Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Boyhood (2014)

This past weekend, Tara and I celebrated our sixth anniversary by indulging in a long overdo Six Flags/Days Inn/ New Jersey trip. Actually, there is more significance to this expedition because we had been going to Darien Lake every year when we were in high school and college and hadn’t been to a theme park in probably eight years. Tara loves roller coasters and I try to keep up, but I’m finding my fear of heights more and more crippling as time passes. After a long day of acting tough but looking queasy and worried, I felt it would be nice to see Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood” and make all of my upstate friends jealous. I was trying to find a way to catch it without driving into the city so Montclair, NJ seemed the best option. Tara pointed out that she had driven once a long time ago to see my old band play there but I had no recollection. Once we got there however I quickly realized that I had played the Bloomfield Ave Café – a since-closed, poorly lit DIY punk/metal venue with a creaky floor - more than a few times. Montclair is reminiscent of Ithaca, NY but with more of a slope. We went to the Bow-Tie Cinema where on Sundays they would should discounted older films such as “Niagra,” “The Hustler,” “Laura,” “All That Jazz,” and “Double Indemnity.” I contemplated doing this instead but the movie was “Funny Girl” so I stuck with the plan. The theater was completely empty when we got our tickets but within minutes the room filled up with septuagenarians and their children. In this way I don’t think Bow Tie is all that different from our own Art Mission’s demographic.
“Boyhood” opens with six year old Mason (Ellar Coltrane) staring up a cloudy blue sky with one of his little arms behind his head, and the other pointing upwards. He looks calm but reflective, a fairly unswerving guise that the little dude cultivates over the next 12 years. For those who don’t know, Linklater and crew made the movie over the course of 12 years, gathering annually and shooting for a few days under IFC’s buck (an estimated 200,000 a year). It took 39 days to shoot and I’m not quite sure how the script was constructed, specifically how much of Ellar’s life and personality were improvised or changed last minute. I’d wager that most of the major adult character’s trajectory were the result of conversations between Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, and Linklater a la the “Before” trilogy. I’d also wager that the nominal plot that guides the family through the 12 year span, as well as most of the mini-mile markers that give the film its spunk, sprang from Linklater’s collaboration and relationship with his actors. It’s a film about the moments in life that stick out.
Over the course of those 12 years Mason is uprooted twice, endures two alcoholic stepdad’s who overcompensate for a lack of masculine self-esteem, falls in and out of love with a girl, and graduates high school. These are some of the big moments in a film held together by the smaller stuff. While it could be considered aimless and meandering, it’s the characters (Mason, Mom, Dad, and Samantha) that glue everything together. Our love and identification with this family propels the narrative forward where other films would probably flop around gasping for air. Linklater’s empathic formula strives to not limit and restrict characters to tapered plot devices but to subvert and challenge our preconceived notions of good and bad nature. Here he invites us to reconsider Ethan Hawke’s “deadbeat” dad, even if his absence causes so much added stress and heartache on Patricia Arquette’s mom. Both parents are allowed their failures, while we never doubt their love and integrity.

While I’d be more than happy to gush uncontrollably about this film and the happiness it brought me, I should point out that it sputters from time to time in his 2 hour and 42 minute running time. Almost all of these lapses in tone and judgment deal with bad behavior. First we have two stepdad’s whose comparable corrosions don’t really add up to much beyond cliché. It’s clear that the director has little respect for macho posturing and right wing nuttiness (no scene more clumsy and disingenuous than the Nobama dude threatening to shoot the kids for posting Obama/Biden signs on his lawn), but his passion sometimes wrings out the worst in his material. We are offered broad, if any, insights to why these men suddenly unravel. It’s almost a politically obligatory impulse for Linklater. And there is another brief scene that most of us can relate to, but probably find underdeveloped and ultimately pointless where two bullies harass Mason in the bathroom. I’ve had similar moments occur, especially around that age where some of my peer’s probably took out their home lives on us unsuspecting feminine dudes, but this scene isn’t much different than anything you’d see in high school movies Hollywood has offered up many times before.

