Blade Runner 2049

Blade Runner 2049. Pretty. Good. Can’t say I like it as much as the original. I think they could have bumped the pace a bit without losing much. But there are far worse ways to bathe in goofy visuals.

Song to Song


Song to Song. Rooney Mara might be the best dizzy princess Malick’s ever had. This one also has some of the best music. It’s also one of the few Malick’s to ever make me laugh multiple times. I was surprisingly swept up for the first hour or so. And yet… the staying power wasn’t there for me. Still good, though.

Updated Terrence Malick power rankings:

  1. Days of Heaven (as if!)
  2. The New World
  3. Badlands
  4. The Thin Red Line
  5. The Tree of Life (maybe one spot higher?)
  6. Song to Song
  7. To the Wonder
  8. Knight of Cups

That is a solid body of work.

The Place Beyond the Pines

The Place Beyond the Pines. This was my second viewing (cf. the first), and I really really liked it. The whole thing hung together for me better this time. One thing I noticed the second time around that I appreciated: the movie opens with the sound of Gosling’s breathing prominent; the second main chapter opens with Cooper’s. I would watch a feature film made entirely of those tracking road shots.


Drive. Third viewing. That elevator scene is still top notch. I’m a sucker for any movie that suspends time to drift into a moment just because. Oscar Isaac has some of the best casual menace in the game right now. Filed under: Drive.

Only God Forgives

Only God Forgives. Almost fell asleep. Veeerrry nice to look at, here and there, but it’s kinda boring. Even setting aside plot and taking everything as symbol or allegory or myth or archetype, the tension didn’t hold for me. None of the energy or electricity you see in Drive. Not quite as starkly focused as Valhalla Rising. No knockout performance like in Bronson. All that said, I did dig the ongoing hands/power/potency theme, and the use of an international setting without a ton of dumb exoticizing.

The Place Beyond the Pines

The Place Beyond the Pines. It’s a bummer that the wind goes out of the sails when Gosling leaves the screen, but that’s still to his and the director’s credit for those parts of the movie. And Mendes was fantastic. What a talent. I just wish the third act hadn’t run out of gas. But, then again, I think that’s partly me being snob-weary-dreary-bonehead, “Oh, another fathers and sons tale” and not wanting to give in to it. It’s good, though. Derek Cianfrance’s Blue Valentine is pretty sharp, too.


Drive. Second viewing. (The first.) I told myself I was just going to watch the opening scenes again, but I kept going. This time around I find myself enjoying the directing and mechanics even more and the plot/characters so much less. I can’t handle the beach scene. Still, those first 20-40 minutes? That’s some good stuff.

Blue Valentine

Blue Valentine. My first reaction: it’s a snuff film. My second reaction: it’s not entertainment. Which is right and wrong. Tragedy isn’t fun, but it is appealing in that train-wreck-in-slow-motion kind of way. The shifting back and forth in time lets you see, in parallel, their courtship (including a falling-in-love montage I will lazily/accurately describe as “cloyingly indie”) and their crumbling. Nice to see signals of their growing union fall into place (e.g., She starts wearing his jacket. One tune played is later revealed to be “their song” from back in the day. Etc.). Ebert observes wisely: “Dean thinks marriage is the station. Cindy thought it was the train.”


Drive. I liked it about as much as I liked the book, which is to say it’s a damn fine way to pass a couple hours. Excellent opening scene, then putters just slightly. Much slower, quieter than I expected but the supporting cast keeps it alive. It’s like a lot of film noir in that way – much of the movie’s momentum is from the hero cornered, reacting to other people’s plans. Interpretive tip: it’s not about driving cars. Good soundtrack. The movie wouldn’t be the same (wouldn’t be possible?) without it. Gosling’s role makes me think of Eastwood’s roles as the Man With No Name and William Munny, and Delon’s in Le Samouraï and a little bit of Clooney’s in The American.