Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Barton Fink

Barton Fink is fantastic. It's the story of a humorless playwright in LA in the early 1940s. He is a fish out of water in Hollywood on contract to write a wrestling movie. He is staying in the second creepiest movie hotel (next to The Shining), and befriends a nervously goodnatured neighbor, which is where things go very wrong. Classic Coen Brothers.

The Thin Blue Line


I had seen The Thin Blue Line when it first came out and remember being really affected by it. I rewatched it recently and thought it was just okay. It's about a wrongful conviction, and the case is presented in reenactments mixed with interviews of the key players, including the convicted man and the man who really did it. It's good and it's interesting, but I didn't feel riveted. There are too many of these tragic cases and in the cannon of documentaries about the wrongfully convicted this doesn't stand out to me as much as some others.

Inception

More Christopher Nolan! I watched Inception, a complicated film a la The Matrix, where the action takes place in the alternate world of collective dreams. I liked the conceit, the way the dream landscapes were constructed, the logic of the dream "levels". But the key storylines -- helping a rich businessman bring down another business; and one of the dream experts finding a way to resolve his issues with his dead wife -- were not that interesting to me. So I didn't care much how things worked out, in spite of enjoying the world of the movie.

The Prestige

After seeing Dunkirk I was interested in watching more Christopher Nolan movies and started with The Prestige. The premise sounded laughable to me: two rival magicians... But it was tense and kind of fascinating. The obsessive rivalry reminded me a little of Amadeus, and I always like movies set in the 19th century. The acting was good, the narrative layered and chronologically complex, and there was a twist I didn't see coming.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Dunkirk

Dunkirk is so intense. Almost too much so. It's about the evacuation of nearly 400,00 British troupes cornered on a French beach during WWII. It takes place over a couple of days. The movie jumps right in to the action and it is frightening and tense pretty much from beginning to end. I thought it was masterfully done, beautiful at times.

Florine Stettheimer at The Jewish Museum

The other week I went to The Jewish Museum to see the Florine Stettheimer exhibition. It was wonderful! I hadn't heard of her until I took that trip to DC and went to the women's art museum. Her work is joyful and energized. Populated with fashionable women these paintings reveal an appreciation for material beauty. I love her palette, the use of light and pale and pale colors contrasted with bursts of richer hues This picture here, with it's black background, is not characteristic.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Towards Zero

I haven't read Agatha Christie since I was a kid. With Towards Zero I immediately recognized the basic formula but was still amused and engaged by it all. All the characters portrayed as having some kind of secret, the artificially contrived sense of suspense, the ending where everything is explained and things you couldn't possibly have known revealed to tie it together. You can't take it to seriously. Good silly fun. A nice way to kill an afternoon or two.