But while these mild blunders occur, they are impressively infrequent in a film that’s driven by interaction and dialogue. As in his previous film “Before Midnight,” “Boyhood” features a lot of scenes with people chatting while walking, laying down, sitting, eating, drinking, bowling, and driving. Many of these scenes are set against a dazzling picturesque milieu, putting Mason’s existence into a proper perspective. In “Midnight” Celine and Jesse argued their way through some of the most attractive vista imaginable, highlighting a sense of loss acquired through the passing of time. We watched as their pride and inability to concede essentially dismantled their once blossoming romance. Here Mason’s skin isn’t as thick, his ego isn’t as distended, and his listening skills possess a respect for what others have to impart. He wants to heed, and even when he indulges in some well articulated rambling he’s willing to admit that it’s just “profound bitching.” How did he gain such meekness and sensitivity? Was he born with it? Was it a result of being toothless and shut up by his abusive stepfather? Was it because both of his parent’s were outspoken and cared so much about Mason and his sister?

Part of the thrill of watching a young boy grow up into a good young man is in taking apart and reassembling some of the pieces that got him to that perfect final shot (the best I’ve seen in a long time). When you disassemble some of the nomadic chatter, the intermediary shifts, the physical transformations, the domestic dynamics, and the cultural landmarks (songs, book releases, phones, video games, and Facebook) you begin to see Linklater’s design here. Because so much of “Boyhood” is about Mason’s place in all things (much like Malick’s Tree of Life), it’s hard to leave this movie without considering our own. It’s a movie that’s constantly moving frontward and rousing up recollections of our own connections to the passing of time. Watching it, I had a hard time not remembering times like looking at the lingerie section of the J.C. Penny catalogue with my brother, arguing with my younger brother only to get blamed by my oblivious mother, camping with my own father, admitting that I was high and drunk to my mom, and walking with friends behind the Texas Music Theater in San Marcos. “Boyhood” has a lurching effectiveness, it really sneaks up on you.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Bitter Victory (1957)

Bitter Victory: Nicholas Ray’s fuming 1957 feature is probably best known for a certain nouvelle vague legend’s high praise, but the conversation shouldn’t start and end there.  The advertised catalyst for most of the internal conflict is a messy and contrived love triangle but the real root to me is tricky dichotomy and careerist covetousness and insatiability. The fact that Captain James Leith (Richard Burton), an archeologist with knowledge of the land but little military know-how, had a previous undisclosed affair with his superior’s wife (Ruth Roman) is really just the cherry on top. Right off the bat General David Brand (Curt Jurgens) is portrayed as an infantile sophisticate in constant route to the top, having spent most of his time killing at a cool distance with a pen or telegraph. Leith is his antithesis, a man with a healthy disillusionment about himself, the nature of war, and the façade of rank and decoration. Both men are sent to retrieved documents from Rommel’s headquarters in Benghazi, a successful mission followed by the long and treacherous return home through the desert. Within the vast spiritual confines of their prison arises the troubling and revealing nature of Brand’s professional spinelessness as well as Leith’s own detached antipathy towards his rival’s manliness and code of blind duty. Talk about a personal war film. Bitter Victory was written by the author Rene Hardy, Ray, and his significant other at the time, Gavin Lambert who formerly served as editor of Sight and Sound. The shoot was reportedly messy with rewrites, compromised castings and even a supposed lottery that left most of the actors playing characters they didn’t want to play, studio-head interferences, excessive gambling, carousing, and drinking by Ray, etc. Studio manipulation and tampering could be attributed to Leith’s hatred for Brand. He not only despises his superior because of his marriage to the woman he thinks he loves but also because Leith has made a distinction between murder and killing, specifically the physical distance that protects him from his own conscience. But what does this consciousness offer him? The catalyst for this hatred comes during the raid on Rommel’s command center where Brand gets cold feet right off the bat, leaving Leith to kill a guard in a very close and nasty fashion. But though it’s tempting to reduce Brand to sheepish villain and exalt Leith to courageous hero, there are certainly moments to suggest a complexity to the situation and Ray’s view of humanity by extension. Brand (and Leith’s Libyan friend and guide, in a surprising twist) watches as a scorpion seals Leith’s fate, while Leith saves Brand during a sandstorm, but Brand also drinks from a potentially poisoned well water after being goaded by Leith, while Leith killed a defenseless fatally wounded German soldier who has just shown him pictures of his wife and kids out of a mixture of humanitarian, self preserving, and impatient desperation. It’s hard not to wonder if the two men are all that different in nature, if their values actually come from such a different place and how much the senselessness of war plays a part in this blurring of primordial lines. What’s clear in the end is that some men get awards for these macho games while others are buried in the desert. Brand becomes a straw man adorned with medals, alone amongst his fellow dummies with his wife weeping instead on the shoulder of a hollow man. Sadly, the film’s failure  landed Ray in the hospital and some speculate if it might not have harmfully affected his trajectory.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


