****/**** starring KiKi Layne, Stephan James, Colman Domingo, Regina King screenplay by Barry Jenkins, based on the book by James Baldwin directed by Barry Jenkins
by Walter Chaw Barry Jenkins's If Beale Street Could Talk evokes Wallace Stevens's "The Snowman" and its idea of nothing beholding the nothing that is there and the nothing that isn't. It is all of the delirious, sublime rapture of falling in love; and it is all of the terrible fear of losing love to a capricious world that's rooting against you and rooting hard. The lips that would kiss are the same that form prayers to broken stones. If Beale Street Could Talk is about race and it's about sex--gender, somewhat, but more about how sex is politicized, used as a verb and an adjective, and there in the touch a sculptor gives his creation or lips give a cigarette. It's in the words that lovers old and new use together and it's in the sultry twilight where you can see the shape of your possible futures outlined as shadows against the exhaustion of another day. Baldwin's literature is seduction. His characters urge one another to listen and to use care when speaking. Words have meaning in Baldwin's world because in their interaction between the speaker and the listener, that's sex, too. He offers that there's harmony, even beauty, in the world, then shows the world in its bitterness and ugliness and challenges you to see it for yourself. I usually can't. Barry Jenkins, judging by the evidence of his films, can. It makes this adaptation by Jenkins of Baldwin's novel of the same name something a little like magic--you know, a little like sex.
Please note that all framegrabs are from the 1080p version
**½/**** Image A Sound A Extras B+ starring Jack Black, Cate Blanchett, Owen Vaccaro, Kyle MacLachlan screenplay by Eric Kripke, based on the novel by John Bellairs directed by Eli Roth
by Bryant Frazer What happens when Hollywood's foremost torture-porn impresario channels his inner child and goes into business with Amblin Entertainment as a director-for-hire on a kid-friendly adaptation of a young-adult thriller from the early-1970s? Well, you get something like Eli Roth's The House with a Clock in Its Walls--nobody's idea of an innovative masterpiece, but at least an unpretentious, lavishly-designed, and mischievously-executed spookshow. Adapted by "Supernatural" creator Eric Kripke from a novel written by John Bellairs and illustrated by none other than Edward Gorey, The House with a Clock in Its Walls is one of those sad-orphan-is-sent-away-to-live-with-a-distant-relative yarns that begins with a young boy's arrival in an unfamiliar city. Naturally, he becomes privy to magical goings-on that open a window on the wider, more dangerous world before him.