Google+ Cinema Viewfinder: August 2013

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Movie Review: Closed Circuit (2013)

by Tony Dayoub

True to its title, Closed Circuit begins with a view of a London marketplace through a closed circuit camera. Gradually, the view changes from that of just one camera to two, then four, then eight, multiplying exponentially with each new conversation the cameras pick up from shoppers strolling through the street market. In this age of global terrorism, this is what life is like in one of the most wired-for-surveillance cities in the world. And director John Crowley's split-screen effect underscores how difficult it is to keep track of multiple information flows simultaneously. Just when you think you've gotten your bearings a truck pulls into the market, stopping illegally in front of one complaining vendor and occupying an increasing amount of visual space in each camera angle and therefore the entire screen. You don't have long to surmise something's wrong before the truck explodes, killing all of the innocent bystanders discussing their mundane life events minutes earlier.

Monday, August 26, 2013

August Blu-rays

by Tony Dayoub

This will probably be my final opportunity to recommend some Blu-ray releases (along with actual screen captures) before we get into festival and awards season. Let's look at a few of the best August had to offer.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Movie Review: You're Next

by Tony Dayoub

After a terrifying prologue, You're Next begins with ultra-cute Erin (Sharni Vinson) and her pudgy boyfriend Crispian (AJ Bowen) on their way to a weekend at his parents' secluded vacation home. They're to join a family reunion to celebrate Mom and Dad's anniversary. The conversation in the car is about what you'd expect. Erin asks if Crispian's parents are as "loaded" as she's heard. A visibly nervous Crispian admits this is true. But what's really creating the unspoken tension is Crispian's reticence for Erin to meet his complicated family. Who hasn't been in that situation? "What's wrong with them?" Erin asks. After a moment of silence that lasts for what seems like eons, Crispian says two words.

"You'll see."

Friday, August 16, 2013

Movie Review: Lee Daniels' The Butler (2013)

by Tony Dayoub

You can divide audiences for historical movies into a few categories. Of course, there are those that view them simply as entertainment the way they view all other films. There are people like me, who hope to uncover something new, i.e. Lincoln reframed much of what I knew about my favorite president through the lens of today's politics. Then there are those who simply want what they already believe to be validated by such a movie. It's hard to figure out who Lee Daniels is talking to with Lee Daniels' The Butler (the last time I'll be referring to it by its full, unwieldy and legally imposed title). On the one hand, The Butler is eminently watchable, moving along at a very nimble pace that should appeal to both young audiences ignorant of civil rights history and older audiences wanting to re-experience the history the turbulent times they lived through in a nutshell. But I'm not certain that Daniels is aiming for either constituency.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Underrated: Rock Hudson in Seconds (1966)

by Tony Dayoub

I admit it's something of a misnomer to call Rock Hudson's performance in Seconds underrated. For years, Hudson has been praised for his turn in the John Frankenheimer thriller and deservedly so. But ask even the most avid film buff if they've seen the movie and you usually get something along the lines of, "I keep meaning to, but I just haven't gotten to it yet." Well, that should change after today with the Criterion Collection's new Blu-ray release.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Tucker: The Man and His Dream at 25

by Tony Dayoub

As you've no doubt noticed from the last few entries in this series, the waning days of 1988's summer didn't feel quite like the blockbuster season we now see extending all the way up to September. Opening on August 12, 1988, Francis Ford Coppola's Tucker: The Man and His Dream was the kind of prestige project you'd more likely associate with awards season. For Coppola, it is among his most personal films, not only because it spent the longest time in gestation, but because it's the closest the filmmaker has ever come to a confessional about the professional betrayals he'd contended with in his career, and the virtues and flaws of mounting a creative collaboration.


Friday, August 9, 2013

Movie Review: The Spectacular Now (2013)

by Tony Dayoub

"Have you turned her into a lush yet?" That's the pertinent question Cassidy (Brie Larson) asks her ex-boyfriend, Sutter Keely (Miles Teller) in James Ponsoldt's The Spectacular Now. Cassidy's concern belies the fact that she's referring to Sutter's new girlfriend, Aimee Finecky (Shailene Woodley). Is she trying to protect the naïve Aimee from the perhaps alcoholic Sutter's charming sort of peer pressure? Is Cassidy warning Sutter not to lose his new love the way he lost her, by refusing to look past the present? Or is she mindful of her own unresolved post-breakup feelings over Sutter's inability to simply subsist without an oversized plastic cup full of spiked soft drink in hand to sweeten the day? This unpretentious but loaded line of dialogue is representative of the kind of complexity that makes The Spectacular Now feel like a teen romance with an old soul.