Posts filtered by tags: Film Review[x]


 

The Joy of Silents: Méliès, Reininger, Gance and Murnau

None Silent film fans are largely an indiscriminate lot. I often hear Americans say "I love foreign movies," but of course, they never mean they love all of them. Lovers of animation or documentaries look for the cream, not every cut-rate cash-in. Even fans of certain genres, like horror or westerns or action films or musicals, rarely believe every last example is worth tracking down. Some they'll watch only to roll their eyes at what a waste of time it is as they waste their time. And yet, w...
Tags: Music, Review, Germany, Paris, Nazi, Silent Film, Joan, Bethlehem, Film Review, Edith, Blu, U S Army, Robinson Crusoe, Jean, Aladdin, Jules Verne


On Burt Lancaster's 'The Midnight Man' and a Hard-knock Life

None Excavated from the Universal vaults and finally released on disc is The Midnight Man (1974), the second and last film directed by its star, Burt Lancaster. His first effort as director-producer-star, The Kentuckian (1955), was a rich, vigorous work of western Americana, violent yet optimistic. This second film, made 20 years later, reflects a wearier outlook of disillusion and regret within the trappings of gumshoe noir. Vietnam and Watergate aren't mentioned; the only reference to contemp...
Tags: Music, Review, Chicago, Mystery, Roman Polanski, Vietnam, Chinatown, James Garner, Film Review, Jim, Lancaster, Linda, Cameron Mitchell, Susan Clark, Slade, Natalie


Visual Feasts: Merchant Ivory Do What They Do Best in 'Feast of July'

None Left in the lurch by the movie-going public in 1995, Feast of July was probably one of the more demure productions to come out of the Merchant Ivory workshop. Based on a minor work by H.E. Bates, who wrote mostly charming and very British novels about the English working life, the film was further sidelined by its rather unenthusiastic critical reception. Time, however, has been kind to the film and it isn't really the forgettable fluff that the likes of Roger Ebert claimed it to be. Lift...
Tags: Music, Crime, Review, Drama, America, Roger Ebert, Period Drama, Mystery, Spielberg, Hugh Grant, Film Review, Bella, Chaplin, Ben Chaplin, Ebert, Blu Ray


So Dark, So Lovely: Joseph H. Lewis's Early Noirs

None Joseph H. Lewis had been toiling for years in Hollywood and directed several films at several studios before his stint in B pictures at Columbia led to a breakthrough in critical awareness. Now on Blu-ray from Arrow are his first two films for that studio. Fortunately for him, they're examples of a genre attracting particular critical salivation today: the noir film, even though its earliest purveyors had no idea they were inventing such a thing until French critics of the 1950s told them ...
Tags: Music, England, Hollywood, Crime, Review, Drama, New York Times, Paris, Collins, Alice, Columbia, Noir, Film Review, Lewis, Digest, Julia


Mads Mikkelsen's Inimitable Talent for Silent Acting Compels the Survival Story in 'Arctic'

None If there's an actor working today who's able to command the immediate emotional presence of silent cinema, it's probably the striking Dane, Mads Mikkelsen. With his beautiful facial bone structure and the rigid composure of a dancer or gymnast (he was, in fact, both before his acting career took off), Mikkelsen has made an impressively versatile and long-lasting career out of saying very little. Although American audiences likely know him mostly from the grim and gorgeous NBC TV series, Ha...
Tags: Music, Review, Drama, Youtube, Arctic, Brazil, Iceland, Film Review, Brice Ezell, Valhalla, Kenneth Turan, Mikkelsen, NBC TV, Penna, Mads Mikkelsen, Joe Penna


Jackie Chan's High-Kicking '80s Cop Movies Are Back!

