Monday, November 13, 2017
"Fittingly, the perennial question of whether art and artist can possibly be detached from one another looms heavily over I Love You, Daddy, which finds C.K. alter ego Glen Topher tormented by the sudden involvement of his teenage daughter, China (Chloë Grace Moretz), with an illustrious film director, Leslie Goodwin (John Malkovich), who also happens to be a rumored sexual predator—a simultaneously cerebral and ingratiating type who splits the difference between Woody Allen and Roman Polanski. A terrific Malkovich is fully at ease under a goatee and a sarong, investing every one of Leslie's highfalutin proclamations with a strange brew of sociopathic detachment and charitable curiosity. Slyly repelling any villainous narratives surrounding himself, Leslie is defined by an inscrutability that drives C.K.'s prosperous TV writer—and us—up the walls and fuels the film's anguished interrogation."
Full review of Louis C.K.'s new (and now not-to-be-released) film I Love You, Daddy is up at Slant Magazine. Note: I filed this piece shortly before a NY Times exposé was published outing C.K. as a sexual predator. I stand by my review, but there's certainly discomfort in having it out there, knowing that in some way pieces like this enable a Hollywood system that has historically supported men like C.K.
Monday, November 6, 2017
"At once a vacation movie and a homecoming story, a coming-of-age and coming-out tale, and a study of both teen epiphanies and adult convictions, writer-director Stephen Cone’s Princess Cyd is distinguished by a dramatic complexity that would seem to run counter to its remarkably even-tempered tone. The film’s summertime plot picks up nine years after a tragic incident left Cyd Loughlin (Jessie Pinnick) without a mother—a backstory revealed obliquely in the police recording that opens the film, then detailed later in a cathartic speech delivered by Cyd in close-up to the camera. In spite of this turbulent history, however, the film’s characters exhibit few obvious traces of having persevered through unthinkable trauma, and this is the clearest indication of Cone’s maturity as a dramatist. Instead of underlining past disturbances with ornery character traits, the director examines well-adjusted individuals who’ve managed to compartmentalize their pain."
Full review continues at Slant.
Friday, November 3, 2017
"After scrupulously analyzing the rippling effects of a man’s moment of human weakness in Force Majeure, Ruben Östlund has adopted a more panoramic view for The Square, edging his latest film closer to the vignette-driven narrative terrain of 2008’s Involuntary. Juggling the handful of interconnected tribulations that overwhelm Christian (Claes Bang), the curator of a reputable Stockholm contemporary art museum, in the run-up to the opening of a new relational art exhibition called The Square, the film grabs at a pinwheel of hot-button social topics including class privilege, liberal guilt, urban poverty, viral marketing, and mutually reinforced passivity in the face of mounting inhumanity, winding up with something simultaneously overstuffed and undercooked. While Östlund’s mastery of visually amplifying social unease is still very much intact, he’s partially undone here by his own thematic ambition, which, in scene after exquisitely staged scene, threatens to put too fine a point on otherwise thrillingly indeterminate situational comedy."
My review of Ruben Östlund's very disappointing Palme D'Or winner and NYFF selection continues at Slant.