Snowpiercer:  A cooling agent is released into the atmosphere causing the world as we know it to freeze to the point of inhabitability. The sole survivors live on a train, the wealthy in the front the not so lucky in the squalid shantytowns of the rear. The conditions on either side are economically lopsided, the poor literally inheriting and consuming the waste of the rich. The socioeconomic situation isn’t much of a secret; in fact it’s pretty much shouted into a megaphone much like the film’s fiscal and societal disparity metaphors. The train’s unending loop and overall lack of real progressive also serves as a blunt symbol for a need to derail the system or be damned to continue on the same track. The conflict concerns a violent uprising, the attempt to turn the tables and unbalance what’s left of humanity by a group of “shoes.” Part of what I love about Bong Joon-Ho’s movies is his inability or lack of desire to sustain any hint of consistent tone. You get the sense that anything can and will happen in the midst of what appears to be worn action tropes. He’s more about the small details, the facial reactions and gestures that do such a better job of speaking to the passenger’s past lives. But he’s also in love with flat out odd behavior, peppered into the narrative to keep things lively. Yes, a guy can slip on a salmon corpse whilst fighting masked men with hatchets. Yes, Tilda Swinton will take her top teeth out randomly to deliver an inconsequential line. Yes, Song Kang-ho will huff and bump industrial waste called Kronol with his daughter but only until they use it for a far nobler purpose in the finale. Oh, and yes, a teacher will break out into song with her students before retrieving a machine gun from a cart full of hardboiled eggs. Joon-Ho’s film tumbles recklessly forward from freight car to freight car, set piece to set piece, and so on and so forth. But while much of it is proudly pure mayhem, there is a distinct emphasis in rooting the action in human internal conflict. The Host was about a family dealing with catastrophe and tragedy, the same can be argued about Mother, while Memories of Murder concerned two detectives obsessive quest to find a killer (I think Fincher took notes). The central concerns are very human, the plot and action are proficiently decentralized. With Snowpierecer, Joon-ho inherited his biggest plot and character juggling act of his career, along with the job of catering to a new and very foreign market, as well as pleasing the Weinstein’s, and yet he’s still managed to pull it all off despite some dragging exposition in the final act. Even that unfortunate grind is enlivened with some nifty visual cues, including a nice nod to Modern Times. It’s worth more than a thousand Transformers.   

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Viewing log: July 17, 2014

The Immigrant: I know there have been bolder, happier, and more entertaining movies thus far in 2014 but James Gray’s latest is probably the best. While the others (I’m thinking Under the Skin and Grand Budapest – I haven’t seen Boyhood or Snowpiercer) are getting their fair share of just accolades and box office fortification, The Immigrant tanked and basically snuck onto Netflix Instant this week. The story concerns Ewa (Marion Cotillard, give her all of the awards please?), a Polish woman entering Ellis Island with her sister. All of their trials thus far have led to a very brief honeymoon with the land of the free as the sister is quarantined and prepared for deportation due to a case of tuberculosis while Ewa is accused of immoral activity on the boat, the details of which are heartbreakingly revealed later on during confession. From this suspicious conundrum enters Bruno (Joaquin Phoenix), let’s call him an entrepreneur in the pleasure industry. He saves her from deportation and eases her into his business. He thinks of himself as compassionate and most of his women believe this to be so while Ewa knows better and hides none of her contempt for him. The Immigrant’s driving theme amidst the systematic despair is that of a woman holding on to any strand of hope in a better future for her and her sister. That glimmer comes in the form of a magician named Orlando (Jeremy Renner), a cousin to Bruno and the mark of all of his contempt and envy. You can probably guess that things get complicated and bleak as a result of this enmity. What you probably can’t guess is where it all ends up. I don’t want to give anything away other than to say that it evokes another New York film set amongst dead end dreamers, with one of the characters in this movie pulling a Rocky Sullivan act for the benefit of another’s mental justifications. Gray’s restrained New York is shabby and tattered, with an attention to what’s lacking in every frame rather than a typical period piece show and tell. He’s more interested in the complexities of human desperation as well as mining the deepest and most honest of emotions from knowingly melodramatic material. I know it’s been said before but it’s worth repeating that this film is like a good novel from the same period, much like Scorsese’s The Age of Innocence or Welles’ The Magnificent Ambersons. And the final shot is a stunner.

