Film Review

Something Must Break: Hedwig Without Music

"It is an awful thing to be betrayed by your body, David Levithan asserts in his novel Every Day." And it's lonely, because you feel you can't talk about it. You feel it's something between you and the body. You feel it's a battle you will never win . . . and yet you fight it day after day, and it wears you down. Even if you try to ignore it, the energy it takes to ignore it will exhaust you." 

A Naked Face in The Crowded City

(Ed. note - CC writer Ian Alterman writes about two of his favorite film classics.)

The Naked City

Two years after making The Naked City, director Jules Dassin would find himself on the Hollywood Blacklist, and move to Europe, never to return to the U.S.  His first film made in Europe, Rififi (1955), would become his most influential, beloved and, arguably, greatest film.  And there are already signs of the naturalist style used in Rififi in The Naked City, though the former is a classic (maybe the classic) heist film, while the latter is a film noir police procedural, complete with narration (which ends the movie with the famous line: “There are eight million stories in the naked city.  This is one of them.”)

The Rocket: Blasting Away a Laotian Curse

Kim Mordaunt's The Rocket is about a child’s at-times comic battle against the insanity of the post-war culture in Laos. In a country riddled with governmental corruption and inefficiency; in one spattered with the remnants of still-live bombs and other remnants of a lengthy, brutalizing bloodshed; and in one populated by impoverished communities often without such basic necessities as electricity and plumbing, the odds seem stacked against ten-year-old Ahlo (Sitthiphon Disamoe) achieving any lasting happiness in this lifetime.

Family Jewels

Saving Mr. Banks (Disney)

How many of you remember Walt Disney and Tinkerbell's opening every Sunday night on his primetime television show? That director John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side) recreates that magical moment is just one of the many small charms in this wonderful movie. Award-winning actors taking on American's greatest children's entertainment advocate seems a delicious proposition. And it is. This is the story of Walt's (Tom Hanks) -- he preferred that everyone refer to each other by their first names on his studio lot -- relentless pursuit (20 years!) of Mrs. P.L. Travers's (Emma Thompson) much-beloved literary classic Mary Poppins.

The Sins of Our Nation - 12 Years A Slave

Some believe that America is still paying a karmic debt for the kidnapping, enslavement, and centuries-long degradation of millions of Africans. Watching UK-director Steve McQueen's brutally honest film 12 Years A Slave leaves no room for doubt that we deserve to. This brave, disturbing movie tells the story of free Saratoga-based black man -- Solomon Northup -- who is kidnapped by circus carnies and sold into slavery in 1841. Scripted by John Ridley, it's based on a memoir written by Mr. Northup in 1851 after he had finally won his freedom. Played with transcendental brilliance by the English actor Chiwetel Ejofor, one feels as if he were channeling the soul of every African ever held in American captivity.

Alan Partridge Lays an Egg

This past Friday at ten in the morning, the lovely folks at NYFF screened the superb Captain Phillips with Tom Hanks, a sensationally acted, edge-of-your-seat thriller in the Argo vein that will have its lead seriously competing for all of the Best Actor nods coming up this season, with its co-star Barkhad Abdi nailing numerous Best Supporting Actor slots.

Sadly, from a high, a low must often follow. Take Declan Lowney's Alan Partridge with Steve Coogan, which screened afterwards. If, on the first day of Christmas, your true love sends you this bird, get a new mate.

The Most Fun I've Ever Had with My Pants On and Mrs. Prindable's Caramels

Many films torture their characters (e.g. the Saw series; I Spit on Your Grave). Drew Denny, a truly beautiful woman who has written, helmed, and stars in this semi-lesbian road trip, has decided instead to scourge the audience with directorial incoherence, an abysmal screenplay, inane antics, and incessantly showing off her ultra-white teeth. At times, you’re not sure if you are watching an exploration of two women’s lives or the world’s longest Crest commercial.