All posts filed under: Movies


Review of “Veronica Mars”: the gumshoe is back and in fine form

If you’ve ever watched an episode of “Veronica Mars”, the fantastic teenage noir show that was cancelled too soon, you would know that Veronica (Kristen Bell) and her on-again-off-again flame, Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring), were the lifeblood of the series. Although Veronica was never defined by her romantic relationships – she was always too smart, strong, ambitious, and independent for that – the screen positively crackles when these two show up together. It helps that Dohring and Bell give great performances with equal parts pathos and perfect comic timing. They practically jump off the screen every time we see them together in the film. You’d start watching the show because of Veronica, the expert gumshoe and defender of the downtrodden whose constant wisecracking masks her emotional damage. You’d keep coming back to see her sweet, realistic relationship with her doting father Keith (Enrico Colantini), a private investigator; she used to work on cases with him after-school. And, of course, for her tumultuous and magnetic relationship with the bad boy and hopelessly entitled son-of-a-movie-star, Logan Echolls. …

Photo by Pamela Gentile, courtesy of San Francisco Film Society.

Chilean director Sebastian Silva discusses his psychological thriller “Magic Magic”, directing actors, and finding the right way to use music in a film

For the last two weeks, Chilean writer-director Sebastian Silva has been in San Francisco as the Winter 2014 Artist in Residence with the San Francisco Film Society, talking about his craft with high school and college students, as well as other filmmakers. He also gave a Q&A at a special screening of his most recent film,  “Magic Magic”, a psychological thriller about a young woman, Alicia (Juno Temple), who goes to visit her cousin in Chile, and finds herself surrounded by her cousin’s unwelcoming boyfriend (Sebastian’s real-life brother, Agustin Silva), his sister, and his closeted friend (Michael Cera). The Seventh Row sat down with Silva earlier this week to discuss making “Magic Magic”, his body of work, and what he’s got coming up on the horizon. The Seventh Row: Where did the idea for “Magic Magic”, which is sort of a horror film, come from? Sebastian Silva: It’s more disturbing than horrifying. I thought about movies that had disturbed me. There is a very exquisite disturbance that early Polanski movies produced in me, like “Rosemary’s Baby” …

Tim Jenison, wearing his surgical loupes, inspects Johannes Vermeer’s “Woman with a Lute” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Photo by Shane F. Kelly, © 2013 High Delft Pictures LLC, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics. All Rights Reserved.

Review of “Tim’s Vermeer”: Did using lenses and mirrors make Johannes Vermeer a master painter?

In a time when painters were rigourously trained, how did the untrained Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675) create such luminous, lasting masterpieces? According to inventor-techie Tim Jenison, he may have been equally adept at tinkering and made use of optical devices to help create a realistic look. Jenison sets out to prove this theory in Teller’s new documentary “Tim’s Vermeer” by very accurately re-creating Vermeer’s seventeenth century studio conditions, and attempting, without ever having picked up a paintbrush before, to reproduce Vermeer’s “The Music Lesson” with the help of a lens and a couple of mirror. That Vermeer and other painters may have had help from optical devices, such as the camera obscura, is not a new idea. In his 2001 book, “Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the Old Masters”, British painter David Hockney argued that the revolution that painting underwent in the Renaissance, to resemble more photographic and realistic images, was because artists began to use optical aids rather than merely the evolution of technique and skill. Architecture Professor Philip Steadman wrote the book …


Sundance Review of “Frank”: Getting inside his (gigantic cartoon paper mâché) head

Irish director Lenny Abrahamson’s charming, offbeat comedy, “Frank”, about a talented musician (Michael Fassbender) who has chosen to live his life inside a paper mâché head, had its world premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. We see Frank through the eyes of Jon (Domhnall Gleeson), an aspiring musician, who starts the film trying and failing to come up with an original composition: when a lady in a red coat walks by him, he writes the not so enlightened lyrics “lady in the red coat, what you doing with that bag?”. He’s a pathetic excuse for a grown man, still living with his parents and working a brainless cubicle job: he proudly tweets to his seven followers such gems as “Ham and cheese panini #livingthedream”. By one of those movie magic happenstances, Jon finds himself on the beach when the American Band, Soronpfbs, which nobody including the band can pronounce, are struggling to prevent their keyboardist from committing suicide. They have a gig that night, and when Jon casually mentions he can play keyboards, they enlist him …