Review: Albert Maysles’ Iris

iris

It’s somewhat bittersweet that Albert Maysles’ Iris arrives in theaters just weeks after the much-lamented passing of the great documentarian, but as penultimate send-offs go, it’s a delight. (His final film, In Transit, just screened at the Tribeca Film Festival.) Playful, gently incisive, and full of life, Iris is a fitting tribute to Maysles’ enduring sensibilities as a filmmaker, and in its peak moments can comfortably stand alongside his best work. Continue reading

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Review: The Age of Adaline

ageofadalineThere’s an endearing scene midway through The Age of Adaline, the new time-hopping romantic drama starring Blake Lively, in which two lovers swoon in the back of a 1930s convertible at an abandoned movie theater, marveling at the constellation of phosphorescent stars scattered across the cavernous art deco ceiling above them. It’s an evocative moment, and a litmus test to how an audience might react to the film: like those glow-in-the-dark stars in our childhood bedrooms of yore, Adaline is patently, proudly artificial, unabashedly corny and—recalling those tragic teen nights one might spend fixated on a phony galaxy—just that little bit moving. It’s a sentimental picture wrapped in a vaguely science fiction outer, old fashioned and earnest in a good way—the kind of film you’d take your kid sister to see (one of cinema’s highest recommendations, by the way.) Continue reading

Review: Ryan Gosling’s “Lost River”

loztriverSome movies arrive in body bags, crushed under the weight of toxic advance word to which too many critics, eager to join the consensus pile-on, gleefully align themselves. Since its catastrophic reception at Cannes nearly a year ago, Ryan Gosling’s directorial debut has been one such marked for death, variously derided as an exercise in stylistic posturing that steals fatuously from David Lynch, Gaspar Noé, and, worst of all, Nicholas Winding Refn, who hasn’t recovered from the residual loathing for his own Only God Forgives. That those names read like an aspirational broteur wishlist didn’t help matters, nor do the standard poseur suspicions toward actor-turned-directors. While Lost River isn’t some misunderstood masterpiece, neither is it as awful as advertised. As incoherent dream states go, you could do a lot worse—and at this point, that’s what amounts to high praise. Continue reading