Jan 31, 2015


'If Apple ever got their hands on Florence Nightingale they might end up with something like Baymax, the big, inflatable white blob at centre of the new Disney animation Big Hero Six. Baymax is a robot care-giver who asks people “On a scale of one to 10, how much does it hurt?” in a soothing, slightly effeminate voice like that of HAL from 2001 (in actuality Scott Adsit from 30 Rock), and who dispenses hugs that envelop you like a duvet — “It’s like spooning a marshmallow,” says one of the teen heroes of the tale, although adult viewers may find older memories prodded by Baymax’s air of poly-poly befuddlement. When his batteries are low, he lollops drunkenly across the screen like Chaplin on the deck of a rocking boat in The Immigrant, and when he gets stuck in a window — that old routine — he extricates himself by partially deflating himself with a gnatlike peeooowwww sound while maintaining a straight face that would be the envy of Buster Keaton. But then deadpan has always been the secret weapon of animators: Keeping a straight face is so much easier when you’re nothing but a straight line to begin with.  One of the best reasons to watch kid’s cartoons is to brush up on your physical comedy. You used to be able to tell Chuck Jones and Tex Avery cartoons apart by whether they focused on the character’s face after it was blackened by an exploding bomb or in the last few ticking seconds before it went off. The best of today’s kid’s movies play like silents, from the Chaplinesque pleasures of Pixar’s WALL-E, to the first ten, almost completely wordless minutes of UP. (Sometimes you feel all they do up at Pixar is watch old silent shorts.) Big Hero Six doesn’t match the grace of those films, but it’ll do for no.' 
— from my review of Big Hero Six for Intelligent Life

Jan 28, 2015


Bob Dylan – Shadows In The Night (Columbia, 2/3)
Van Morrison – TBA (RCA)
The Decemberists – What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World (Capitol, 1/20)
Jose Gonzalez – Vestiges And Claws (Mute, 2/17)
Lana Del Ray — HoneymoonPassion Pit — TBA
Florence and the Machine
Adele — 25 TBA
Coldplay — A Headful of DreamsEllie Goulding — TBA
School Of Seven Bells – TBA
Band Of Horses – TBA
Laura Marling – Short Movie (Ribbon, 3/24)
Death Cab for Cutie — TBA (Atlantic, March)
James Blake — Radio Silence TBA
Beach House TBA
Radiohead — TBA
Father John Misty — I Love You HoneybearJustin Bieber — TBA
Corinne Bailey Ray — TBA
Drake — View From The 6 Fleetwood Mac — TBA

Jan 24, 2015


From my review for Intelligent Life:
'Finally, there is his wife Anna (Jessica Chastain), a beautiful gorgon in figure-hugging Armani and long ruby nails with which she ticks off points in the air, itching to call in her mafioso brothers and father to sort things out. “You’re not going to like it when I get involved,” she purrs,   like Jersey shore’s answer to Lucrezia Borgia.  The performance could easily have curled into camp and Chastain knows it: she nails things down tight, controlling carefully an accent it must have been tempting to let run loose, wielding her heavy lipstick and false eyelashes with the same fierce control she prods at her calculator with a pencil while doing the firm’s accounts. It’s fast turning into Chastain’s métier, after making her film debut for Pacino in his version of Wilde’s Salome: women who have tamed the  tigress of their own sexuality to make it do their bidding — lion and tamer in one.' 

