Film Review

The Anti-Disney, Bill Plympton, on Cheatin’, Hitler, and Fellini

Bill Plympton is not a genius, or so he insists, although none of his thousands of fans would be shocked if a MacArthur "Genius Grant" came his way. This former contributor to Playboy, The New York Times, and MTV has been a cult cartoonist and animator now for over a quarter of century, garnering an Oscar nomination in 1987 for his short "Your Face."

The Third Man - A Haunting Noir

What is it that makes an artwork important? Relevance over time is one answer. This past summer in New York City, both the Museum of Modern Art and Film Forum ran a month-long series of Film Noir screenings. And this December of 2014, the Brooklyn Academy of Music ran a "Sunshine Noir" series of Film Noir shot in Los Angeles. Three revivals in one year speak to the continued pertinence of this genre: Film Noir is timeless. On the surface, Noir is stylized and sexy, but its hidden undercurrent illuminates something about our deeper vulnerabilities.

The Riot Club: When Being Posh Is Not Enough

Those of us who lead hapless lives know how frightening getting up in the morning can be. Instead of rising and embracing the daylight with an ardent cuddle and a zealous "Yahoo!" we see grey clouds overhead and wonder aloud, "What now?" Another egg carton with broken shells? A second bedbug infestation within twelve months? Still no replies to our Christian Mingles ad even though we've noted we can recite the Book of Revelation by heart in Latin?

Tracers: Taylor Lautner Runs, Bikes, and Jumps

I'm one of those "glass half-full "critics when it comes to Taylor Lautner. Film after film I hope he'll pull a Sally Field, who went from The Flying Nun and Gidget to Sybil and Norma Rae. Would Abduction or Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 reveal the young man's inner Laurence Olivier? No, sadly. The lumbering hunk remains just a lumbering hunk in those two. Prize-winning pecs and abs plus a cute smile were what the glamor boy's fans had to settle for.

Eastern Boys: Hustling for Love

At the finale of Robin Campillo's masterful Eastern Boys, bourgeois, middle-aged Frenchman Daniel (Oliver Rabourdin) has overhauled his relationship with the Ukrainian hustler Marek (Kirill Emelyanov) into something totally unexpected. The journey to that climax is a rollercoaster of flirtation, betrayal, larceny, lust, love, dauntless deeds, comeuppance, and finally a benevolent acceptance of the pair's interconnectedness in a manner that neither of these devoted halves could foretell.

Silenced

 

John Kiriakou is not well known to every American, but he should be. I regret that I had only a vague idea of who he was until I saw James Spione's extraordinary documentary Silenced, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in April 2014 -- at which point Kiriakou was in jail. He was released last month, having served almost two years in a Federal prison. After seeing the film, I'll never forget him or his story.

The Last Five Years' Richard Lagravanese Films a Musical for Purists

"It's important to think. It's what separates us from lentils." --Richard Lagravanese, The Fisher King

He did it the hard way, like David battling Goliath this past Valentine's Day. Yes, Richard Lagravanese's latest effort, The Last Five Years, a romantic musical of sorts with next to no spoken dialogue, opened against the whip-wielding Fifty Shades of Grey, a syrupy soft core melodrama with perhaps too much dialogue.