Film Review

The Big Sick

Some romantic comedies transcend the mundane and crawl into your heart and stay lodged in there forever. The Big Sick is one such movie. Hard to imagine how a "coma comedy" could work, but in the able hands of veteran comedy filmmakers Judd Apatow (Trainwreck, This Is 40) and Barry Mendel (Trainwreck, The Royal Tenebaums), director Michael Showalter (Hello My Name Is Doris), and actor/writer Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley), the outcome is unforgettable, especially given that it's based on Nanjiani and his wife's near-fatal relationship. Read more »

Baby Driver or Oedipus Wrecks

Vroom! Vroom! Ansel Elgort, the cute-as-cute-can-be lead of the cancer romance, The Fault in Our Stars, bops around Baby Driver like Saturday Night Fever’s Tony Manero, with his ear buds semi-glued in. You keep expecting a few disco balls to pop into view while the Bee Gees let loose on the soundtrack.

Sadly, no balls. No white suit. And not much of a credible plot in this frenetic crime/coming-of-age hybrid. Read more »

The Incomparable Rose Hartman: I Shot Andy Warhol... David Bowie... and Bianca Jagger on a Horse

If Andy were still strutting about nowadays, he might just tweak his "In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes" to "in the future, everyone will be starring in her own documentary or reality TV series."

The latest beneficiary of such a crowd-funded, ego-boosting journey into her past travails is the prickly “Tasmanian Devil of Photography,” octogenarian Rose Hartman. You who are of a certain age, especially those of you with fashionista leanings, will recall this salty soul's snapshots or at least those who were apprehended by her lens: Kate Moss, Steve Rubell, Elizabeth Taylor, Liza Minnelli, Truman Capote, Lenny Kravitz, and Linda Evangelista. Her candid images were mostly taken at society functions, discos, and fashion shows. Read more »

Re-Animate Me!

The 18th Annual Animation Show of Shows
SVA Theater, NYC

I became an animation fan -- a true aficionado -- early in life. It had little or nothing to do with children's shows on television (Hanna-Barbera, Speed Racer, Gigantor, et al), though I watched and liked most of them. Rather, it was probably when I first saw Fantasia (likely mid-1960s), and then The Jungle Book (1967) and (of course!) The Beatles' Yellow Submarine (1968). By that time, I was actively looking for good (or great) animation. I was not a fan of Disney (though I have a sentimental fondness for The Aristocats (1970)), and anime feature films did not become widely known in the U.S. until the 1980s.

Fearing The Aliens!

Alien: Covenant (20th Century Fox)

I really loved Prometheus, not as a cinematic masterpiece, but as movie-worthy prequel to Sir Ridley Scott's genre-defining 40 year-old masterpiece Alien. And having rewatched it again, Prometheus's smart narrative and deliberate storyline still resonate with me. Perhaps it is my age, and probably his, that that prequel raised major existential questions --  "why are we here?" and "who created us?" -- that resonate with In that film, why did the Engineers seed life in the ever-expanding universe and our own planet, if they did at all. He certainly knows how to direct action sequences that have grit, energy, and beauty as his films Gladiator and Blade Runner Scott next chapter Alien: Covenant answers many of the questions left dangling at the end of the aforementioned movie, but still leaves some questions unanswered -- a great device to hook newbies and fans alike. And certainly raises new questions, some of which parallel our current society. Genetic engineering? Is it a good thing for our food and for life? Corporatization of our politics, Some fan blogs have not taken to some of the plot points that I admire. And some may have missed Scott's bigger themes. Sure, it's still man vs. monster, but it's also man vs. machine, man vs. man, and mankind's insatiable search for universal truths. Read more »

François Ozon on Frantz, Sex and Death, and Hitchcock’s Rebecca

“Awards are like hemorrhoids. Sooner or later every asshole gets one,” François Ozon, one of France's most prolific director/screenwriters, has noted.

With Frantz, his pacifistic, feminist, and slightly homoerotic chronicling of a post-World War I love affair of sorts opening Stateside this week, he can say that with a smile. After all, this feature has already garnered eleven Cécar nominations, including one for best film, and a dozen more from various international film festivals. Read more »

Oscar Time 2017!

