Sunday, November 27, 2016


A white bricklayer and amateur drag racer (Joel Edgerton) builds a home in segregated rural Virginia and travels to Washington, D.C. to wed his black wife (Ruth Negga). Soon they find themselves dragged from their home, jailed, and charged under an anti-miscegenation law, a case that would eventually get picked up by the ACLU and lead to a landmark 1967 Supreme Court decision. In telling the story of Richard and Mildred Loving, Jeff Nichols curiously opts for a leisurely approach, forgoing drama, characterization, and narrative drive resulting in a bland, disappointing outing. Edgerton and Negga give it an admirable go but simply are just not given enough to work with.
** out of ****

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Short Cuts

A man and his fishing buddies refuse to let a dead body ruin their weekend expedition, the revelation leaving his wife not knowing how to respond; a baker harasses a couple remiss in picking up a cake for their son, not knowing that the boy was just involved in a serious car accident; a phone sex operator's line of work secretly frustrates her husband; a philandering cop's extracurricular activities only amuse his knowing wife while he attempts to rid himself of the yelping family dog and carries on with a miserable single mother being targeted by her jealous ex. These are just of few of the stories that comprise Robert Altman's ambitious intersecting LA set anthology drawn from a sampling of Raymond Carver's short stories. While not all the threads are woven into a satisfying patchwork, the ending feels somewhat cheap, and the changes to the Carver stories aren't always an improvement, it is such an impressive, observant assemblage featuring a sprawling, talented cast and the kind of picture that puts today's "interconnected/hyperlinked" movies to shame.
*** 1/2 out of ****

Friday, November 25, 2016

The Purple Rose of Cairo

A bored waitress, trapped in a loveless marriage to a no good drunken lout (Danny Aiello) in Depression era Brooklyn, seeks daily escape at her local cinema when one day the star (Jeff Daniels) of the latest trivial adventure romance walks right off the screen to sweep her off her feet while throwing the studios, the media, and her personal life into complete chaos. Woody Allen's The Purple Rose of Cairo is charming, whimsical, creative, and modestly funny. Farrow is lovely, Daniels excellent in dual role (also playing the actor trying to track down his rogue character), and Aiello is strong in support.
*** 1/2 out of ****

Saturday, November 19, 2016

The Address

A year in the life of severely learning disabled students at the specialized Greenwood School in Putney, Vermont who are required to recite The Gettysburg Address verbatim at the end of the term. I feel like a heel digging into this documentary, and yes the students and staff seem genuine, but this resembles the kind of amateurish pap meant to "inspire" first year college students in a teaching program. As for Ken Burns, while sneaking in Civil War photos and giving a haphazard summation of that campaign, this kind of project seems beneath him. To be fair, the final speeches and a field trip to the battleground were impressive.
** 1/2 out of ****

Sunday, November 6, 2016


Jean-Claude Lauzon's imaginative film grows on you, is even moving in segments, but is told in a pretentious, philosophical tone with a depraved, scatological, international sense of humor that feels like a mashup of Salo and a Roberto Benigni movie. Leolo raises a question in how far brownie points should go in terms of originality and creativity for receiving a movie and I imagine that some will find it more endearing than others.
** 1/2 out of ****

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Nanook of the North

In 1914, explorer Robert J Flaherty decided to document an Inuit family he had befriended along the Hudson Bay area in Canada and, in doing so, essentially pioneered a brand new form of nonfiction filmmaking. His silent documentary features memorable scene after memorable scene and remarkable footage of an enchanting sept. Impressive for its time or any time for that matter and its influence is incalculable.
**** out of ****