Thursday, September 27, 2018

Marjorie Prime (Michael Almereyda, 2017)

Memory play

Michael Almereyda's Marjorie Prime (2017) adapts Jordan Harrison's Pulitzer-nominated play to the big screen in a small way and it's marvelous. Eighty-five year old Marjorie (Lois Smith, who played the role in two previous stage productions) suffers the initial symptoms of Alzheimer's; to help her deal with the memory loss her daughter Tess (Geena Davis) and son-in-law Jon (Tim Robbins) have installed a 'Prime'--a hologram-projected artificial intelligence--representing Marjorie's husband Walter (Jon Hamm) when he was a relatively young forty to talk to Marjorie, record her stories, remind her of any memories she might have forgotten, keep her company, give her all-around emotional support.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

I Live in Fear (Akira Kurosawa), Europa '51 (Roberto Rossellini)

The impossible dream

(Warning: narrative details and plot twists explicitly discussed

Fantasy double feature: Akira Kurosawa's I Live in Fear (1955) and Roberto Rossellini's Europa '51 (1952) both ask the question: how should we deal with the man who holds extreme views on life? Humor him or condemn him? Or--unsettling thought--listen to what he has to say?

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Don't Go Breaking My Heart (Johnnie To, Wai Ka-fai)

Crazy Rich A**hole

If we're talking lighthearted romantic fare involving insanely prosperous Asians I don't see why we need to go all the way to Hollywood when Hong Kong has been doing fine for years. 

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Loving You (Mou mei san tamm, Johnnie To, 1995)

Bullet in the head

Back in the mid-90s found myself hooked on a particularly intense habit: Johnnie To movies. I'd seen A Hero Never Dies and The Barefoot Kid (his one period martial-arts film) had been digging through various DVDs ever since, hoping to find more. 

Found this: Loving You (Mou mei san taam, 1995) what To considers his first real directing job (he'd made his first feature in 1980; by the time he did this he had some sixteen films under his belt). A crime flick with an inordinate focus on a failing marriage, a marriage melodrama with a terrifically tense confrontation thirty minutes in--I mean how would you handle being pinned in an alleyway by a villain on a fire escape, gun pointed down at you? He'd already fired a shot at your head and in the confusion the bullet had somehow missed its mark. Then your nose starts bleeding.