Monthly Archives: June 2013

We Own The Night (James Gray, 2007)

Howard Hawks said that a good film has three great scenes and no bad ones. We Own The Night argues otherwise. A brilliantly directed car chase, a drug deal gone wrong, and a great finale provide delicious icing on a poorly baked cake, and no scenes are outright bad, but the film as a whole […]

Paradise: Hope (Ulrich Seidl, 2013)

NOTE: Paradise: Hope is the third film in a trilogy. My review of the first film is available here. My review of the second film is available here. After the seeing the first two installments, it’s impossible to expect Ulrich Seidl’s Paradise: Hope, which is once again shot in symmetrical long takes by Wolfgang Thaler […]

The Bling Ring (Sofia Coppola, 2013)

It’s a shame that The Bling Ring follows Spring Breakers by mere months. I fear that the overwhelming (and in my opinion, completely unjustified) hype will lead to many unfavorable comparisons for Sofia Coppola. Both films follow a group of hedonists engaging in an escalating series of outlandish pursuits, both spend plenty of time with […]

Paradise: Faith (Ulrich Seidl, 2013)

NOTE: This is the 2nd installment in a thematic trilogy. My review of the first film is available here. My review of the third film is here. Paradise: Faith doesn’t take long to affirm that it is indeed the spiritual sequel to Paradise: Love. Faith doesn’t open quite as unexpectedly as Love—it takes a minute […]

The Immortal Story (Orson Welles, 1968)

The Immortal Story has a reputation of being “lesser Welles,” but being a “lesser” film by Orson Welles, arguably the greatest director of all time, is sort of like having a triple-double where you only score 10 points. It’s tough to complain. Welles was famously not a fan of color, stating in 1989 that “today […]

Paradise: Love (Ulrich Seidl, 2013)

The first of Ulrich Seidl’s Paradise trilogy, each of which depicts a woman at a crucial point in her life, was filmed with a general story outline but no script, as the director wanted to capture the reality of Kenya in the telling of his story. This is Paradise: Love’s biggest strength: The improvised acting, […]

The Dead Zone (David Cronenberg, 1983)

Shortly after David Cronenberg made the bizarre, social supertext Videodrome, he released a far more conventional thriller in the form of The Dead Zone, an adaptation of a Stephen King novel (and the eventual basis of a television show). Videodrome is arty and illogical, and, three decades later, stands up as the director’s best work. […]

The East (Zal Batmanglij, 2013)

Zal Batmanglij and Brit Marling spent two months of the 2009 summer practicing Freeganism—eating edible, discarded food, often found in trashcans—and pursuing a moneyless existence, largely out of need, so they could make The Sound Of My Voice. Sometime before they began filming that film, however, they co-wrote The East, a political drama/thriller based largely […]

Somewhere (Sofia Coppola, 2010)

Looking at Somewhere, it’s easy to talk about how it is probably personal on some level, with director Sofia Coppola recreating a portion of her experiences through Cleo (Elle Fanning), the daughter of a Hollywood star named Johnny (Stephen Dorff), and it is even easier to complain about how she focuses on the wealthy and […]

Last Days (Gus Van Sant, 2005)

Gus Van Sant’s Gerry, Elephant, and Last Days constitute his “death trilogy,” which explore the idea of death at the hands of a friend, stranger, and oneself, respectively. All three are shot by the great Harris Savides, who brilliantly captures deserts in Gerry, makes brilliant use of deep space in Elephant, and beautifully frames both […]