Short Takes

I haven’t posted in a while. but that does not mean that I haven’t been “screening”. This week in lieu of an extended discussion I am going to give one or two lines regarding my film choices these past two weeks and hope it’s helpful. To start with here is a review by Bruce Pierini — of an Art House film

Leave “French Exit” for Others(a Bruce Pierini review)

First trip back today (4.18.21) to an art house cinema for French Exit with Michele Pfeiffer. I admit going mostly for big screen views of Paris (aren’t we all dying to travel?) and I had read a rather bad review going in. So I wasn’t expecting much. Well I wasn’t disappointed. I could find very little to like. The two leads, Pfeiffer and Lucas Hodges have the emotional range of an earthworm. I don’t know how much the fault is the screenplay (Do upper-class New Yorkers really talk in such stilted ways?). There is little wit in most attempts to be darkly humorous.

For us to identify and care about the main character, an aloof, seen-it-all and over-the-hill former socialite-glamour queen, we need to get something from her character that can explain her ennui and thus allow us to emphathize with her. As it was I didn’t care if she were hit by a bus. It’s all a kind of a forced screenplay that is too-clever-by-half.

Definitely one to skip.

“Mr and Mrs. Adelman” (Amazon) My review

Another misguided French bomb. Is it a comedy? A drama? Don’t know. Don’t care. I thought it could be a kind of fun French romp. But it isn’t. It’s just awful. gave it an hour of my life hoping it would get better.

If you haven’t seen these –do so! (Most of the below I watched on Amazon, but some are on Kanopy and free. Kanopy has added some really great movies to its collection. Many of the annoying glitches are gone and reception is much better. And it’s FREE!)

“In the Loop” Clever, witty and British humor at its best. A few years old but the politics of war haven’t changed The film’s focus is on the invasion of Iraq and U.S./British relationship.

“The Sound of Metal” I was astonished by critics who found it “meh.” I think it is an extraordinary film. It’s not up for extended review because of its Academy Award status and so much has already been written about it. I’d rather write about lesser known movies.

“Contact” (Amazon) In the early 60’s the Australian government was about to use a remote area for bomb testing. A routine search just to make sure there were no inhabitants uncovered a group of aboriginal women and children who had never seen or had contact with anyone outside their clan. The film footage is fascinating and so are the two now middle-aged and “westernized” narrators relating their experience of the original encounter.

“Embrace of the Serpent” (Kanopy) Another don’t miss. This is a weirdly powerful film–part “Aguirre, The Wrath of God” part “Heart of Darkness” and part road movie in a canoe on the Amazon, it may well be unlike any film you have ever seen. Inspired by the writings of the German ethnologist Theodor Koch-Grunberg and the American botanist and psychedelic researcher Richard Evans Schultes, who studied the indigenous peoples of the Amazon decades apart, Serpent provides a view of the destruction of the Amazon and its people in an unforgettable narrative part fiction and all truth.

“Extreme Job” (Amazon)Yes I am enamored with South Korean cinema. But not this comedy. It was on a “Best” list so I tried it. Really stupid, not funny. Thirty minutes of my life thrown away.

Ken Burns “Hemingway” (HBO) Lots of press on this one and I have nothing bad to say–pretty much all good, so if you haven’t seen it, strong recommendation.

Ken Burns “Mark Twain” (HBO) Wonderful documentary about an incredible writer. You will like him so much more than Hemingway.

“Honeyland” (Amazon Prime) Gorgeous, fascinating portrait of a woman beekeeper in Macedonia. This one deserves a full review, but I want you to stop reading and just go watch it.

“H is for Harry” (Kanopy) Although the ending is a bit confusing–like a huge and critical chunk of time escaped the filmmakers, it’s definitely an interesting and moving documentary. The subject is the Reach Academy in Feltham, west London. The focus is Harry, a white working-class boy: the demographic that gets the worst GCSE results. Harry’s well-meaning and loving father is illiterate as was his father. Not exactly a feel-good movie, it is nevertheless worth a watch.


  1. Loved “Sound of Metal” so much. Will watch “Honeyland” soon. Thanks for the review. p.s. I am watching Lovecraft Country. Have you watched?


    1. Btw that last comment about the review is from me—nycynic. Not sure why it comes out as Anonymous


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