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June 12, 2014 12:00 AM

James Franco is a fascinating character. With his chiseled good looks and bedroom eyes, he is genetically perched for sex-symbol status, and certainly Hollywood yearns to dip him in those spangled shallows.

James Franco is a fascinating character. With his chiseled good looks and bedroom eyes, he is genetically perched for sex-symbol status, and certainly Hollywood yearns to dip him in those spangled shallows. But Franco, as part of Seth Rogen and Jason Segel’s Freaks and Geeks mob, resists the most earnest superfluities of celebrity; his artistic talent is tempered by self-deprecation and suspicion, which keeps him on his toes — witness the masochistic pleasure he takes in ripping his reputation in This is the End.

June 5, 2014 12:00 AM

The illegitimate, biracial daughter of a British navy admiral, Dido Elizabeth Belle, was born into complicated circumstances. In Belle, director Amma Asante and screenwriter Misan Sagay take some liberties with what’s known about the real Belle, but strict accuracy isn’t the point of Asante’s lush, Jane Austenesque film, which belongs fully to Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw). 

The illegitimate, biracial daughter of a British navy admiral, Dido Elizabeth Belle, was born into complicated circumstances. In Belle, director Amma Asante and screenwriter Misan Sagay take some liberties with what’s known about the real Belle, but strict accuracy isn’t the point of Asante’s lush, Jane Austenesque film, which belongs fully to Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw). 

May 29, 2014 12:00 AM

Days of Future Past opens in a dark future, a world devastated by war. A ragtag band of mutants, led by Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellan), puts up a decent fight against the Sentinels, but they have zero hope of victory against the shape-shifting, mutant-hunting robots. 

Days of Future Past opens in a dark future, a world devastated by war. A ragtag band of mutants, led by Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellan), puts up a decent fight against the Sentinels, but they have zero hope of victory against the shape-shifting, mutant-hunting robots. In a last-ditch effort, Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) sends the consciousness of Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back into his ’70s self.

May 22, 2014 12:00 AM

It’s impossible for me to assess my attributes as a film critic, though I can say I’ve mentored with some of the best. My dear friend Richard Jameson, former editor of Film Comment, has taught me more about movies, and how to watch and discuss them, than the thousands of pages I’ve read over the years

It’s impossible for me to assess my attributes as a film critic, though I can say I’ve mentored with some of the best. My dear friend Richard Jameson, former editor of Film Comment, has taught me more about movies, and how to watch and discuss them, than the thousands of pages I’ve read over the years. I call Richard, fondly, the populist snob: a man of Apollonian discernment who nonetheless finds lasting quality in more mainstream stuff, and who can discuss Spielberg with as much acuity and energetic acumen as he can Fassbender or Godard.

May 15, 2014 12:00 AM

Funded by a Kickstarter campaign and written, directed and shot by Saulnier, Blue Ruin is the story of Dwight (Macon Blair), a young homeless man who, as the film opens, is roused from sleeping in his car by a sympathetic cop who informs him that the man who killed his parents is soon to be released from prison.

In 1984, a pair of shaggy Jewish brothers from a suburb of Minneapolis released a low-budget neo-noir crime thriller that, with its hard edges and bold style, would do for independent cinema what Nirvana, a few years later, would do for indie music.

May 8, 2014 12:00 AM

Languid, elegiac, mournful and unexpectedly funny, Jim Jarmush’s Only Lovers Left Alive introduces us to the ancient Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton), a pair of vampires who’ve been married so long they think nothing of living on opposite sides of the world.

Languid, elegiac, mournful and unexpectedly funny, Jim Jarmush’s Only Lovers Left Alive introduces us to the ancient Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton), a pair of vampires who’ve been married so long they think nothing of living on opposite sides of the world. He lurks in Detroit, a reclusive, black-clad musician whose work quietly slips into the world via his human friend Ian (Anton Yelchin, shaggy and game).

May 8, 2014 12:00 AM

Hang high in Colorado, Robert Redford, because we have another film festival worth digging into here in Eugene May 9-11. The Archaeology Channel is hosting its 11th International Film and Video Festival at The Shedd and just like the subjects depicted on screen, the festival is aging into something to behold, showcasing 18 films from around the globe. 

Hang high in Colorado, Robert Redford, because we have another film festival worth digging into here in Eugene May 9-11. The Archaeology Channel is hosting its 11th International Film and Video Festival at The Shedd and just like the subjects depicted on screen, the festival is aging into something to behold, showcasing 18 films from around the globe. 

