Personal Shopper, 2016 – ★★★½ (contains spoilers)

This review may contain spoilers.

It’s as if Assayas took the mood of the final 10 minutes of “Clouds of Sils Maria” and kept Stewart’s character on. A film about wandering around rootless in grief, Stewart’s Maureen is like a ghost herself: buying clothes for a celebrity she never sees, engaging in sexual/stalkery games with a mysterious texter, inhabiting rooms that are not her own, but finding no solace at home either. She talks earlier about being a medium and how it’s often like looking through the crack of a door…in a film that has numerous mysterious doors, including one that feels positively Lynchian in its menace. Even the ending, which promises human connection as last, eludes Maureen that which she desires. Great stuff. Stewart is perfect for these haunted roles.

Vía Letterboxd – Ted Mills

Personal Shopper, 2016 – ★★★½ (contains spoilers)

This review may contain spoilers.

It’s as if Assayas took the mood of the final 10 minutes of “Clouds of Sils Maria” and kept Stewart’s character on. A film about wandering around rootless in grief, Stewart’s Maureen is like a ghost herself: buying clothes for a celebrity she never sees, engaging in sexual/stalkery games with a mysterious texter, inhabiting rooms that are not her own, but finding no solace at home either. She talks earlier about being a medium and how it’s often like looking through the crack of a door…in a film that has numerous mysterious doors, including one that feels positively Lynchian in its menace. Even the ending, which promises human connection as last, eludes Maureen that which she desires. Great stuff. Stewart is perfect for these haunted roles.

Vía Letterboxd – Ted Mills

Personal Shopper, 2016 – ★★★½ (contains spoilers)

This review may contain spoilers.

It’s as if Assayas took the mood of the final 10 minutes of “Clouds of Sils Maria” and kept Stewart’s character on. A film about wandering around rootless in grief, Stewart’s Maureen is like a ghost herself: buying clothes for a celebrity she never sees, engaging in sexual/stalkery games with a mysterious texter, inhabiting rooms that are not her own, but finding no solace at home either. She talks earlier about being a medium and how it’s often like looking through the crack of a door…in a film that has numerous mysterious doors, including one that feels positively Lynchian in its menace. Even the ending, which promises human connection as last, eludes Maureen that which she desires. Great stuff. Stewart is perfect for these haunted roles.

Vía Letterboxd – Ted Mills

You Were Never Really Here, 2017 – ★★★½

A grimy, ultimately *too* claustrophobic Taxi Driver-esque portrayal of a suicidal hitman who gets more than he bargained for when hired to rescue a young girl from a child-sex ring. Everybody in this film is traumatized, and we soon figure out that the weapon-of-choice of “Joe” (Joaquin Phoenix, scarred and paunchy in body) is tied in to his own childhood. (This gets reworked near the end, suggesting that trauma has been passed down but in a different way.)

It’s shocking, it will make you jump, but Ramsey clevely does a lot of the brutal violence off-screen, not that you notice this while watching. I would have liked to have spent a little longer with some of these characters–a lot happens wordlessly–but this is how Ramsey chose to do it.

Great score by Jonny Greenwood, too.

Vía Letterboxd – Ted Mills

You Were Never Really Here, 2017 – ★★★½

A grimy, ultimately *too* claustrophobic Taxi Driver-esque portrayal of a suicidal hitman who gets more than he bargained for when hired to rescue a young girl from a child-sex ring. Everybody in this film is traumatized, and we soon figure out that the weapon-of-choice of “Joe” (Joaquin Phoenix, scarred and paunchy in body) is tied in to his own childhood. (This gets reworked near the end, suggesting that trauma has been passed down but in a different way.)

It’s shocking, it will make you jump, but Ramsey clevely does a lot of the brutal violence off-screen, not that you notice this while watching. I would have liked to have spent a little longer with some of these characters–a lot happens wordlessly–but this is how Ramsey chose to do it.

Great score by Jonny Greenwood, too.