That Obscure Object of My Desire: What is this object? I think I have an idea, and if I’m right it would make sense that it could reduce bourgy patriarch duff Mathieu (the game Fernando Rey, perhaps Bunuel’s greatest clay clod) to an immobilized fly heading towards a crowded light bulb. Those of us lucky/unlucky (I kind of like not being in control) enough to be stricken with the same weak impulse know at least part of what makes him so pitiable. We have been there, at least in the desire part of the spectrum. When we hear lyrics like “my knees get weak,” we know what that feels like. You start to lose balance the closer you get. Hopefully most of us have learned not to feel entitled to anything belonging to anyone else, even if we’ve been bred to feel that way. Mathieu has this sense of entitlement and it has woven itself into his life so tightly that he can’t see past his own folly, thus leading to his downfall. Moments of clarity come rarely, usually because she (played by both Carole Bouquet and Angela Molina) slips up the power balance. Even gravity has its dark matter, but soon enough he goes from repulsed right back to drawn with the simplest of gestures. You don’t doubt who is in control here. I don’t doubt it myself. Bunuel understands this too, so much so that he chose to go out with it, leaving everything to fireballs and debris in his absence. Maybe he was always in charge after all.

The American Friend: This very loose adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s Ripley’s Game follows a sick picture framer who is diagnosed with a deadly disease who agrees to get involved in some seedy activity to earn money for his family. Sound familiar? Wim Wender’s The American Friend is about moral compromises in impossibly complicated situations, but it’s more about one man rushing towards death. After learning that his condition has been greatly exaggerated, by the same man who seems a guardian angel, he finds himself trying to mop up after a messy situation. The results are Wenders gold. PS, Sam Fuller and Nicolas Ray make cameos.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: This sequel follows the parallel Balkanization and collapse of two correspondingly conflicted sects of survivors. The first group is the upshot of a revolution of apes freed and united by a primate enlightened by a drug that happened to wipe out most of the human population. The remaining humans are having a much harder time surviving the elements and go wandering into what used to be the Muir Woods National Monument in search of a dam that could potentially provide them with power. These two groups who had only suspicions of each other’s existence suddenly meet and within seconds a human shoots an ape, beginning what will be a nasty tit for tat war that splinters both groups into mutinous dissidents. I wasn’t entirely thrilled with the conversion of Koba, an ape with a justified distrust for humans due to lab testing and torture, though I was moved by his motivations for revenge. One of his mirrored human counterparts was less human/interesting by comparison, the typical short fuse with an aberrant detestation for the apes, while his ultimate/surprising foil is more plausible and effective. What makes the uprising so effective, when taken from the point of the view of the betrayer, is the chilling scene in which Caesar beats his future Brutus to a bloody pulp. I could personally understand it as a decisive betrayal and as such it’s heartbreaking. And it’s not even all that justified, at least not from a leader’s standpoint. A temper flared and Koba therefore succumbs to his humiliation. Matt Reeves’ horror chops elevate the material and franchise, and the effects team here pulls off some minor miracles. Despite the fact that San Francisco looks more like Seattle or Binghamton (overcast all the time), I dug the look here. The Hooker’s and dark moss green really worked to ground the CG apes in their surroundings, and those nighttime battle scenes initially made me think of the Wind Demons from Rankin/Bass’s The Life and Adventures of Santa Clause, especially that often mentioned shot of Koba riding the horse and firing off not one but two machine guns. It almost looked like stop animation. Though it’s probably a gross oversimplification of current turmoil (Israel/Palestine, sectarian war in Iraq/Pakistan/Syria/Egypt/Somalia/Rwanda/etc, the U.S. government) --- and just so you know, I don’t think this is the purpose of the film altogether ---- Dawn gets closer to the core of our convoluted times than most of its peers, meaning summer blockbusters. It questions the catalyst of war, specifically is ease, the shoulders on which the blame falls. It’s not entirely on Koba because that momentary lapse of judgment from Caesar provided more than enough fuel for the fire. It was a display of strength and superiority, which had me immediately thinking about the pundits and politicians who complain about our own need to dispel the appearance of “weakness.” It’s dangerous banter. Note also how Koba saves Caesar’s life at the beginning and see how that plays out towards the end. Dawn is a tragedy that has heart and, thanks to some exemplary filmmaking, it’s damn dirty good.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

