One Damn Thing After Another: Hollywood Homicide (2003)

It’s been fifteen years since Ron Shelton’s Hollywood Homicide (2003) was released to pretty bad reviews. A buddy-cop action-comedy starring Harrison Ford (after the classic Air Force One (1997) but before he got dragged back into franchises with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)) and Josh Hartnett (fresh off a box office hot streak with Pearl Harbor (2001), Black Hawk Down (2001), and 40 Days and 40 Nights (2002)), the film was faulted for its loose pace, unwieldy and confusing plot, lack of chemistry between the leads, and clichéd action sequences. On the whole, the critics weren’t wrong. But those faults only matter if you think you’re walking into a certain kind of film, when in fact, Hollywood Homicide is a whole other kettle of fish. Roger Ebert is one of the few critics who got it. Let’s take a look at what everyone else missed.

Continue reading “One Damn Thing After Another: Hollywood Homicide (2003)”

Advertisements

The Haunter and the Haunted: A Ghost Story (2017)

In a filmgoing market flooded with headache-inducing action flicks and facepalm-worthy rom-coms, when filmmakers go wild over the infinite possibilities of CGI (most of which possibilities are bad), the retro style of David Lowery’s A Ghost Story (2017) feels downright iconoclastic. It’s shot with elegance, grace, and design, yet it still preserves a sense of spontaneity and associative logic thanks to some on-set editing by Shane Carruth, of Primer (2004) and Upstream Color (2013) fame. Lowery is a student of Terrence Malick, and given the commonalities among the styles of these three, and a thematic continuity between them and Richard Linklater, I’m ready to declare a new Texan school of filmmaking. Who’s with me?

Continue reading “The Haunter and the Haunted: A Ghost Story (2017)”

The Case for Cinema Vérité: The Days 3 (Shenghuo Eryi 3 / 生活而已3 2017)

Editor’s note: This piece is part of a series on the 2018 Taiwan International Documentary Festival.

I previously wrote a piece decrying the filmmaker interventions in cinema vérité as nothing more than “bells and whistles.” Perhaps I simply hadn’t considered what kind of documentary cinema vérité is truly suited for. The Days 3 (Shenghuo Eryi 3 / 生活而已3 2017), by Chinese documentarian Wei Xiaobo, is a documentary that would be not only impossible but inappropriate to make any other way.

Continue reading “The Case for Cinema Vérité: The Days 3 (Shenghuo Eryi 3 / 生活而已3 2017)”

Thoughts on I Didn’t Dare to Tell You (Bugan Genni Jiang / 不敢跟你講 1969)

Editor’s note: This piece is part of a series on the 2018 Taiwan International Documentary Festival.

I Didn’t Dare to Tell You (Bugan Genni Jiang / 不敢跟你講 1969), the debut of Taiwanese director Mou Tun-fei, was never theatrically released. No one’s sure whether this is because it was banned—but on what grounds?—or because the indie production team ran out of cash for distribution. After restoration and digital conversion by the Taiwan Film Institute, and despite apparently missing its eighth reel, it was finally screened during this year’s festival. The screening I attended was only the second in its history.

Continue reading “Thoughts on I Didn’t Dare to Tell You (Bugan Genni Jiang / 不敢跟你講 1969)”