Sunday, September 18, 2016


DE PALMA ~ A documentary about filmmaker Brian De Palma in which the man himself takes us through his career, film by film, from its intriguing beginnings, through his tenure as one of the 70's wunderkinds alongside Speilberg, Lucas, Scorcese and the rest, through his time as Hollywood's most productive controversialist, with the occasional bypass into blockbuster-land, up to the present day. If you're already a fan, this film will delight you. If you aren't, this film might convert you. At the very least, you'll walk away with a bunch of new movies you'll be wanting to see. Highly recommended!

MILES AHEAD ~ Don Cheadle stars as Miles Davis in a somewhat entertaining but ultimately poorly conceived heist film, which is a terrible, confusing waste, because Cheadle actually makes for a very convincing Miles Davis. The producers' excuse, apparently, was that they didn't have sufficient budget to make a biopic worthy of the jazz titan's life and legacy, so they decided to make the kind of streetwise crime flick that Miles was known to be a fan of. Which is all well and good, but as I watched, even while I was occasionally entertained, I couldn't help but shake my head at the squandered potential of the thing. Your mileage may vary.

THE IMITATION GAME ~ There may very well be a way to make the complex, intriguing, tragic life of landmark computing philosophy pioneer Alan Turing into a riveting cinematic experience. Unfortunately, the people behind this Benedict Cumberbatch vehicle were not made privy to it before making this ever so British "date night" confection, which is far more reminiscent of The King's Speech than any film other than The King's Speech has any right to be. In case you're wondering, Oscars be damned, that is NOT a good thing.

THE UNKNOWN KNOWN ~ Errol Morris is one of America's most acclaimed documentarians, and his 2003 Robert McNamara documentary The Fog of War could very well be his finest work to date. That film is almost like a university level political science course boiled down to a 107 minute documentary. While watching 2013's The Unknown Known, I couldn't help but think he was going for a repeat performance, but just as Donald Rumsfeld is no Robert McNamara, The Unknown Known is no Fog of War. Whereas McNamara was a thoughtful, philosophical, forthcoming interview subject who was genuinely interested in getting at some semblance of truth at the core of the mess that is the historical record, Rumsfeld seems all too comfortable taking cover in the smothering swirl of confusion choking America's recent past like a shroud - a confusion that he, himself, was instrumental in creating. I have read some reviews that call The Unknown Known a horror movie of sorts, with Rumsfeld playing the role of the monster. His weirdly disconcerting laugh, his reptilian smirk, his self-satisfied sophistry (none of which is as clever as he seems to think it is) all combine to make for an altogether unwholesome package, void of revelation or any sort of satisfaction. In short, Rumsfeld: 1, Morris: 0, which has to stand as a minor tragedy of sorts.

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