The nominations have been set for the 89th Academy Awards airing on February 26th! Who will crush it? Who will slink away awaiting for their chance next time? How many even care? I know that in a world with too much useless digital information and a political climate that seems ready to implode or explode (depending on your political leanings), perhaps we all need the escapism. Read more »

Contemplation on Finding Babel

Brooklyn-based filmmaker David Novack has crafted an intelligent, poetic and engaging documentation of Isaac Babel’s grandson’s search for his grandfather: writer, man, Jew, Russian. This search reveals small and large stories surrounding Babel, and it encompasses Russia, Brooklyn, France, Ukraine, and more. We witness the enduring power of words, the rising power of truth. Read more »

Retake: Restaging Love with a Hustler

One can only hope director Nick Corporon's shorts (I've seen two) and his feature debut, Retake, are not autobiographical. All of his male characters are semi-despondent romantics. They find true love, lose true love, or are confronted by a world ready to quash them if they don't assume heteronormative stances or watch Vin Diesel films . Read more »

They're Here!

Arrival is one of the best science fiction/mystery films to be released about first contact since Jodi Foster's thought-provoking film Contact. Measured against Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece 2001, it's a solid 8.5. In fact, it takes one of the central themes of that film and offers an interesting take on how would our God-fearing mankind interact with EBEs (extraterrestrial biological entities)? In fact, this movie is not so much about the aliens as it is about mankind's own internal dialogues about reacting to such a monumental event. Let's face it folks, mankind to this point in time, has been fueled by our emotional fears in just about all of our political and cultural intolerances since mankind first started recording tribal differences right up to our current religious-fueled international battles. Beyond what will ET look like and behave like, how will we interact with ET? How will we communicate with them? And what will ET think of humans and our small-minded, violent ways? Read more »

Friends Effing Friends Effing Friends: Woody Allen's Godson Tries to Direct a Comedy

Quincy Rose, the godson of Woody Allen and the offspring of the late Mickey Rose (an Allen collaborator on films such as Bananas and a writer for The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson), has just scribed, directed, produced, and edited his second feature film, Friends Effing Friends Effing Friends (FEFEF) so roll out the red carpet and blow the horns. Such an amazing lack of talent has seldom been contained in a mere 117 minutes. Read more »

El Ganzo Boasts "Unique Love Between a Black Gay Man & White Straight Woman"

As noted above, the invite for Steve Balderson's latest feature, El Ganzo, swore that something special was going to occur between a gay man of color and a white female within its running time. Here was an intriguing come-on, one hard to cold-shoulder, so I didn't. Happily, the film is a well-acted, beautifully shot, two-hander about a couple of gentle souls, thrown together by fate, who wind up the better for the confrontation. Read more »

Girl Trouble: When Women Watch Movies

The Intervention's appealing ensemble. (Courtesy Paramount)

It's no secret that women are still mostly used as beards in studio bromances or scenery in tentpole actioners. But even smaller character-driven films can’t always be counted on to provide satisfaction for those of us yearning to recognize some aspect of ourselves on screen. Faced with intimate stories that fail to bring female characters into focus or ambitious tales that mirror but don’t alleviate the special joys of being a girl (worldwide), female audiences are mostly left to get enlightenment or escape by dreaming ourselves into male characters and stories. Read more »

Stephen Frears Hits All the Right Notes with Florence Foster Jenkins

Totally relaxed in his Ritz-Carleton suite on Central Park South, his arms spread wide on a rather tasteful couch, Stephen Frears held court not at all like the monarch in his biggest success, The Queen, (2006). His press conference for his latest effort, Florence Foster Jenkins, will take place one hour later with about 40 journalists in attendance. His stars -- Meryl Streep, Hugh Grant, and The Big Bang Theory’s Simon Helberg -- would then be asked 95% of the questions. Not surprising. Directors, for the most, part do not drive traffic to web sites, sadly, even ones as near legendary as Frears. Read more »

The Childhood of a Leader: From Jean-Paul Sartre to Robert Pattinson

If actor-turned-director Brady Corbet’s post-World-War-I saga, The Childhood of a Leader, did little more than send American readers to Jean-Paul Sartre’s lesser known short story of the same name, one would be thanking the cinematic gods for its appearance. Read more »

Syndicate content