No Sudden Move
An ironic title for a film that involves so many stunning little shifts in loyalty between its characters, Steven Soderbergh's "No Sudden Move" is his best film in years. Beginning as a modest crime picture in which three men (Don Cheadle, Benecio Del Toro and Kieran Culkin) are assembled to conduct a straightforward kidnapping and extortion gig in 1950's Detroit and ending as a (naturally) cynical exploration of criminals who think they've got it all figured out, Soderbergh and screenwriter Ed Solomon wring so much subtle electricity out of the genre that the film ends up feeling downright revelatory. Co-starring David Harbour, Amy Seimitz, Brendan Fraser, Jon Hamm, Ray Liotta and Julia Fox as people spinning on the edges of the mistrust and deceptively-lined noir frame, "No Sudden Move" is the perfect project for Soderergh, at once a puff-piece of big star entertainment before it lines up all the cool whiffs of genre and settles into a brilliantly choreographed example of the genre's best.
Summer of Soul
I was already entranced by Questlove's sewing together of the long forgotten footage from the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival- partly from the crisp footage of soul, gospel and R&B acts that danced their way across the hearts and minds of those present and partly for the immense joy in discovering such an event lost in time- but the moment Sly and the Family Stone took the stage, "Summer of Soul" became a transformative film. And as one of the people interviewed recollects, it seems right to call that one performance the crash-through of barriers from the old-school doo-wop paradigm of entertainment to the modern age of funk 'hippieness'. Beyond just a performance film, Questlove has surrounded this amazing documentary with reflective cultural significance. Yes, we get the music, but he also instills a deep sense of shifting history in the moment, from the sour celebration of the have-nots in America to the joyous walk on the moon to the overshadowing by Woodstock. "Summer of Soul" is a terrific film.
My review of "Val" can be found at Dallas Film Now