1977 in film

1.       Killer of Sheep (Charles Burnett)

2.       That Obscure Object of My Desire (Luis Bunuel)

3.       Stroszek (Werner Herzog)

4.       The American Friend (Wim Wenders)

5.       Star Wars (George Lucas)

6.       Sorcerer (William Friedkin)

7.       Annie Hall (Woody Allen)

8.       Opening Night (John Cassavettes)

9.       The Ascent (Larisa Shepitko)

10.   Cross of Iron (Sam Peckinpah)

Honorable Mentions: Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Steven Spielberg), 3 Women (Robert Altman), Eraserhead (David Lynch), The Hills Have Eyes (Wes Craven), Rabid (David Cronenberg), Suspiria (Dario Argento), Martin (George Romero), The Last Wave (Peter Weir), New York New York (Martin Scorsese), The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (Wolfgang Reitherman), The Rescuers (Wolfgang Reitherman), Hausu (Nobuhiko Obayashi).
Glaring Blindspots: The Devil Probably, Providence, The Man Who Loved Women, The Report, Citizen’s Band.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Viewing Log: July 9th, 2014

Cheap Thrills: Funny Games, but with less formal aptitude and virtually no limb obtruding out of the figurative posterior. Both films are tackling a problem within the human condition, a problem brought about by larger social/economic ills, and each meticulously designed to lure out the worst proclivities towards destruction supposedly veiled within each of us. The difference of course is that Cheap Thrills opts to play it loose and have fun with it and for that I choose to salute it with some stipulations. I like it’s attitude. I like it’s style. I like the performances; though there isn’t much for poor Sara Paxton to do (she’s basically one of the masked villains from The Strangers, without the mask). As timely as the film seems insist, it’s too eccentric to take seriously, and maybe that’s why it worked overall for me. I was also impressed by its “tastefulness” in regards to what it actually decided to show us, though that fades with time. Plus, that final shot is gold.


Blue Ruin: Like Cheap Thrills, this movie follows seemingly ordinary people, dropped into violent situations by outside circumstances virtually beyond their control. We follow and relate to the main character’s rationale, and suffer with him through the various forks in the road or arrows in the thigh. Revenge means something to us, even those of us who have been lucky enough to not seriously contemplate it. The main schlep’s goals in what’s left of his ruined (no pun) life are simple, to kill the man responsible for his parent’s death. Like any responsible film about revenge, things get knotty, nasty, and virtually irresolvable. Motives and actions aren’t as black and white as they initially appear and our anti-hero starts to blur the lines between himself and those that we once considered so worthy of cold hard retribution. This is the nature of violence, as many books and films have reminded us, to seemingly no avail. I would have liked Blue Ruin more if it stuck to its guns as opposed to firing them off in hopes to tie up loose ends. I would have also liked it more with a different lead, but that sounds mean. Still, it’s got a nice sense of environment, and by that I guess I mean it brings the setting into the action in ways that enhanced the drama. What does that mean? I have no idea. I guess a better version of this mess would be Shotgun Stories, but you can do a lot worse than Blue Ruin so see it.


Locke: I don’t know that the gimmick here serves any other purpose than to draw audiences but the story and central performance are good enough to push beyond its aesthetic weakness. I haven’t seen a film in recent years with the fortitude and composure to handle adultery this way. If you boil the title character down to the man he is trying to become, he’s an honest husband/father/worker trying his best to make the best of a bad situation, a situation that he openly admits to fumbling all by himself. The adulteress is not the crazy psychopath who boils rabbits and attempts to rat out or kill in order to win her man. She has made a similar decision to move forward and only wants him to be there for the birth. The man doesn’t blame anyone. He briefly tries to explain his mindset, but understands that he’s in for the battle of his life if he wants to mend any of the damage his egocentricity has caused. This is a moral film that reaches beyond its simple allusions. It’s not necessarily a cinematic marvel (there really isn’t much to do visually with this gimmick), but it’s timelier than Blue Ruin and Cheap Thrills combined.


The Blob (1988): I used to be grossed out by the 1958 film so you can guess how much this one ruined my dinner. I don’t think I can be even slightly objective here because that slimy 80s gore really gives me the creeps. You’d think I would appreciate it more for getting under my skin, but no. I didn’t eat jelly for months after watching the original, and honestly I’m starting to think this one viewing might have similar reverberations. No more of this for me.


