Masterful in its silences, a little less so in its chatter, writer/director Noah Buschel's Sparrows Dance begins almost as a tribute to Chantal Akerman’s masterpiece, Jeanne Dielman, 23 Qual du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, the difference mainly being a dissimilar choice of heroines. Instead of a bored housewife turned prostitute, we have a former actress turned agoraphobic who hasn't left her apartment in over year.
If I could rename Afternoon Delight, I would call it Depressed Housewife Rescues a Prostitute. I expected Jill Soloway’s new indie flick about a family who adopts a “sex worker” to be a bit cheekier, perhaps a twist on the old Pretty Woman Cinderella story. Alas, this prostitute is not the heroine of the story, or even the main focus. The film instead explores angsty housewife Rachel (Kathryn Hahn) in the suburbs of Los Angeles as she deals with extreme boredom, mostly with her husband Jeff (Josh Radnor). I would be bored too if my husband were an uncomfortable plank of a man whose greatest line is -- “Not everyone gets to be happy” -- delivered with arms in the air, as if he were physically grasping for emotion.
It's that time of year again -- or what used to be that time of year. NewFest is here (September 6-11). Yes, the celebration of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and what-have-you cinema is back for its 25th anniversary. The main venue will be the Film Society of Lincoln Center's Walter Reade Theater, considered by some to be the best cinema in Manhattan, one that boasts a truly superior sound system.
The Belgian-born Georges Simenon (1903-1989) wrote over 200 novels (by Wikipedia's count) plus many shorter works. The New York Times estimates that number (including his memoirs and nonfiction works) as being between 400 and 500. Simenon's creation, Inspector Jules Maigret, who appeared in about 75 works, "ranks only after Sherlock Holmes as the world's best known fictional detective." (I'm not sure how Poirot feels about that.) Of course, such popularity could not be overlooked by the entertainment industry, and imdb.com has compiled a list of 132 movies and TV shows based on his oeuvre. And now the Anthology Archives, with Kathy Geritz and the Pacific Film Archive, is presenting 14 of these celluloid joys within the series appropriately entitled Cine-Simenon: George Simenon on Film, which runs until August 21st.
Lee Daniels tries very hard to become the next Steven Spielberg with The Butler, a 132-minute heartfelt, epic paean to the Civil Rights struggles of black Americans in the 20th century. The result is a film that is indeed convincingly earnest, yet intermittently clumsy in its attempt to shoehorn too much history into a family tale of survival, dysfunction, alcoholism, adultery, rebellion, and disco dancing -- or vice versa.
The female raunch comedy has now really come into its own with The To Do List (formerly The Hand Job), and at times shockingly so. But maybe not if you consider biting into feces nothing to sneeze at. Directed and written by Maggie Carey, the spouse of Bill Hader, this is the tale of a 1993 high-school valedictorian, Brandy Clark (Aubrey Plaza), who's apparently the last virgin in Boise, Idaho.
Childhood can be tough, but how tough you can't imagine until you've witnessed Rufus Norris's Broken, a film of innocence getting roundly trounced. Based upon Daniel Clay's highly readable tome, which was itself inspired by Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, the action takes place in a cul-de-sac in Southampton, where three damaged families reside. The "dead-end" metaphor is not to be taken lightly.
It's a Monday night with occasional downpours, but the steamy weather and the chance to view Andy Warhol's rarely screened tribute to the underground legend, poet, and actor Taylor Meade's posterior has the crowd, composed mainly of artsy gayboys, both young and old, lining up en masse in the lobby of the Museum of Modern Art.
A murmur of true excitement, amidst the chatter about organic art exhibits and mild flirtations, greets the ear as the flip-floppers are ushered into the Sculpture Garden. Instantly, stylized composure is disposed of as there's a mad rush for seats with an unobstructed view. Those who lose out on the "Musical Chairs Grab" wind up sitting on steps, which actually proffer a better sight line.
When the Spirit Horse relieves his bowels midway through The Lone Ranger, and the screen is filled with his ever-piling-up turds, it will take you a while to realize that this shit is different from the rest of the excrement that director Gore Verbinski has been showcasing the previous hour.
[Spoiler Alert!! If you have not seen the pilot episode, this review contains numerous spoilers.]
Stephen King's teleplays for his many mini-series (usually three to six episodes) have ranged from superb ("Storm of the Century," "The Shining") to good ("It," "The Stand") to silly but fun ("The Langoliers"). However, his work has never been turned into a full-season TV series until now. And if he and the other writers can sustain the level of intrigue and character development of the pilot episode, they may have a hit on their hands.