• Bringing Up Baby

    Bringing Up Baby

    ★★★★

    «This is probably the silliest thing that ever happened to me” says a half-defeated looking Carey Grant about halfway into this classic Howard Hawkes screwball comedy. The plot is certainly too silly to even begin to explain. I really tried at one point. Regardless I was too busy laughing through most of the film anyway. Bringing up baby is the kind of film that cruises by on Hollywood logic and movie star charm. Grant’s Huxley and Hepburns Vance are the…

  • Louis & Luca and the Snow Machine

    Louis & Luca and the Snow Machine

    ★★★½

    The 1975 Norwegian stop-motion classic Flåklypa grand prix ranks among my favorite pieces of Norwegian cinema, yet returning to the Flåklypa universe never felt like something I needed. Still 38 years later I suppose the material deserved a revisit and I am thrilled to see how well Jul i Flåklypa manages to capture the spirit of both author Kjell Aukrust’s voice and director Ivo Caprino’s vision without feeling derivative or alienating. At it’s core there is still that wonderful play…

  • A Room in Town

    A Room in Town

    ★★★★

    Making my way through Jaques Demy criterion releases, seeing the way his filmography developed has been quite interesting. Easily the darkest of the directors romantic musicals, Un chambre en ville plays like a pop opera, a tale of complex loves and attractions, social issues, jealousy and tragedy mostly played out in enclosed locations. Gone is the masterful, naturalistic blocking of The umbrellas of Cherbourg or The young girls of Rochefort. Instead it feels like the characters are moving on a…

  • Donkey Skin

    Donkey Skin

    ★★½

    This is among the oddest films I’ve ever seen. In concept a lush french fairytale musical by Jaques Demy sounds pretty lovely, but in execution this blend of classical, avant-garde and postmodernism felt rather dull, even if it is crammed of weird choices and near psychedelic visuals. The plot is pretty bonkers, classic fairytale stuff: a king mourning his dead queen wishes to remarry. The only princess in the world more beautiful than his late wife turns out to be…

  • Christopher Robin

    Christopher Robin

    ★★★

    A somewhat uncanny blend of sweet, imaginative fun and dour, bland adult drama. Christopher Robin is at its best when it finds itself in the spirit of A.A. Milne’s naive, uncluttered, life affirming insight into the childish and innocent. However, it far too often leans into noise, schmaltz and cluttered screenwriting. Ewan McGregor is fine as Christopher Robin, although he feels a little too old and under written. Most of the human characters feel rather barebones and the Hundred Acre…

  • The Young Girls of Rochefort

    The Young Girls of Rochefort

    ★★★★

    Nothing short of joyous. A bustling, colorful musical about love. Nothing more, nothing less. Following The umbrellas of Cherbourg director Jaques Demy seems to have infused every element of the classic musical he rejected in his previous film here. Elaborately choreographed dance numbers break up the plot, and dialogue and musical numbers lead into one another instead of overlapping. It’s just one fun, wide angle musical number after the other, Deneuve never looked as vibrant as she does here and the…

  • Elf

    Elf

    ★★½

    Will Ferrel has been doing the same shtick since at least 2000 and it’s just embarrassing to me. I appreciate Jon Favreau’s comittment to the craft. Working with forced perspective, stop-motion and some clear guerrilla shooting around NYC, but it is all in service of Ferrel acting like an overgrown child in a schmaltzy Christmas movie. Even if it makes sense for his character it is just not a very funny or interesting character. I suppose it is easy to…

  • The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

    The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

    ★★★½

    I often count Disney’s adaptation of The lion, the witch and the wardrobe among one of the most faithful fantasy book adaptations I’ve ever seen. Its a film that, for the most part, manages to include every important scene and character from its source material, along with most central themes. Perhaps that is also where some of its issues stem from. For a film that depicts such a magical adventure it feels a little devoid of personality, somehow. Obviously its…

  • The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

    The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

    ★★★★½

    After seeing two black and white Demy films the switch to color felt like a dream. This whole film is brimming with pastel goodness and garish wallpapers in sweet harmony. It’s a rich color palette always perfectly realized, yet it never feels too stylized or unnatural. Somehow the same goes for the films experimental musical style. A constant, lush jazz score accompanies the entire film as the characters sing every line, yet the actors feel and act naturally. Somehow it…

  • The Terminator

    The Terminator

    ★★★★

    Terminator feels like one of those little-movies-that-could. Essentially a b-movie elevated by high concept sci-fi, skillful filmmaking and state of the art special effects. Compared to later James Cameron films his breakout hit feels very stripped down and stylistically pure. Focused entirely on its central characters, no comic relief or over indulgent detours and a very serious tone. In many ways the film carries something of a John Carpenter influence in its commitment to tone with simple, but effective cinematography…

  • Anastasia

    Anastasia

    ★★★

    There are films you haven’t seen since you were a kid and watching them it is like a constant wave of deja vu hitting you over and over. Every scene turns into a “oh, I remember this!” moment. It’s curious how many childhood memories I have related to hearing “Once upon a December”, a song that still lulls me into a cosy, warm feeling. 

    Still, Anastasia is a lot stranger than I remembered. Not just because it has a half…

  • Panic Room

    Panic Room

    ★★★★

    A fairly boilerplate home invasion thriller, which I am a sucker for, elevated immensely through David Fincher’s command of his craft. This is, perhaps, one of the beat looking thrillers I’ve ever seen. All of it looks so insanely good and atmospheric. The constant torrential rain, the dimly lit interiors, the way the titular panic room keeps feeling both claustrophobic, yet big enough to fit all the tension and drama to sustain nearly two hours of running time, it’s all…