The Ascent: Larisa Shepitko’s The Ascent descends to hell, hell being war and war being the type of hell that turns even the best of us into devils caught up in its vortex. I guess the notion suggests that all of us are implicated within its web of compromise, backstabbing, tattling, killing, and the list goes on hopelessly. It’s a domino effect eventually making its way to everyone, at least every character in this bleak film. The first chapter slowly chronicles the crux of a specific moral plummet as we follow a soldier through some of the prickliest physical scenarios imaginable as he bravely drags his wounded comrade to safety through the snow, wind, and brush while also attempting to save his own life. I immediately associated might with right just like in any other war film ever made, a formula almost too conveniently turned on its head later on. I also found the temperature in my living room dropping the longer the film raged on. The brave soldier’s actions are unquestionably valiant and even death defying, a true fortitude. It speaks to the warrior’s capacity to confront death in the thralls of combat, but it also calls into question the warrior’s motivation and possibly his need for glory. As we are asked to call his bravery into question in the second and third act, it’s as though he was merely hearing his own triumphant score playing in his head as he trudged on. It’s all the more jarring to find this same hero suddenly dwarfed, cowardly, and trembling in the face of a decidedly less decorated slow systematic death. Suddenly it’s the weaker wounded soldier who becomes the “hero”, the “Father forgive them” symbol of bravery and nonconformity. Shepitko challenges the triumphs of war in a way that may be too on-the-nose and emblematically opportune, but I’m happy The Ascent left me with more questions than answers, and it’s a powerful experience if you go with the flow. Tragically it was Shepitko’s final film, which only piles on more questions about the director she might have been.


Strozsek: I’m far from the “Herzog can do no wrong” fan club, and believe me when I say that such a crowd exists. I think sometimes I veer a little too far in the skeptical side of the aisle that I’ve created for the convenience of this paragraph, but just when I found myself rolling my eyes I was reminded of why such a club exists with Strozsek. One of my annoyances with Herzog’s painstaking self mythology would be his audience’s incongruous laughter of the unconventional characters that inhabit his films. On one hand the director seems to imply that those who reject the supposed norm should inherit the earth (to which I would mostly agree) but he’s also clearly wringing amusement out of their behavior and personality for his own good. We are invited to laugh at them, not with them. I guess I shouldn’t use the word “clearly” as I’m not privy to his intent, but when you read interviews in which he boasts about his reputation as “certifiably insane” you understand that he’s not only in on the joke but also at least partly constructing it. Long winded bunny trail aside, I’d rather spend time with the characters of Strozsek than pretty much anything or anyone coming to the multiplex this or any other summer. I got the sense that he’s not exploiting his three wandering companions here for cheap laughs in order to further build up his own myth. And anything characteristically “weird” here is communicative and caring first, and maybe odd only if you try and reason with it; i.e. dancing chickens, tractors manned with angry armed farmers, etc. It’s more than the disillusioned American Dream set-up, it’s the perception that the world at large has no place other than a cell, a brothel, or a nursing home for people like Bruno, Eva, and . Herzog clearly hates this, and the film feels like an altar unto their unrewarding talent and exuberance. He’s stepping out of the limelight for his characters. Bruno S. is a hero, one of the most admirable screen cohorts that I’ve ever come across and it’s clear that Herzog shares that same respect.  At the end of the day, or the movie in this case, you get the sense that he and his protagonist are simply throwing their hands in the air, and we the audience are invited to share that same sensation of frenzied surrender, and somehow this chaos feels incredibly enriching.


Godzilla (2014): I think Hollywood should start about limiting these big sprawling blockbusters to a small clump of characters experiencing big, mind blowing incidents from a level relatable to the rest of us. Don’t bounce back and forth from the military man with his hand on the detonator to the wife in the hospital. Don’t place us the conference rooms where generals and scientific experts expound on the beasts wreaking havoc. Am I the only person who spaces out during these scenes? Let’s just hang with the guy who happens to see it all go down. Let’s watch most of it from his perspective. Let’s occasionally cut away to see the mayhem from the sky or a skyscraper. But root the action in something personal and the whole enterprise will work as well as the admittedly worn scene where the great Juliet Binoche dies just on the other side of a fortifying door. Even with these complaints, which have kept me from giving a hoot about almost all of this or last summer’s tent pole attractions, I liked this 32nd installment quite a bit.


That’s all I got for now. I’ll try and do a Cheddaresque post sometime this month to keep up with all of the movies I’ve been watching.