July 29, 2016

College bullshit

Everybody Wants Some!! (Richard Linklater, 2016). Watching Boyhood in 2014, I had the sense that it was about to intersect with Slacker – that we were going to be taken back to the start in some great, interlocking scheme devised by Linklater. Everybody Wants Some!! grows out of the same intersection, as a first-year-of-college movie set in Austin, Texas, in rambling student houses and big American cars and to a rock soundtrack. The era – four years after the 1976 of Dazed and Confused – also suggests a “spiritual sequel” to that film. But it’s disappointing by comparison. The sense of nostalgia isn’t as powerful and the film never really drifts as the best Linklater films do, but nor does it ever deepen. It feels almost unformed. Is it too conventional in the end and not personal or experimental enough? The problem is that Linklater can be boring when he’s trying not to be himself (see also: Me and Orson Welles, Fast Food Nation). 

July 28, 2016

Old gods

Creed (Ryan Coogler, 2015). I talked about Fruitvale Station, his first film, back here; on the evidence of Creed, in which the necessary sentimentality of the script is overpowered by a strong social and political sense that feels natural and fresh, you could say that Ryan Coogler is one of the most exciting young US film-makers around. But the most moving part of this comeback/send-off/reboot (compare and contrast with The Force Awakens) is in the way Stallone graciously takes a back seat, both in the story and the production. 

July 19, 2016

Like a play about the end of the world

10 Cloverfield Lane (Dan Trachtenberg, 2016). Speculations about disaster have become the most fertile subject of contemporary cinema, but no one could claim to be wise after the event, or at any point, not even with the title presenting a possible clue. 

July 18, 2016

Night time

The BFG (Steven Spielberg, 2016). Like ET 34 years ago, this is a night film not a day film. About the wonder children have when they see things in the dark. 

July 9, 2016

Cinema itself is a time machine

“I think cinema itself is a time machine” Apichatpong Weerasethakul.

July 3, 2016

Reality distortion fields

Steve Jobs (Danny Boyle, 2015). A portrait of the artist as a sociopathic monster. Or: backstage at the Apple product launches and inside the visionary’s withered conscience. What if your mastery of the universe meant that you knew exactly what to say when you wanted to say it? The screenplays of Aaron Sorkin present an ideal world where we are all wittier and more devastating and even the worst of us have something clever to add. The best aspects of Boyle, Sorkin and actor Michael Fassbender – who has almost never been better, and that actually is saying something – come together in this collaboration, which is not a just a departure from tired biopic conventions, but even appears like a filmed version of a successful and long-running play that never had to bother with being a play. As for the man himself, in the third act, in his black polo-neck and glasses, he has the austere look of a German theologian, a man who is almost all idea.