Film Review

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.