NW Film Center’s David Lynch: A Retrospective

A chance to see all of the films by my favorite director on the big screen.

Portland’s NW Film Center is putting on a series of films from July through September highlighting the works of David Lynch and those that inspired him. In addition to all of his features, a bunch of his short films are being shown. Plus, Fellini’s La Strada, Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and Lolita, Hitchcock’s Rear Window and Vertigo, and more. It’s incredible.

I’m grateful that I’ll have the chance to see so many great films this summer. Seeing David Lynch’s films on the big screen is a whole new experience compared to a laptop or TV. I’ll finally get to see Inland Empire, Dune, The Elephant Man, and The Straight Story.

With these screenings and Twin Peaks: The Return, this is officially the Summer of David Lynch for me, and I couldn’t be happier.

Bottle Rocket Review

A look at Wes Anderson’s Bottle Rocket, with a focus on how it compares to his other films.

On the run from Johnny Law. It ain’t no trip to Cleveland.

Three years ago my partner and I dug into Wes Anderson’s filmography to check out the films that we had not yet seen. We started with Moonrise Kingdom, which was an absolute joy. We then moved on to Rushmore, which is brilliant and one of my favorite films. After that was The Darjeeling Limited, which was funny and visually interesting but not quite up to par with the rest of Wed Anderson’s filmography. We then decided to give Bottle Rocket a go.

Continue reading “Bottle Rocket Review”

The Bad Batch Review

Thoughts on Ana Lily Amirpour’s 2017 film The Bad Batch.

I went into The Bad Batch without any prior knowledge of the film or its director, Ana Lily Amirpour. Today was a hot day for Portland, almost 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and nothing sounded better to me than a dark, cool theater. I browsed the playing movies and whittled out the superhero movies (just not in the mood) and big budget CGI-mess blockbusters like Transformers and The Mummy. Among what was left that I hadn’t seen and looked interested was The Bad Batch. I liked the look of the poster, so I decided to go for it.

Continue reading “The Bad Batch Review”

The End of the Tour Review

My thoughts on James Ponsoldt’s 2015 film about David Lipsky’s interview with David Foster Wallace.

The End of the Tour is a film that chronicles the interview of David Foster Wallace (DFW) by fellow author David Lipsky over the course of a handful of days for Rolling Stone right after DFW’s Infinite Jest was released in the mid-90s. It stars Jason Segel as DFW and Jesse Eisenberg as David Lipsky.

Let me lay some groundwork before jumping into my thoughts: I’ve never read Infinite Jest, although one day I would like to. The only David Foster Wallace that I’ve read are some of his essays, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I’ve watched and listened to a handful of interviews over the years as well. About 6 months ago I read the book this movie is based upon, Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself. I found it to enthralling and emotional, especially for a premise that could be very boring.

With that out of the way, let me get into my thoughts on The End of the Tour. Overall, I enjoyed watching the film. For what is mostly two men talking, the time flies by, which is a testament to DFW and David Lipsky, the editing, and the screenplay. It has an emotional arc, which if I’m remembering correctly, is present in the book.

Being somewhat familiar with DFW’s voice and visual appearance, it took me about a half hour to get over that Jason Segel simply isn’t DFW. I think Jason Segel does a good job of capturing DFW’s mannerisms, and both he and Jesse Eisenberg’s performances are good. The more tense and emotional scenes deliver, which I was surprised by.

Some of the emotional impact of the movie was lessened by my familiarity with the book. It certainly strikes similar chords, and I found the ending of the movie to be particularly poignant.

There are few anachronisms in the film, specifically cars from the 2010s being present in parking lots, but that’s a minor gripe. The End of the Tour nails the 90s aesthetic with all of the smoking, soda, movies, and fashion.

While the movie isn’t overly artistic, I appreciate its visual style. I think the cinematography is the cherry on top, as there are some beautiful shots mixed into the interior shots.

The End of the Tour didn’t knock my socks off, but I think it’s a solid adaptation and look into one of the most legendary authors of all time. I’m glad I watched the film, and if you’re interested in writing and/or DFW, you won’t be disappointed.

I think it’s time for me to finally read Infinite Jest.

Serpico Review

A review of Sidney Lumen’s 1973 cop drama film starring Al Pacino.

Who can trust a cop who don’t take money?

Following my first viewing of The Godfather Part I & II, I decided to watch Serpico. The early-to-mid 70s seem to be prime Pacino, as he delivers another transformative performance in Serpico.

I had zero expectations going into this film. I was unaware of the plot premise or its reception. All I knew going in was that Al Pacino looks a bit like a hippie. I’m glad I went in fresh, as I was pleasantly surprised by Serpico.

It tells the tale of a NYC cop who learns of corruption within the force and tries to do something about it. It covers a decade pretty quickly, which keeps the film moving at an enjoyable pace. I liked how the film would just move along and not over explain what happens. It’s brilliant how the passage of time is shown by little things like Serpico’s hair, his dog, and other minor visual queues. It’s “show, don’t tell” at some of its best.

Corruption may not always start at the top, but that doesn’t mean that the top isn’t to blame. Aside from a few friends that Serpico, or Paco as his friends call him, makes, this film is very much about his journey from precinct to precinct, only to continue discovering the new one is more corrupt than the last.

Visually, I really like the way the movie looks. It’s got a somewhat dark and gritty tone, which is fitting. All of the acting seemed solid, but Al Pacino really rises above the other cast members as Serpico. From the way he talks to the way he dresses to the way he moves, it’s so believable. I was rooting for him the entire time.

My two main gripes with the film are: people of color are pretty much exclusively used as the criminals in this film, which is a bummer, and the two women that Serpico goes out with aren’t really developed or complex. They’re a blip on the radar of the film, which I found disappointing.

Serpico holds up well 44 years later. I don’t think it hits the artistic and story highs of The Godfather, but it’s a solid film and one worth watching.

Funeral Parade of Roses Review

A review of the 4K restoration of Toshio Matsumoto’s masterpiece.

Funeral Parade of Roses is an experimental film that is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It tells the tragic tale of Oedipus Rex, but with a twist (I’ll leave that to you to discover).

The movie is funny and touching and difficult and on a level of its own. It portrays trans characters in a way that feels ahead of its time for a film made in 1969. They’re all beautiful and multidimensional characters—they’re humans, not stereotypes. It’s a special thing to see, and I think it’s handled very well. I’m looking forward to reading other takes on it too in order to learn more.

Continue reading “Funeral Parade of Roses Review”