Sins of the Father: Calvary

Posted in Review with tags , , on August 18, 2014 by Timothy Parfitt

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Brendan Gleeson has quite a face. Wide, pock-marked, and in the film Calvary, covered in a regal red-and-grey beard; he resembles a sad lion. Calvary is an existential mystery set in Sligo, Ireland. It follows Father James (Gleeson) as he spends a week fending off evil forces and investigating the spiritual malaise of his town.  In the very first scene, a man threatens his life in confession, telling him he’ll die in one week’s time.

The unknown accuser claims he was molested by a different priest years ago. Father James, though innocent, will have to pay for a dead man’s sins. Continue reading

Funky, Mysterious, Incomprehensible

Posted in Review with tags , , on August 11, 2014 by Timothy Parfitt

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The rare musical biopic where the music is at the forefront, Get on Up makes the case that James Brown’s music is at least as important as James Brown the man. Raw energy comes through by the bucketful as Brown (Chadwick Boseman) grunts, growls and shimmies across the screen.

One of the (mostly) refreshing aspects of the film is the way it avoids traditional Behind-the-Music-style redemptive arcs. Continue reading

Killing Season 4: Reanimated

Posted in Review with tags , , on August 3, 2014 by Timothy Parfitt

 

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The Killing, the show that will not die, is done for. Cancelled three times over the span of four seasons, the mostly excellent, frequently infuriating show capped off its run with a six episode fourth season on Netflix. Typical of the original content on the video streaming site, the whole season premiered simultaneously, in this case last Friday, August 1st. I gorged obligingly, and here are my thoughts (MAJOR SPOILERS FOLLOW).

Continue reading

Dollhouse in Decline: Grand Budapest Hotel

Posted in Review with tags , on March 22, 2014 by Timothy Parfitt

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At this point, most viewers who are familiar with Wes Anderson films know where they stand. Either they find them enchanting or precious. After Moonrise Kingdom, I had been leaning towards the latter, but Grand Budapest Hotel won me over. There’s an appealing grandness  of scale that’s been lacking from some of his recent work. It’s as if his dollhouse has expanded to include a whole chunk of history and (fictionalized) geography.

The film follows the adventures of Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes) a world-class concierge and his trusty “Lobby Boy” Zero (Tony Revololi) through a series of adventures involving dead elderly lovers, disputed wills, a priceless painting and an alpine chase scene. Continue reading

Downton Abbey 4: TEA COZIER

Posted in TV (Prime-time) with tags , , , on January 6, 2014 by Timothy Parfitt

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Last night was the U.S. premiere of the fourth season of Downton Abbey.  I watched it in a group, and there was a lot of faux-gasping (mostly on my part) and explaining (for the one guy who had only seen one episode). “Who’s that?” “The sister.” Who’s that?” “The other sister, the ugly one.” “Wait, who’s that?” “The butler, the evil one.”

The whole affair was enjoyable, even if I took offense at shameless smushing together two one-hour episodes and calling it a two-hour premiere.  The stiff and formal characters were rigid, the paterfamilias was patriarchal and condescending (“Leave Lady Mary alone, she’s too grief stricken to bathe/breath/think/eat/poop!”) and Maggie Smith dispatched with her requisite zingers. Continue reading

Killer with a Code

Posted in Catch-up on January 2, 2014 by Timothy Parfitt

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I finally got around to watching Parker, the new Jason Stratham-as-Parker iteration of Donald Westlake’s most amoral criminal survivalist. Having read all of the 24 Parker books, I qualify as a fan-boy, so I’ll do my best not to bore you with a laundry list of ways it’s not EXACTLY LIKE THE BOOK. The movie has a nice, punchy, old-school action movie vibe. Cars crash, people shoot other people, heisters double cross each other, all without the aid of shape-shifting robots or CGI dinosaurs. Continue reading

Cons, Comb-Overs and Necklines: American Hustle

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , on January 2, 2014 by Timothy Parfitt
Christian Bale in full method-mode.

Christian Bale in full method-mode.

American Hustle is a movie about con men and con ladies.  It features a hair-based “we’re all con men” analogy . The opening scene shows a paunchy Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) constructing an elaborate comb-over and toupee concoction that requires multiple steps, precision timing, hairsprays and glues. Then there’s hard-charging FBI agent Richie DiMasio (Bradley Cooper), who perms his hair with rollers to create that perfect seventies white boy fro. The visual analogy end there, though Amy Adams’ character has a spiffy fake English accent and Jennifer Lawrence has a lot of feelings.

Irving and Sydney Prosser (Adams) are just two con people in love, selling marks fake high interest loans and frolicking around the back of Irving’s dry cleaning business. DiMasio busts up the party, and soon has them reeling in progressively bigger fish, like the mayor of Camden (Jeremy Renner) and a Florida mob boss (Robert De Niro). The pull this off with the help of a Mexican FBI agent impersonating an Arab Sheik.

Costumes are great, incredible disco dance sequence with Cooper and Adams, and everyone involved seemed to be having a lot of fun. The whole affair has a lot of hearts, and unexpected laughs. I was riding high on deep dish pizza, but the crowd I saw it with loved it, I was as entertained as I’ve been at the movies this year, and I expect this’ll clean up come Oscar time.

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