May 1, 2014 12:00 AM

Having just watched Jonathan Glazer’s latest movie, Under the Skin, I’m now thoroughly convinced that we have entered a post-human age — an era of catastrophic reckoning in which humanity, threatened with inevitable extinction, will figure less and less as the engineer of its own destiny. Art is always way ahead of the curve, and if recent films like The Tree of Life and Melancholia, along with novels like Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, have anything to teach us, it’s this: Grab your ass, because the apocalypse is upon us. 

Having just watched Jonathan Glazer’s latest movie, Under the Skin, I’m now thoroughly convinced that we have entered a post-human age — an era of catastrophic reckoning in which humanity, threatened with inevitable extinction, will figure less and less as the engineer of its own destiny.

April 24, 2014 12:00 AM

Remember when Jude Law was pretty? Go back and watch Existenz, or A.I. or Gattaca, when he was often blonde and proper, and always a little bit cold. Then watch Dom Hemingway, in which he is, in so many ways, the opposite: earthy and sweaty and living it up. His hair sweeps back from a sharply pointed hairline, dyed dark brown and never clean; he’s carrying just enough extra weight (by movie-star standards) that his clothes bunch and puff in the wrong places, like real-person clothes. 

Remember when Jude Law was pretty? Go back and watch Existenz, or A.I. or Gattaca, when he was often blonde and proper, and always a little bit cold. Then watch Dom Hemingway, in which he is, in so many ways, the opposite: earthy and sweaty and living it up. His hair sweeps back from a sharply pointed hairline, dyed dark brown and never clean; he’s carrying just enough extra weight (by movie-star standards) that his clothes bunch and puff in the wrong places, like real-person clothes. 

April 24, 2014 12:00 AM

This year, Cinema Pacific packs quite an international punch, with a focus on films from Chile and Taiwan and a slew of interactive events, EW spoke to Festival Director Richard Herskowitz to find out what not to miss. Here are some of the highlights:

This year, Cinema Pacific packs quite an international punch, with a focus on films from Chile and Taiwan and a slew of interactive events, EW spoke to Festival Director Richard Herskowitz to find out what not to miss. Here are some of the highlights:

 

Chile’s Crackerjack Playwright

April 17, 2014 12:00 AM

A very involved thesis could be written about the deluge of prickly issues raised in Nymphomaniac Vol. I & II, Lars von Trier’s four-hour, two-film epic about sexual discovery and degradation. For now, let’s focus on the “facts” of this modern Scheherazade fable: A man, Seligman, happens upon a woman, Joe, lying beaten in an alley; Seligman, a middle-aged virgin, brings Joe to his home, where she proceeds to recount, in a single night, the story of her life framed as a descent into the hell of sexual addiction.

A very involved thesis could be written about the deluge of prickly issues raised in Nymphomaniac Vol. I & II, Lars von Trier’s four-hour, two-film epic about sexual discovery and degradation.

April 3, 2014 12:00 AM

If you’re a little wary of Lars von Trier — never sure whether you’re going to take him seriously and get laughed at, or laugh at him and find you should’ve taken him seriously — you are hardly alone. His last film, Melancholia, was surprising for not offending or pushing buttons; instead, it left me crushed and dazed. 

If you’re a little wary of Lars von Trier — never sure whether you’re going to take him seriously and get laughed at, or laugh at him and find you should’ve taken him seriously — you are hardly alone. His last film, Melancholia, was surprising for not offending or pushing buttons; instead, it left me crushed and dazed. 

March 20, 2014 12:00 AM

Whenever Hollywood, in its infinite predictability, deigns to treat the subject of advanced middle-age, it does so in such broad terms as to skirt impropriety, if not outright offense. Basically, old people in mainstream movies are played either for comic yuks, as infantilized, sexed-up geriatric assholes, or as infantilized, de-sexualized pill-popping matrons who serve as mere placeholders in some grander drama. In neither instance is age depicted as a specific human condition of adulthood, a moment in life’s journey. Rather, old people are just big, whiny kids, devoid of a complex inner life.

Whenever Hollywood, in its infinite predictability, deigns to treat the subject of advanced middle-age, it does so in such broad terms as to skirt impropriety, if not outright offense. Basically, old people in mainstream movies are played either for comic yuks, as infantilized, sexed-up geriatric assholes, or as infantilized, de-sexualized pill-popping matrons who serve as mere placeholders in some grander drama. In neither instance is age depicted as a specific human condition of adulthood, a moment in life’s journey.

