars." - Richard Brody
  11. Eh? I would put it less disagreeably: Malick is a poet, and women are his Muse. I'm still eager to see eager to see this director "do" L.A.
  12. So, this film is about on par, artistically speaking, with an average episode of Rome. But darned if it doesn't do exactly what it advertises: offer a fresh angle on a familiar tale. Anatole France's classic short story "The Procurator of Judea" remains a classic model for this type of narrative, but the irony of that sketch is replaced, in the second half of Risen, by a "faith-based" piety that undermines the freshness of its telling. I wish the scenes with Jesus and his disciples were stronger. (Bartholomew is a disaster.) Nevertheless, Fiennes does well with an underwritten character, allowing us to read a growing sense of apprehension as it subtly registers on his chiseled face.
  13. Been thinking about the historical Eddie Mannix lately, and his role in the Loretta Young incident and other unsavory scandals, and how the Coens are essentially reinventing him for this movie, almost the way they reinvented Odets for Barton Fink. Only with Hail, Caesar! Mannix is almost the complete opposite of his real life persona, absolved (to use Christian terminology) of his egregious, mafia-like crimes. Only the Coens would do this. It's like the ultimate Hollywood inside joke. But who else besides them would "get" it?
  14. Nathaniel


    Watched this again last week. On the surface, Psycho may seem like a prolonged nihilistic black joke. But once you begin to think of "mother" not as a "she" or a "he" but as an "it," the film begins to take on a spiritual aspect.
  15. I think the problem has more to do with the fact that 99% of the population doesn't give a rip about Hollywood history or the Coens' puckish attempts at recreating kitschy musical numbers.
  16. Well, that was fun. I agree with everyone who claims it feels slight--a souffle compared to the meat-and-potatoes of, say, A Serious Man or even Inside Llewyn Davis--but as usual, there are hidden depths just begging to be sussed out. The Coens once again demonstrate an amazing felicity with images, especially the kind that subtly distort reality for satirical purposes. The scene that parodies a famous moment in Ben-Hur (1959) is so perfectly done that it will forever change how I view the original. It almost renders certain forthcoming period pieces (Risen, the Ben-Hur remake, etc.) superfluous and irrelevant! If A Serious Man is the Coens coming to grips with their Jewish heritage, then Hail, Caesar! is the Coens grappling with their inheritance as Hollywood filmmakers. It's a less withering portrait of the dream factory than Barton Fink (it leaves room for nobility, through the Mannix character, where the former does not), but it pokes holes in several cherished stereotypes--especially leftist screenwriters (take that, Trumbo!)--with equal giddiness. There are also some dark, unexplored subplots involving sexual scandals and H-bomb tests that bring us close to appreciating how paranoid the '50s really were for many Americans. But they never upstage the comedy. And that gag with Frances McDormand and the scarf--oh man. Worth the price of admission, as they say.
  17. Right on! I was planning on catching it at the Laemmle Playhouse last night, but I was bone-tired. I hope the DCP will recirculate soon.
  18. In 2015, I watched five five-star movies: Out of the Past, Under the Sun of Satan, Vampyr, Rocco and His Brothers, and The Hidden Fortress. Rather, I re-watched these films, because revisiting a great film is vivifying and puts things into perspective. And yet five isn't nearly enough. I'm aiming for at least one per month this year. It would be nice to discover a five-star film I've never seen before; perhaps a Mizoguchi or a Godard or a Lelouch. I certainly don't expect to encounter one in first-run theaters. Then again, miracles do happen.
  19. This is very special. I look forward to reading it from beginning to end once I see the new movie!
  20. This is still near the top of my "most anticipated" list. Mostly I'm curious to see how their attitude toward the business has changed since Barton Fink. That 25-year-old film thoroughly de-mythologized classical Hollywood; this one seems more like a celebration. But knowing the Coens as we do, we can be sure they have a few tricks up their sleeve.
  21. Nathaniel

    The Public Cinema

    Hooray for cine-clubs and conversations for the common good! Excellent article, M'Leary. I'd love to hear an entire article on "The Uneasy Conscience of Christian Film Culture" at some point.
  22. Nathaniel

    Bone Tomahawk

    I hope you'll forgive me the strong word choice, Jeffrey. I sized this up as a B-movie, and B-movies generally require tighter storytelling to make up for material deprivations. Giving the actors a long leash is the sign of a green filmmaker, but it's an oversight that, for its rarity, can almost be counted as a virtue. And when the cast is as good as it is here, the complaint loses some of its potency.
  23. Nathaniel

    Bone Tomahawk

    Saw this last night before going to bed. Big mistake, as I barely slept a wink! It makes for an interesting counterpoint to The Hateful Eight, insomuch as it thoroughly establishes the characters' humanity before exploring (exploiting?) the concept of inhumanity. I would agree that Zahn doesn't find a visual style to match the power of his concept. But this can be attributed to budgetary limitations. He obviously put a lot of care into the screenplay, and the excellent cast more than picks up the slack. The big problem for me is the pacing: sluggish and ponderous and always undermining the suspense. The two-and-a-quarter hour runtime is simply unforgivable for a film of this scope. I nearly gave up when, at around the half-hour mark, Patrick Wilson sits on the bed and reads an entire letter from beginning to end without a single cut. The setup, though, is classic western stuff, even though the last bit places it squarely in Eli Roth's wheelhouse. We haven't had many authentic horror westerns lately. Some examples might include Wellman's Track of the Cat, Mulligan's The Stalking Moon, and, more recently, Howard's The Missing (sort of).
  24. The lack of a single sympathetic character is certainly a focal point for understanding what Tarantino is attempting here, but it carries with it a depressing reminder that he has yet to create a single good character in his entire oeuvre. His inability to comprehend goodness neutralizes his moralizing. Even a misanthrope who understands chaos as the governing norm must take into account aberrant acts of kindness, compassion, empathy, etc. and acknowledge those anomalies as part of the fabric of reality. I can't seem to find any evidence to support that QT recognizes goodness as a category. I'm also convinced that Tarantino does in fact invite us to laugh at much of the violence (blaming the audience is a copout), but then switches gears when he wants to make a specious political statement. And there is no denying that Hateful Eight is more nakedly political than previous efforts. Consider the uses the Lincoln letter. As a side note, Agatha Christie has been evoked a number of times in reference to the whodunit subplot, but the film also resembles a claustrophobic Rod Serling chamber drama--particularly a Night Gallery episode called "The Waiting Room"--minus Serling's finely tuned moral compass and metaphysical sophistication.
  25. A friend of mine saw both cuts and said that all the extra footage occurs in the first half, and has to do with editing rhythm (i.e. substituting coverage for some longer takes).
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