Jan 15, 2015

A David looking for a Goliath

'One hesitates to use the word “egoless” with regard to Hollywood but one of the pleasures turned up by this year’s awards season has been watching the director Richard Linklater’s Capraesque path to and from the winner’s podium. His film "Boyhood", shot over a 12-year period in the life of its teenage hero, played by the newcomer Ellar Coltrane (above), has been the unlikely frontrunner to win the Best Picture Oscar since October. Unlikely because nothing about Linklater’s gently indolent films—from his debut, "Slacker", to "Dazed and Confused" to the "Before Sunrise" trilogy—exactly shouted “Oscar”. They don’t shout much of anything at all, offering up small-scale epiphanies and stoner pensées in a spirit of patient pointillism not a million miles away from the films of Eric Rohmer. Linklater himself has the matte, low-key affect of someone who comes to fix your fridge and stays to unblock your sink and then—since he’s here—rehang your pictures. Wherever James Cameron comes from in the moviemaking universe, Linklater hails from the opposite corner. There’s absolutely zero danger of him proclaiming himself "king of the world" if—as looks increasingly likely—he makes his way to the stage of the Kodak theatre to pick up Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director next month. Instead he is likely to do what he did at the Golden Globes last weekend: get up on stage and pump everyone’s hand, as if he’s at the biggest job interview of his life, and then deliver a speech almost entirely lacking in the false humility with which the egomaniacal traditionally adorn themselves on such occasions. He will be faltering, awkward, not quite up to the occasion, maybe even a little disappointing. That is how an honest man shows up on Oscar night.' 
— from my Oscar handicapping piece for Intelligent Life

Jan 1, 2015

Most Anticipated Movies of 2015

Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens — dir. J J Abrams 
 Hail Caesar (Universal) — dir. Joel and Ethan Coen w/ Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Channing Tatum, Tilda Swinton, Ralph Fiennes, Jonah Hill
Hughes — dir  Beatty, w/ Alden Ehrenreich, Lily Collins, Matthew Broderick, Annette Bening, Alec Baldwin, Martin Sheen and Candice Bergen  
Crimson Peak — dir. del Toro w/ Chastain (Oct 16th)
St James Place — dir. Spielberg  w/  Tom HanksMark Rylance, Amy Ryan, Alan Alda 
Inside Out (Pixar) — dir. doctor w/ Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling, Bill Heder, Lewis Black   
Mad Max: Fury Road dir. George Miller w/ Tom Hardy (May 15) 
Far from the Madding Crowd dir. Thomas Vinterberg w. Mulligan (May 1) 
Tomorrowland dir. Brad Bird (May 22)

Trainwreck dir. Judd Apatow (July 17) 
 The Martian (dir. Ridley Scott, November 25)
Joy dir. David O. Russell w/  (December 25) 
Our Brand is Crisis (Warner Bros.) — dir. David Gordon Green‘s with Sandra Bullock, Scoot McNairy, Billy Bob Thornton, Anthony Mackieand Ann Dowd
Beasts of No Nation — dir.  Fukunaga w / Elba   
Everest (Universal) — dir. Baltasar Kormákur w/ Jake Gyllenhaal, Josh Brolin, Jason Clarke, John Hawkes, Sam Worthington, Keira Knightley, Robin Wright 
That's What I'm Talking About — dir. Linklater   
Life (no distributor) — dir.  Anton Corbijn w/ Robert Pattinson Dane DeHaan  Ben Kingsley, Joel Edgerton 
 The Revenant (20th Century Fox) — dir.  Alejandro González Inarritu (director/screenplay) w/ Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Will Poulter, Domhnall Gleeson 
Triple Nine — dir. Hillcoat w/ Winslet, Harrelson, Ejiofor, Affleck (Sept 9th)
Carol (Weinstein Co.) — dir. Todd Haynes w/ Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Sarah Paulson, Kyle Chandler  
Midnight Special — dir. Nichols w/ (Nov 25th) 
Ricki and the Flash — dir. Demi — w/ Streep (Aug 7th)
Sea of Trees (no distributor) — dir. Gus Van Sant w/ Matthew McConaughey, Ken Watanabe, Naomi Watts, Katie Aselton, Jordan Gavaris 
Knight of Cups (no distributor) — dir. Terrence Malick w/ Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Natalie Portman, Brian Dennehy, Antonio Banderas, Freida Pinto, Wes Bentley, Isabel Lucas, Teresa Palmer
 Maps to the Stars dir. David Cronenberg w/ Julianne Moore   Mia Wasikowska  John Cusack, Olivia Williams and Robert Pattinson (February 27) 
While We're Young  dir. Noah Baumbach w/ Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried (March 27) 
Queen of the Desert dir. Werner Herzog w/  Nicole Kidman, Robert Pattinson, Damian Lewis and James Franco.