Admin

There are a handful of filmmakers whose movies are what I would consider unmissable. These are the auteurs who bring unique and compelling visions to the screen, telling engaging stories with visual flair and structural panache. We all have our pantheons.

Paul Thomas Anderson is part of mine.

Now, I’m hardly alone in this. The PTA hive has been a robust one pretty much from the beginning – he’s been on the cinephile radar since the late ‘90s. I’d put his three-film fun of “Hard Eight,” “Boogie Nights” and “Magnolia” against any filmmaker’s first three features … and he just continued to get better.

One of the many qualities of PTA’s work that I’ve always admired is his willingness to pivot, to veer in different directions with the choices that he makes and the stories he chooses to tell. So I was obviously thrilled when I (finally – everyone kept things very close to the vest) learned that his newest film, “Licorice Pizza,” would revisit the San Fernando Valley and focus on telling a coming of age story in early ‘70s California.

The film – named after a now-shuttered chain of record stores – is a story of affection and ambition, a tale of misguided attraction and relentless hustle. It’s a story about what it means to actually grow up when you already view yourself as grown up, as well as some of the consequences that this sort of up-and-down maturation process can have. All of it rendered through Anderson’s exquisite eye and brought forth by an absolutely dynamite cast – a cast led by a central odd couple of sorts offering up performances that far outstrip what we might have reasonably expected.

Published in Movies

Few filmmakers are as comfortable astride the line between the beautiful and the grotesque as Guillermo del Toro. The echoes of this affinity reverberate through much of his filmography, whether we’re talking about horror or sci-fi or fantasy – he finds ways to elevate genre filmmaking more cleanly and compellingly than any of his peers.

His latest offering is “Nightmare Alley,” a film whose script he also co-adapted alongside Kim Morgan from William Lindsay Gresham’s 1946 novel of the same name. While it doesn’t venture as far into the fantastical as much of his earlier work – the genre this time around is noir more than anything – he’s still able to find ways to explore that light/dark balance, albeit largely in an internal manner rather than externally.

Of course, it is also marked by del Toro’s typically lush visual stylings, an idiosyncratic and mesmerizing aesthetic that is evocative and haunting. While it does get a little mushy in terms of narrative, it also features an incredibly talented cast (including a few del Toro favorites). It is stark and bleak and beautiful, a thriller that revels in the moral and ethical shadows that it casts.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 10 October 2018 12:11

‘A Star is Born’ burns bright

Predicting the relative success of a film, whether commercially or critically, is no easy feat. Sometimes, all the pieces are there for a hit, only for the final product to fall short. Other times, what looks like an abject disaster proves to be a runaway smash.

And then there are those movies that you can’t quite get a read on.

“A Star is Born” was one such film for me. I love Bradley Cooper as an actor – I think he’s got real talent – but how was he going to be in his directorial debut? Especially when he would be directing himself? And Lady Gaga is an undeniable musical powerhouse, but could she transcend her persona enough to create a character that felt real? Would the movie elicit genuine pathos … or simply come off as pathetic?

After seeing the movie, let’s check those boxes. First, Cooper displayed far more directorial talent than I would have expected from any first-timer, let alone someone directing himself. Second, Gaga is absolutely captivating in this role, exposed and vulnerable in a way we rarely see her. And finally – pathos. Wave after wave of elicited emotion … and every feeling is well-earned.

The story is simple and compelling. The performances are raw and heartfelt. The aesthetic is honest and the music is spectacular. It uplifts and undercuts with equal abandon. It is a fantastic movie experience the likes of which we don’t often see anymore – one that will almost certainly reap rewards come awards season.

Published in Movies
Friday, 19 August 2016 15:56

Bro-ing to war - 'War Dogs'

Film elevated by strong central performances

One of the most overused phrases in the world of movie marketing is 'Based on a true story.' Essentially, it gives filmmakers carte blanche to use as much or as little of a story's truth in the course of making their movie.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 29 May 2013 13:51

Third time not the charm Hangover III'

Comedy series limps to the finish line

As an actor, it has to be frustrating to be forced into a project that you aren't that interested in. Giving the kind of full commitment that a movie sometimes requires is probably difficult if you're not invested in the project.

Or even worse, if you used to be invested but aren't anymore.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 12 September 2012 14:26

Words, words, words

The Words' offers story-within-a-story-within-a-story

As a lover of the written word, I was intrigued when I first heard about 'The Words.' The idea of a movie built around the nature of authorship and the siren's song of literary fame and fortune sounded pretty good to me. But then a simple, fundamental question occurred to me - can they actually make this interesting?

For me at least, the answer was 'yes.'

Published in Movies

Advertisements

The Maine Edge. All rights reserved. Privacy policy. Terms & Conditions.

Website CMS and Development by Links Online Marketing, LLC, Bangor Maine