Spy vs. Spy

August 31, 2015

Lest you think from previous posts that I’m too elitist and don’t see enough popular films, I’ll weigh in briefly on The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and Spy.

Although I think Armie Hammer and Alicia Vikander have great chemistry – loved all of their scenes together – I wanted a little more spunk and edginess from this Guy Ritchie vehicle. The ‘60s look is fun, but I wanted Ritchie to take things even further.

UNCLE

On the other hand, I laughed lot at Spy. Not that it’s great art, or anything, but this Paul Feig comedy scores high on the entertainment meter, and Melissa McCarthy (and a strong supporting cast) is a big part of the reason.

Spy

So, in this spy vs. spy battle, I have to give the edge to Spy. I enjoyed it more than I expected, which is always a viewing pleasure.

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Flat and Flatter

August 26, 2015

I’ve put this off as long as I can.

Ricki and the Flash is no Silence of the Lambs (probably the high water mark for Jonathan Demme’s directing career). Meryl Streep plays an aging rocker who left her husband and kids years before to find fame and instead is playing covers at a sparsely populated bar in Southern California with her boyfriend/band mate played by Rick Springfield.

A family crisis (involving her daughter character played by Streep’s real-life daughter Mamie Gummer) brings her back home to ex-hubby, played by Kevin Kline, his wife, and the original couple’s two sons.

No one is particularly glad to see her at first. Okay, maybe Kline’s character a little bit.

The film feels flat. Lots of unexplored emotional territory and too many mediocre cover songs played in full instead of in snippets to convey just why Ricki never made the big time.

Ricki

For all Ms. Streep’s considerable and celebrated technique, I never bought her in the role.

If that seems unkind, just wait to hear what I have to say about Grace and Frankie. This is the “flatter” part of the equation.
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GAZE 2015 and MR. HOLMES

August 5, 2015

No, these two really have nothing in common except what I’m about to relate!

Just had a great trip to Ireland (hope to return!) for the GAZE International LGBT Film Festival Dublin where a documentary I co-directed, Living in the Overlap, screened.

GAZE photo with Rose and Noel

Pictured here with Festival Programmer Roisin Geraghty and Festival Director Noel Sutton.

I returned to a query from my friend Teraesa asking whether or not she should see Mr. Holmes, which I have seen but not found time to write about. Since I’m flying out for the University Film and Video Association Conference in about two hours and still have to throw the things on my bed into a bag, I’m not going to do better here than what I managed to post in reply on her Facebook page:

If I can find a spare moment, I’ll try to post a paragraph on the blog…just got in from one work/fun event out of town and heading off for another in the morning. In short, I thought it was a tad slow at the beginning but ultimately quite rewarding. It’s hard after all this time to think of something new to do with the Sherlock Holmes character, but this film achieves it!

And, so it does. Well worth seeing. Strong performances, gorgeous landscapes, and a new twist on a familiar character. Win-win-win.

Mr. Holmes