Film Review

The Hauntingly Difficult Montage of Heck

A cherubic blond toddler is shown in Super 8 film: playing on a lawn, sitting on his parents' laps, celebrating birthdays. He's a lovely child and clearly adored. It's easy to imagine his future as, essentially, peaceful and stable, full of strong connections—and very hard to imagine what actually happened: that this babe in arms, Kurt Cobain, grew up to be a tormented artist who would take his own life at age 27.  Read more »

The Aftermath of Tribeca: James Franco on Adderall, Lily Tomlin as a Grandma, Jason Schwartzman with a Huge Penis, and the Wolfpack Are Coming to Your Local Theatre

Of the hundreds of films screened at festivals across the nation only a handful will wind up at your local theaters, and that goes for those lucky enough to have been viewed at the growingly prestigious Tribeca Film Festival (TFF). Read more »

Tomorrowland or George Clooney Pouts for 2 Hours and 10 Minutes

Warning: The plot of Brad (Ratatouille) Bird's Tomorrowland is an incomprehensible muddle. A Wachowski screenplay reimagined by William Burroughs would be easier to follow. I'm only telling you this out of kindness so you won't feel like a complete mental lummox when, as this action offering for pre-teen girls ever so slowly ends after 130 minutes, you realize you don't know what the fuck happened. Read more »

Pitch Perfect 2: Female Trouble

Good news for Comingsoon.net's Joshua Starnes. He can recycle his critique of Pitch Perfect (2012) for its sequel: "Pitch Perfect isn't particularly bad. It isn't particularly anything. And that's what's most disappointing about it."

The low-costing original Pitch took in $113,042,075 worldwide on a production budget of $17 million, which deemed it the second highest grossing comedy/musical since 1984, losing the top spot only to School of Rock (2003). No wonder there is a follow-up. Read more »

The Farewell Party: Fun with Euthanasia

Is the media suddenly realizing that there are people who were born before 1945 who are still very much alive? And that there's a whole bunch of them? According to the 2010 census, if I read Wikipedia correctly, the figure clocks in at 28,282,721. Read more »

From Tribeca: "Aphasia" or the Dangers of Ordering Sushi from Seamless

"The filmmakers respectfully ask the media to not discuss the film's ending" is a sentence included in the press notes for Luke LoCurcio's twelve-minute short "Aphasia." Now since aphasia means the sudden inability to communicate, whether through speech, writing, or even sign language, while not losing one's intelligence, and there's only one main character in the film, unless you can't put 6 and 7.2359 together and come up with 13.2359, you will probably have already guessed the finale. If not, I have no doubt you watched Titanic and was caught off guard that a ship sinks and Leo dies. You probably also pondered why Frozen isn't set in Miami Beach. Read more »

From Tribeca: The Tavianis' Wondrous Boccaccio

Boccaccio's 14th century masterpiece has inspired artists for centuries, from Chaucer to Shakespeare and from Voltaire to Poe. His classic recounts how seven women and three men, who escaped from a plague-ravished Florence to the countryside, entertain themselves over two weeks, each telling ten stories a piece. Read more »

From Tribeca: A 9-Minute "American Renaissance"

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"God save the Queen!" the masses cheered.

A solid narrative short, like a short story, in most cases, should have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Of course, in the proper hands, this rule is meant to be broken. As for a documentary short, information should be supplied, a world revealed, and the viewers' sense of a certain topic should be transformed or heightened. Read more »

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." Read more »

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. Read more »

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? Read more »

Insurgent or There's a Bomb in the Theatre

Insurgent is a relentlessly exasperating sci-fi film made, miraculously, with a half-baked imagination, a slaughtered wit, and insufferable direction by Robert Schwentke, the man who supplied 2013 with one its biggest flops, R.I.P.D. Read more »

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. Read more »

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. Read more »

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. Read more »

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