Beatriz At Dinner (2017 USA)

Gathering characters around a table is always a good pretext for serving up something tasty for a hungry cinema audience. The moral spectrum here is far too nuanced to allow a single clear position. It’s a diagnosis without a prescription. For one thing, Doug Strutt (John Lithgow) is no Donald Trump. He’s far smarter, knowledgeable, more gracious, disciplined, self-aware, more honest — in fact, the character here who is the most at peace with himself. The three wives are uniformly hard, brittle, constantly on guard to sustain their marital and social status. Of the three wealthy couples only Doug is secure enough within himself and confident in his dealings with the others. The men live on his approval, so the wives must too. [Read more…]

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After The Sunset (USA 2004)

Max (Pierce Brosnan) and Lola (Salma Hayek) are eating at a restaurant with an American couple and are discussing their business activities. Wendell: “My family’s been in manure for three generations.” Max: “No shit.” Having pulled off yet another amazing and cunning diamond robbery and left FBI Agent Lloyd with yet more egg on his face, Max and Lola retire to the Caribbean and get on easy street. After a while though the lobsters start to lose their luxury, the sun seems normal and the days are boring more than they are relaxing. [Read more…]

Some Kind Of Beautiful (2014 USA)

A breezily sentimental romantic comedy in which everybody is hateful to one another. Look past its colourful, smooth surfaces and something corrosive emerges. And it’s not like the film isn’t aware of this. But it doesn’t really know what to do with it. The movie’s well cast, though. Pierce Brosnan plays Richard, a Cambridge English professor who when we first meet him is carrying on his father’s legacy of lecturing to adoring co-eds about the Romantic Age while humping them after class. One of those co-eds, Kate (Jessica Alba), has snared him. [Read more…]

Ask The Dust (2006 USA)

1939. John Fante writes “Ask the Dust” about a young man embarking on a literary career. Years later a young Robert Towne voraciously devours Fante’s novels, most of which attempt to paint a portrait of early 20th century Los Angeles. Decades pass. Towne embarks on his own literary career. He scores big with his script for Roman Polanski’s “Chinatown”, a LA noir influenced and flavoured by Fante. Towne and Fante personally meet in the 1970s. Fante dies in 1983. Two decades later Towne adapts “Ask the Dust” for the screen… [Read more…]

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