Posted in: Review

20th Century Women

James Stewart once told Peter Bogdanovich that films were “pieces of time.” Neither past, nor future, film is ever-present. In Mike Mills’s new film 20th Century Women, the scenes play like permanent present “pieces of time.” The energy is there in the scenes, which could have easily devolved to sitcom sketches, and the immediacy of the […]

Posted in: Review

Maggie’s Plan

Woody Allen may have retreated to nostalgia but the Woody Allen films of the 1980s (Manhattan, Hannah and Her Sisters, Crimes and Misdemeanors) of self-absorbed intellectual New Yorkers stalking the urban streets talking relationships and Kierkegaard live on in low-budget indie rom-coms (Appropriate Behavior, Listen Up Philip). But it has taken writer-director Rebecca Miller (The […]

Posted in: Review

Where To Invade Next

When the words “Michael Moore” are uttered to right wing Republican zealots, their eyes glaze over and they lapse into paroxysms of rage and retribution, the equivalent of the burlesque shtick of saying “Niagara Falls” or “The Susquehanna Hat Company.” Moore’s tub-thumping (Capitalism: A Love Story, Fahrenheit 911) left-wing stridency drove conservatives to distraction even […]

Posted in: Review

Entertainment

Gregg Turkington’s alter ego, Neil Hamburger – “America’s funnyman” – is a seedy, scowling phantom, sporting a cheap suit and a greasy comb-over, grasping multiple glasses of booze and coughing up phlegm over punch lines to jokes like “Why did God create Domino’s Pizza? To punish humanity for their complacency in letting the Holocaust happen,” […]

Posted in: Review

Taxi

Our country may be creativity bankrupt, corrupt and venal when it comes to filmmaking, and its filmmakers marked as victims and chumps (Keaton, Welles, von Stroheim and other case studies). Those who live within the system either engage in some form of slumming or else live in slums. But no American filmmaker has had to undergo […]

Posted in: Review

The Stanford Prison Experiment

For a college student in the ‘80s and ‘90s who took Psychology 101 classes, one of the key moments of the semester was in studying the groundbreaking psychological experiments in social control and obedience to authority and watching the educational films that supported them. The granddaddy of these films, usually projected through a rickety, worn-out […]

Posted in: Review

The Overnight

In the Woody Allen film Sleeper, a scientist informs Allen that his brain will be electronically simplified and Allen responds, “My brain? That’s my second favorite organ.” In defense of Woody Allen, why shouldn’t the penis take precedence over the brain? After all, it is an organ good at multi-tasking, has the ability to express itself, […]

Posted in: Review

A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence

In Roy Andersson’s A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence, the phrase “I’m happy to hear you are doing fine” becomes the one spark of emotion and the mantra uttered by a succession of characters in a dead world – in Leonard Cohen’s lyric, “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the […]

Posted in: Review

Maggie

A grieving father expresses a wish to the family concerning his terminally ill teenager – “Let’s enjoy the time we have with her.” But this is not Lorenzo’s Oil and the child is not suffering from ADL. In Maggie, somber father Wade Vogel (Arnold Schwarzenegger) must face the terminal status of his daughter Maggie (Abigail Breslin). […]

Posted in: Review

The Gunman

Laurence Olivier (nominated for an Oscar nine times and winning once), played towering roles – Othello, Hamlet, Henry V, Richard III. But in 1965, right after career defining roles in The Entertainer and Spartacus, he took on the role of a police detective in Otto Preminger’s dreary Bunny Lake Is Missing, prompting film critic Alexander […]