There is a formal adventurousness here typical of Kurosawa, who has seesawed between genres both throughout his career (horror, sci-fi, and dramas like Tokyo Sonata) and within individual films (Doppelganger transitions from a loss-of-identity thriller to a sort of satirical romance). The constant element is a sure-footed aesthetic precision.
An occasional tin ear for old-guy dialogue suggests Linklater might still be more comfortable with the casual-philosophical badinage of those a decade or more his junior, but the 12-year gestation gives the film the distance crucial to its angry, sad, but, in hindsight, wise perspective on the early Iraq War years.
Free Fire is often reminiscent of the cash-in Tarantino-esque titles that invaded video stores after Pulp Fiction, time capsules like 2 Days in the Valley, City of Industry, or 8 Heads in a Duffel Bag, rather than being a new or exciting thing of its own.
There is high public interest in stand-up comedy, evidenced by the popularity of Louie, The Aristocrats . . . the ability of comics like Hannibal Buress and Amy Schumer to make headlines and the preponderance of specials on streaming services like Netflix. But the subject has been a hard nut for narrative features to crack.
Even while I worry about Lonergan's cinematic prospects, his film makes me optimistic about the state of the medium. I picked it for this symposium not because I foresee a litter of other Margarets in the future, but because of the happy fact of its existence.
The Twilight franchise has a reputation for lacking subtlety. The choice between a shirtless werewolf boy-man (Team Jacob) and a sparkling vampire (Team Edward) has thus far been the series’ major cultural contribution.