• Eugene Weekly Loves You!
Share |


April 3, 2014

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

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

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

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

February 13, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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). 

December 12, 2013

Tom Blank is on a mission.  

A Navy veteran and retired director who served his career in television, Blank and his wife moved in 2005 from Hollywood to Eugene, where he immediately took up the cause of advocating for movies as cultural and spiritual artifacts.  

December 12, 2013

For a film based on a graphic novel, it’s fitting that Blue Is the Warmest Color opens with the discussion of another novel, La Vie de Marianne by Pierre de Marivaux. The 18th-century author cleared a path for romanticists like Jane Austen to delve into an examined life that balances reason with emotion, a theme director Abdellatif Kechiche also examines in his fervid, coming-of-age love story.

December 5, 2013

Director Steve McQueen’s new film is leaps and bounds above his last. The artfully tiresome, cramped and cold Shame gave little clue that McQueen would follow it with a film as grand and intimate as 12 Years a Slave, which tells the ugly, astonishing true story of Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free man who was kidnapped and sold as a slave in 1841. 

November 27, 2013

If Gary Ross’s Hunger Games was a solid piece of entertainment with a sort of finger-wagging moral streak (Look how bad this is! This society is sooooo corrupt!), Francis Lawrence’s Catching Fire is its older sibling, an honest-to-goodness movie (as opposed to just an adaptation) with a nasty dark side and a sullen but fierce heart.

November 27, 2013

Genre breeds familiarity, and then formula, and then contempt. This is especially true when it comes to romantic comedies, which seemed to suffocate on their own fey cuteness with the disappearance of such seminal directors as Billy Wilder, Preston Sturges and Howard Hawks.

November 21, 2013

In Kill Your Darlings, Daniel Radcliffe, with a mop of tousled hair half swallowing his face, plays the young Allen Ginsberg, when the now-renowned poet was but an innocent Columbia freshman. You can stop thinking of Radcliffe as Harry Potter now; since that series ended, he’s made a career of heading off in the opposite direction, and his role in John Krokidas’ directorial debut might be the final step on the road to being taken seriously.

November 14, 2013

Three forces drive How I Live Now: Meg Rosoff, on whose award-winning young adult novel the film is based; Saoirse Ronan, who has managed to make watchable everything she’s been in, even Hanna; and Kevin Macdonald, whose track record as a director is spotty at best.

November 7, 2013

October 31, 2013

When Bijou Cinemas announced its 72-hour Horror Film Fest, I said to myself: Why not? It was an open competition with no entry fee; contestants had three days to write, film and edit a 2-3 minute scary movie, the only mandate being that each entrant must utilize a prop and single line of dialogue provided by the Bijou. The prop, in this instance, was a tennis ball, and the bit of dialogue, delivered at the start of the 72-hour countdown, was a line spoken by the ghost Delbert Grady in The Shining: “I should know, sir, I’ve always been here.”

October 31, 2013