March 6, 2014 12:00 AM

For her full-length directorial debut, 34-year-old Jenée LaMarque has made a coming-of-age film that is emotionally vulnerable, philosophically queasy, artistically imperfect and, in its own odd way, uncomfortably beautiful. It would be easy to pick on The Pretty One, the story of Laurel (Zoe Kazan), a twin who, after a car accident, assumes her dead sister’s identity: The movie is, by turns, obvious and obtuse, silly and sincere, shocking and sappy.

For her full-length directorial debut, 34-year-old Jenée LaMarque has made a coming-of-age film that is emotionally vulnerable, philosophically queasy, artistically imperfect and, in its own odd way, uncomfortably beautiful. It would be easy to pick on The Pretty One, the story of Laurel (Zoe Kazan), a twin who, after a car accident, assumes her dead sister’s identity: The movie is, by turns, obvious and obtuse, silly and sincere, shocking and sappy.

February 20, 2014 12:00 AM

Happy families are all alike, but every fucked-up family is fucked-up in its own way. This is especially true of the family at the center of August: Osage County, director John Wells’ adaptation of the 2008 Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Tracy Letts.

Happy families are all alike, but every fucked-up family is fucked-up in its own way.

February 13, 2014 12:00 AM

Though only three of them are actually dark, this year’s crop of Oscar-nominated live-action shorts (now playing at Bijou Metro feels disproportionately heavy. There’s one bit of likable fluff (the Finnish “Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?”) involving a flustered family in a morning rush; there’s also a bit of humor in Mark Gill’s “The Voorman Problem,” which stars Martin Freeman as a doctor asked to examine a prisoner who claims he’s a god. The god, actually; Voorman (an excellent, slippery Tom Hollander) claims to be keeping the whole world going and offers to get rid of Belgium to prove his claims. Sleek and deft and very, very British, “The Voorman Problem” — which is based on an excerpt from David Mitchell’s novel number9dream — is the charmer of the bunch.

Though only three of them are actually dark, this year’s crop of Oscar-nominated live-action shorts (now playing at Bijou Metro feels disproportionately heavy. There’s one bit of likable fluff (the Finnish “Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?”) involving a flustered family in a morning rush; there’s also a bit of humor in Mark Gill’s “The Voorman Problem,” which stars Martin Freeman as a doctor asked to examine a prisoner who claims he’s a god.

February 6, 2014 12:00 AM

The Great Beauty is a glorious jumble, which is fitting for a movie that’s about life, the universe and everything (to borrow a very useful phrase from Douglas Adams) — and a little bit about nothing at the same time. Plot-wise, there’s not much to it: After turning 65, novelist-turned-journalist Jep (Toni Servillo) has a bit of an existential crisis about his shiny, glamorous life. Sort of. (In an interview, director Paolo Sorrentino aptly called his film’s plot “fragile.”)

The Great Beauty is a glorious jumble, which is fitting for a movie that’s about life, the universe and everything (to borrow a very useful phrase from Douglas Adams) — and a little bit about nothing at the same time. Plot-wise, there’s not much to it: After turning 65, novelist-turned-journalist Jep (Toni Servillo) has a bit of an existential crisis about his shiny, glamorous life. Sort of.

January 30, 2014 12:00 AM

Spike Jonze’s Her takes place in a clearly futuristic Los Angeles, a spotless, sparse playground for disconnected souls, filmed as a place that is perpetually sunny and disconcertingly sad. Through this shiny, metal-and-glass metropolis march hundreds of humans having the sort of disconcerting earbud conversations we’re becoming accustomed to now. These folks aren’t talking to a friend on the other side of the country, though; they’re talking to their operating systems. 

Spike Jonze’s Her takes place in a clearly futuristic Los Angeles, a spotless, sparse playground for disconnected souls, filmed as a place that is perpetually sunny and disconcertingly sad. Through this shiny, metal-and-glass metropolis march hundreds of humans having the sort of disconcerting earbud conversations we’re becoming accustomed to now. These folks aren’t talking to a friend on the other side of the country, though; they’re talking to their operating systems. 

January 23, 2014 12:00 AM

From his early career until now, director Martin Scorsese has been documenting the dark and devious side of The American Dream, where success achieved in bad faith leads to spectacular crashes and spiritual bankruptcy. Scorsese is obsessed with the Cinderella story in reverse, where the magic slipper shatters into killing shards of glass. Like some degenerate Catholic reincarnation of Orson Welles, this great American artist keeps making slightly different version of Citizen Kane, each one set in some vicious gritty sewer of our grandiose culture: pro sports with Raging Bull, the Italian-American mob with Goodfellas, Las Vegas with Casino, celebrity with his unheralded masterpiece, The King of Comedy.

