BABY DRIVER

There is a scene roughly halfway through Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s 1948 backstage masterpiece The Red Shoes where Ballet Russe impresario Lermontov comforts his understandably nervous principal dancer, Vicky Page. “Nothing matters by the music,” Lermontov assures her. He hums the notes and Page relaxes, the steps have returned to her mind and her body regains confidence. Without the music, she’s just a bunch of limbs failing about; with the music, her body and her movements become a work of art. Maybe a post-war tragedy about the all-consuming desire to create isn’t the most obvious connection to Baby Driver — … Continue reading BABY DRIVER

BAND AID

The beauty of Band Aid is that while every happy couple may be alike, not every romantic comedy about them has to be. Director Zoe Lister-Jones (who also wrote, produced, and stars) manages to avoid the pitfalls of a typical romantic comedy and the dull pacing of an indie film; which, for a first-time filmmaker, is nothing to sneeze at. Much like the works of John Cassavetes and Roberto Rossellini, Lister-Jones injects her characters with refreshing energy and realism. No behavior is out of place, no conclusion strained. There is little doubt that Anna (Lister-Jones) and Ben (Adam Pally) aren’t … Continue reading BAND AID

CHASING TRANE: THE JOHN COLTRANE DOCUMENTARY

Chasing Trane, the new documentary about saxophonist John Coltrane, opens with a digital trip through the cosmos. Coltrane’s music arranges the galaxies and a constellation forms to assemble his image while disembodied voices rhapsodies about the great jazz musician. Time after time again, the name “John Coltrane” is said; in case there is any confusion what-so-ever about the subject of the doc. It’s a theme that continues throughout the movie, one that even the subtitle seems to reference, Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary. Directed by John Scheinfeld — his previous Who is Harry Nilsson (And Why is Everybody Talkin’ … Continue reading CHASING TRANE: THE JOHN COLTRANE DOCUMENTARY

2017 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL SHORT FILM TOUR

Presenting a consumable cross-section of the 35 shorts that played at this past January’s Sundance Film Festival, the 2017 Sundance Film Festival Short Film Tour offers seven films of varying length, subject matter, and execution. All of the selected seven are well made, present a specific perspective, and are engaging. What more could a moviegoer ask for? Come Swim, Kristen Stewart’s first foray into writing and directing, is a fractured dream/hallucination/foreshadow of an unnamed man (Josh Kaye) who both fears and needs the water. He downs water by the bottle, he hears the surf wherever he goes — as well … Continue reading 2017 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL SHORT FILM TOUR

SLACK BAY

The disappearance of a tourist brings two bumbling inspectors to the picturesque seaside town of Slack Bay; a place where a mussel gathering family cradle-carry the wealthy across the bay when the tide is high, wealthy that are too obsessed with their own stupidity to realize that these mussel gatherers also double as cannibals. Written and directed by Bruno Demont — a filmmaker known more for his dramatic works than his comedic — Slack Bay is a bourgeois farce made by a filmmaker who is above such silly matters. Though Demont cites Laurel and Hardy, Peter Sellers, and Monty Python as inspirations, … Continue reading SLACK BAY

AFTERIMAGE

All first films are alike; each final film is final in its own way. When Polish director Andrzej Wajda made A Generation in 1954, he already had three shorts and an apprenticeship with filmmaker Aleksander Ford under his belt, but it was the four-minute unbroken tracking shot of a Warsaw slum that introduced Wajda to the world. Sixty-plus years and 40 films later, Afterimage, marks Wajda’s departure — from this earthly plane, but certainly not from memory. Set in 1950s Poland, during the Stalinist rule, Afterimage centers on renowned avant-garde artist, Władysław Strzemiński (Bogusław Linda), a professor who lost his leg and … Continue reading AFTERIMAGE

LA 92

The horror is so bad you wish you were watching something scripted, something directed. But you’re not; you’re watching reality play out in gory detail. A man is dragged from his truck and beaten within an inch of his life. Another body lies on the pavement, bloodied, broken, and motionless. A man walks over to the corpse and spray-paints it black. Fires burn in the background, people scream for the police and fire department to help, but help isn’t on the way. As far as they are concerned, South Central Los Angeles is a lost cause. Though most moviegoers are … Continue reading LA 92

IT COMES AT NIGHT

Set in a post-apocalyptic world — what brought about the end, we’ll never know — It Comes At Night explores horrors without and horrors within, and the horrors within are much worse. The titular “it” takes the form of nightmares that plague 17-year-old Travis (Kelvin Harrison, Jr.) following the death of his grandfather, a victim of the unnamed plague that ended civilization. Unfortunately, there is little left in this world to ease Travis’s deepest fears. Least of all his father, Paul (Joel Edgerton), a man who will stop at nothing to protect his wife, Sarah (Carmen Ejogo) and Travis. There are still … Continue reading IT COMES AT NIGHT

DAVID LYNCH: THE ART LIFE

Mentor, painter, and sailor, Bushnell Keeler, originated the idea but when David Lynch got ahold of it, the art life went from aspiration to execution: “You drink coffee, you smoke cigarettes, you paint, and that is it. Maybe girls come into it a little bit…” Check, check, check, and check. Still going strong at the age of 71, David Lynch — filmmaker, painter, sculptor, musician, coffee salesman —reflects on his art life, the events that shaped him, and the creative process that accompanied him the entire way. The conclusion is simple: he is the art life and the art life is … Continue reading DAVID LYNCH: THE ART LIFE