• My Father's Glory

    My Father's Glory

    ★★★★

    Wes Anderson fans should check out this charming pair of films about bucolic childhood memories full of gentle humor, warm characters, country life, and a beautiful color palette. I accidentally watched them out of order - My Father's Glory goes first - but I enjoyed My Mother's Castle the most, perhaps because it had more of a plot. They're the perfect rainy day/lazy afternoon kind of movies.

  • My Mother's Castle

    My Mother's Castle

    ★★★★

    Wes Anderson fans should check out this charming pair of films about bucolic childhood memories full of gentle humor, warm characters, country life, and a beautiful color palette. I accidentally watched them out of order - My Father's Glory goes first - but I enjoyed My Mother's Castle the most, perhaps because it had more of a plot. They're the perfect rainy day/lazy afternoon kind of movies.

  • Mountains of the Moon

    Mountains of the Moon

    ★★★

    A grand exploration film about Sir Richard Burton seeking the source of the Nile that bombed when it came out. It's a hoorah for the old British empire movie that seems accurate in its explorer details, but the central conflict/relationship between Burton and fellow traveler John Speke could have used more work. It might have helped if I could have found a decent copy so I could enjoy Roger Deakins' cinematography, but I ended up renting it from Amazon and even their version was barely watchable. Still it was more engaging than The Lost City of Z.

  • The Prisoner of Zenda

    The Prisoner of Zenda

    ★★★★

    A childhood favorite with a clever story full of intrigue, action, and pageantry with a main character who is the utmost gentleman who's more than happy to put his life in jeopardy for a noble cause. It's been remade a dozen times, and many people prefer the 1936 original, which is terrific, but I just enjoy the actors in this one more. Stewart Granger is the perfect action hero, James Mason is gleeful in his villainy, and Deborah Kerr is worth risking your life for. I think it's time for another big budget remake.

  • Birdy

    Birdy

    ★★★★

    One of the few Alan Parker movies I never got around to seeing in the 80s, I think this wants to be an anti-war film about mental illness, but Birdy's affliction is so peculiar and specific that it overpowers any sort of social commentary the film might offer and it ends up as more of a bromance. It's carried by the performances of its two leads - a hinged Nicholas Cage and an unhinged Matthew Modine (giving the best performance I've seen from him, but I was never a big fan).

  • Zappa

    Zappa

    ★★★★

    A comprehensive overview of Frank Zappa's life, with a glimpse into his massive basement archives. If you've seen other Zappa documentaries, I'm not sure this adds a whole lot, but if not then this covers it all.

  • The Father

    The Father

    ★★★★

    A surprisingly short and nicely contained movie that's entirely focused on Anthony Hopkins' Kafkaesque experience with dementia. Stylistically it reminded me of I'm Thinking of Ending Things, although to a very different purpose, and much more grounded in reality. I don't have much to say about it other than it's good and Hopkins gives a stellar performance.

  • Annette

    Annette

    ★★★

    Another Kaufmanesque movie, although one without enough humor, which is surprising coming from the exceedingly comedic band Sparks. It is a musical in the sense that people are on screen singing, but it doesn't really have musical numbers. It's more just an environment where people happen to sing (but I kind of yearned for some big numbers and catchy Sparks-like songs). I appreciated it's bold weirdness and performances, but it's definitely not a movie for everyone, and it doesn't rush…

  • Rush

    Rush

    The European version of Ford vs. Ferrari. The whole movie is put together like a music montage, which has the effect of distancing us from the drama, but it's all held together by Daniel Bruhl's fascinatingly brusque performance. This is very uncharacteristic for a Ron Howard film. Apparently he traded projects with Paul Greengrass, who ended up making Captain Phillips - which would have been right up Howard's alley. Strange how you can see the remnants of the filmmakers in each film.

  • Cluny Brown

    Cluny Brown

    ★★★

    Ernst Lubitsch's last film is about a plumber's daughter who becomes a maid on a country estate. It took me a bit to get on the movie's wavelength, which takes place in the strictest British class society where the worst sin of all is impropriety, but once I did I found it mildly amusing. With its poking fun at the rigid class system and Charles Boyer doing his best Maurice Chevalier, it reminded me a lot of my second favorite…

  • Making Waves : The Art of Cinematic Sound

    Making Waves : The Art of Cinematic Sound

    ★★★★

    Fascinating if somewhat unfocused look into the often overlooked art of sound design in movies. A good chunk of the movie is just about sound innovations in the 1970s, and another part breaks down all the components of sound design from audio recording, sound effects, music, and editing (which could have been expanded on further), but it certainly makes you appreciate all that goes into a movie's soundtrack, and it would make a great companion to Visions of Light.

  • Wolf Hall

    Wolf Hall

    ★★★★

    I watched one episode of The Tudors and knew there's no way I was going to sit through four seasons of that garbage just to glean a few facts about Henry VIII, so I discovered this less saucy BBC series starring Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell. Cromwell was a lawyer working for Cardinal Wolsey until he became the confidant of Henry VIII. He was central in pushing for the King's divorce and England adopting Protestantism. The series complicated with a…