From his early career until now, director Martin Scorsese has been documenting the dark and devious side of The American Dream, where success achieved in bad faith leads to spectacular crashes and spiritual bankruptcy. Scorsese is obsessed with the Cinderella story in reverse, where the magic slipper shatters into killing shards of glass.

January 15, 2014 07:14 PM

Of all the things to appreciate about the new Coen brothers film, Inside Llewyn Davis, I’m hung up on the color and the light. These days, it’s easy to give your photos a retro feel; just open Instagram and let the magic happen. It’s not so easy to make your entire film evoke the cover of The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, right down to the cars, the streets and the color of Dylan’s jacket, which is echoed by the bag schlepped around by Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac). 

Of all the things to appreciate about the new Coen brothers film, Inside Llewyn Davis, I’m hung up on the color and the light. These days, it’s easy to give your photos a retro feel; just open Instagram and let the magic happen. It’s not so easy to make your entire film evoke the cover of The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, right down to the cars, the streets and the color of Dylan’s jacket, which is echoed by the bag schlepped around by Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac). 

January 9, 2014 12:00 AM

Nebraska’s black-and-white cinematography, all wide skies and one-story main streets, is a signpost, an indicator that Alexander Payne wants you to think old. Think old movies; think old men; think old-school values. But start with old men. We meet Woody Grant (Bruce Dern, with a frizz of white hair and a loping stagger of a walk) making his way onto the highway. After the Billings cops pick him up, Woody explains to his son David (Will Forte) that he was en route to Nebraska to claim a million-dollar prize.

Nebraska’s black-and-white cinematography, all wide skies and one-story main streets, is a signpost, an indicator that Alexander Payne wants you to think old. Think old movies; think old men; think old-school values. But start with old men. We meet Woody Grant (Bruce Dern, with a frizz of white hair and a loping stagger of a walk) making his way onto the highway. After the Billings cops pick him up, Woody explains to his son David (Will Forte) that he was en route to Nebraska to claim a million-dollar prize.

January 2, 2014 12:00 AM

David O. Russell’s new film, American Hustle, is a shaggy, shambolic love story masquerading as a period crime drama. Loosely based on the ABSCAM operation of the late 1970s, the movie follows the exploits of a pair of charming con artists, Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) and Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams), who end up getting popped by an ambitious FBI agent, Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper), and thereby enlisted in a sting that seeks to bring down, among others, Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner), the mayor of Camden, N.J.

David O. Russell’s new film, American Hustle, is a shaggy, shambolic love story masquerading as a period crime drama. Loosely based on the ABSCAM operation of the late 1970s, the movie follows the exploits of a pair of charming con artists, Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) and Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams), who end up getting popped by an ambitious FBI agent, Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper), and thereby enlisted in a sting that seeks to bring down, among others, Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner), the mayor of Camden, N.J.

December 26, 2013 12:00 AM

Can we talk about Jared Leto for a while? There’s a reason the internet likes to joke about Generation Catalano, referring to those neither-Gen X-nor-Millenial folks who identify with My So-Called Life, the excellent, short-lived TV show whose stars are now stars again. Claire Danes, now all angles and coolness, is on Homeland, while Leto, who played her crush, Jordan Catalano, is mostly a rock star.

Can we talk about Jared Leto for a while? There’s a reason the internet likes to joke about Generation Catalano, referring to those neither-Gen X-nor-Millenial folks who identify with My So-Called Life, the excellent, short-lived TV show whose stars are now stars again. Claire Danes, now all angles and coolness, is on Homeland, while Leto, who played her crush, Jordan Catalano, is mostly a rock star. Every so often he turns up in a movie.

December 19, 2013 12:00 AM

Stephen Frears’ Philomena hardly marks the first time Steve Coogan has played an ordinary fellow, but it feels like a definitive forward step in a peculiar and interesting career. To some, he’ll never stop being the British TV character Alan Partridge; to me, he’s always the guy from the under-seen Tristram Shandy, who pops up in brilliant cameos in all sorts of places (including Hot Fuzz). 

Stephen Frears’ Philomena hardly marks the first time Steve Coogan has played an ordinary fellow, but it feels like a definitive forward step in a peculiar and interesting career. To some, he’ll never stop being the British TV character Alan Partridge; to me, he’s always the guy from the under-seen Tristram Shandy, who pops up in brilliant cameos in all sorts of places (including Hot Fuzz).