2012 (2009)

Foreground – Background When you make a film that is nothing but flavored special effects, when you make the matter of those effects into a character, you have two decisions to make. The first is whether you are dealing with object or environment. This is a fairly significant decision because two different technologies and craft… Continue reading 2012 (2009)

Mystery Road (2013)

Wholeness in What You Sow All of us want to be genuinely ourselves, and nearly all of us are at the mercy of societal imprints with urges so great we cannot escape them. Few of us can be calm in ourselves. I suppose this is one reason we seek films that are genuine and/or characters… Continue reading Mystery Road (2013)

Rio 2 (2014)

People, Not Situations Getting back into thinking about how narratives get put together, I am reminded of how many radically different strategies there are in approaching a film. If you talk to the (old) Pixar guys, what you’ll hear is a focus on story, a cinematic notion of story, above all else. The story comes… Continue reading Rio 2 (2014)

Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Detectives There’s something profoundly offensive about this. Oh, it isn’t the gratuitous catalog of stereotypes. It is the fact that they are stereotypes, unmodified in any way. It isn’t that it doesn’t move, but that it does so without passion. Borrowing is part of life, but a simple collage is different than a living ecosystem.… Continue reading Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Top Gun Maverick (2022)

Practical Performance Gosh, there is so much not to like here, on top of the fact that this reinforces a positive trend in film; the effects are largely practical, pitting Cruise against Cameron for the future of film. We could probably stand the competition for our imagination. I heartily endorse it, and I think it… Continue reading Top Gun Maverick (2022)

The Stunt Man (1980)

Citizen Crane There are quite a few movies like this, films that reference films and that also aver that the drama within can bend the reality without. The kernel of this idea was ‘Citizen Kane’ but it seemed to flower after John Fowles published ‘The Magus’ and the Beatles followed his lead. This one has… Continue reading The Stunt Man (1980)

Ignition (2001)

Wet Powder, Powerful Powder This little disaster probably resulted from 9-11. I get the impression that the project was halted halfway through and was just shoved out in this form. No great loss. But it does have two interesting elements. The first is Lena Olin. I think she is one of the most interesting woman… Continue reading Ignition (2001)

If I Had a Million (1932)

Two Leers The thirties had more experiments in exploring genres than any other time. One of those was the episode genre. It has become only a curiosity in later years because a great many films (and most comedies) are just a series of episodes loosely connected. In this case, the connection is a millionaire who… Continue reading If I Had a Million (1932)