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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?