Vía Letterboxd – Ted Mills

I Feel Pretty, 2018 – ★½

I want to recommend this to my film students as an example of how *not* to direct or edit comedy. Every time a laugh could have been wrestled out of a tepid situation, the scene cuts early. Every time a reaction shot could have been funny, they cut to something too soon. Add to that a premise that hasn’t been thought out–her delusion in image is one thing, but why does she turn from a type B personality to type A? Why is she nice to her boyfriend but a mean-girl to her friends? And shouldn’t a comedy end with a big comedy set piece? This ends with an inspirational speech about regular women having confidence…and that’s why they need to buy budget cosmetics.

Was the Amy Schumer show written and performed by completely different people (including Amy?)

Saving graces: Michelle Williams spaced out CEO (when’s the last time she did comedy? Do more!) and Aidy Bryant wringing laughs out of nowhere.

Vía Letterboxd – Ted Mills

I Feel Pretty, 2018 – ★½

I want to recommend this to my film students as an example of how *not* to direct or edit comedy. Every time a laugh could have been wrestled out of a tepid situation, the scene cuts early. Every time a reaction shot could have been funny, they cut to something too soon. Add to that a premise that hasn’t been thought out–her delusion in image is one thing, but why does she turn from a type B personality to type A? Why is she nice to her boyfriend but a mean-girl to her friends? And shouldn’t a comedy end with a big comedy set piece? This ends with an inspirational speech about regular women having confidence…and that’s why they need to buy budget cosmetics.

Was the Amy Schumer show written and performed by completely different people (including Amy?)

Saving graces: Michelle Williams spaced out CEO (when’s the last time she did comedy? Do more!) and Aidy Bryant wringing laughs out of nowhere.

Vía Letterboxd – Ted Mills

Thelma, 2017 – ★★★ (contains spoilers)

This review may contain spoilers.

“A Nordic ‘Carrie'” sounds dismissive, but “Thelma” *is* that with many more layers of complexity. Eili Harboe plays the title character, raised by fundamentalist Christians in a very secular Norway whose telekinetic powers are unleashed once she leaves home for college and falls in love with Alma (Kaya Wilkins). The sexual awakening is nicely done, even erotic, and the filmmakers get in some ambiguity by suggesting that perhaps Kaya’s attraction to Thelma isn’t exactly of her own free will.

However, the film does seem to be building up to a major set piece along the lines of the Stephen King film, and when it doesn’t (spoiler!) it feels off-kilter to me. “Thelma” does contain some striking images, cinematography, locations (what a beautiful opera house!), and Harboe puts in a great performance. The portrayal of Christianity is nuanced and not shrill. It has layers. Worth your time.

Vía Letterboxd – Ted Mills

Thelma, 2017 – ★★★ (contains spoilers)

This review may contain spoilers.

“A Nordic ‘Carrie'” sounds dismissive, but “Thelma” *is* that with many more layers of complexity. Eili Harboe plays the title character, raised by fundamentalist Christians in a very secular Norway whose telekinetic powers are unleashed once she leaves home for college and falls in love with Alma (Kaya Wilkins). The sexual awakening is nicely done, even erotic, and the filmmakers get in some ambiguity by suggesting that perhaps Kaya’s attraction to Thelma isn’t exactly of her own free will.

However, the film does seem to be building up to a major set piece along the lines of the Stephen King film, and when it doesn’t (spoiler!) it feels off-kilter to me. “Thelma” does contain some striking images, cinematography, locations (what a beautiful opera house!), and Harboe puts in a great performance. The portrayal of Christianity is nuanced and not shrill. It has layers. Worth your time.

Vía Letterboxd – Ted Mills

Some Interesting Links 04.18.2018

Here are things I read today:

Kottke is still blogging and he’s made the point that post-Facebook, post-social media, you gotta own your own material. Recently he asked others if they were still blogging. And yes, yes they are. I particularly liked the mjtsai blog on tech

This track was used in a loop on a 2006 Joe Frank episode I was listening to:

We’re nearly finished with Season 3 of Better Call Saul. I enjoyed this convo with Michael McKean (so good!) and showrunner Peter Gould.

Exploring an abandoned Chinese fishing village by drone.

How #metoo is affecting the world of stand-up comedy. Tiny violins for guys who can’t make crap sexist jokes anymore, bwaaaaa.