None Sporting the same shaggy mop of hair and the slightly bemused look of a sleepy John Cusack, Jackie Chan rolls into 1985's Police Story like some kid fresh out of the Peking Opera School and not a pro who had already been working in the Hong Kong film industry for over 20 years. It's part of the reason why attempts in the previous decade to turn him into the new Bruce Lee never quite worked. Lee had an otherworldly, feline fierceness that he couldn't hide if he tried; whereas Chan projected...
Tags: Hong Kong, Music, Comedy, Crime, Review, Martial Arts, America, Action, Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee, Criterion Collection, Film Review, Lee, CHAN, Buster Keaton, Janus Films


M. Night Shyamalan's 'Glass' Doesn't Recognize Its Own Strength

None M. Night Shyamalan holds a unique place within the critical discourse of the film industry. These days, he's met with constant skepticism if not outright derision; after disasters like The Happening (2008), The Last Airbender (2010) and After Earth (2013), the mega-stardom that followed his early works dissolved almost entirely. Instead, he was left only with the kind of begrudging respect offered to cult directors, with the bar for reentry into the class of the respected set tremendously ...
Tags: Music, Drama, Film, Sci-fi, Glass, David, Thriller, Philadelphia, James McAvoy, Superheroes, Jackson, M. Night Shyamalan, Sarah Paulson, Samuel L. Jackson, Universal Pictures, Bruce Willis


David Byrne Channels the Weird and the Ordinary in 'True Stories'

None As the frontman for , David Byrne certainly earned a reputation as a critic of culture. Songs like "Once in a Lifetime" and "Burning Down the House" ask existential questions that poke at the dull monotony of the everyday. On the surface, Byrne's only feature-length film, True Stories (1986), seems to follow suit. The characters are based on people featured in tabloid news stories that Byrne collected, later deciding to construct a narrative around their idiosyncrasies. The overlapping...
Tags: Music, Comedy, Texas, Review, US, America, David, House, John Goodman, Cambodia, Cia, Bill, Talking Heads, Musical, Criterion Collection, Polaroid


Criterion Film Offerings: French Noir, Japanese Lovers, American Gangsters and Frames of Pure Serenity

The Criterion Collection, the busiest and most prestigious of companies devoted to classic films, provides a rare delight in this collection of films now available on Blu-ray. These are movies that have never before been on DVD or Blu-ray (at least not in Region 1), and in some cases weren't even on VHS. These tantalizing titles, long heard of but vexingly unavailable until now, are a particular pleasure to for film lovers to enjoy, at last. Panique (dir. Julien Duvivier, 1946) The aloof and mi...
Tags: Music, Japan, Hollywood, Review, France, Walter Matthau, West, Akira Kurosawa, Eiffel Tower, Brian Eno, Alfred Hitchcock, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Alice, Van Gogh, Picasso, Film Review


Playing at Grown-ups: Don Siegel and Michael Caine Tilt at 'The Black Windmill'

None Fans of director Don Siegel and actor Michael Caine will make haste to sink their teeth into The Black Windmill (1974), which has been pretty much missing in action since a full-screen VHS back in the 1980s. Now Kino Lorber unveils a widescreen Blu-ray of this long-sought thriller from Siegel's great late era, when he signed his output with the onscreen phrase "A Siegel Film", the first words we see on this print; it's also the title of his autobiography (Faber & Faber, 1996). The opening...
Tags: Music, England, Crime, Review, Action, Thriller, James Bond, Michael Caine, John Le Carre, Alfred Hitchcock, Sean Connery, Film Review, Don, Caine, Don Siegel, Ceil


Pawel Pawlikowski's 'Cold War' Is a Lustrous, Slyly Subversive Melodrama

None There's a true love guiding Cold War, Pawel Pawlikowski's first film since 2015's Oscar-winning Ida. The truth isn't in the depth of the emotion, though, but in its blemished sincerity; it's a story about two lovers who stay involved, but not necessarily together, for 15 years, and who never truly convince each other (or us, as viewers) that love itself is enough. The film, set in 1950s Europe, is extravagant but unsentimental, and never strays far from the stark realities of wartime. Tha...
Tags: Europe, Music, Hollywood, Romance, Review, Drama, Film, Cold War, Paris, Alfonso Cuarón, Oscar, Poland, Casablanca, Pawel Pawlikowski, IRENA, Colette


Slavery, Piracy, and Shirtless Men in Silent Film, 'Old Ironsides'

None Now on DVD and Blu-ray from Kino Lorber is a classic silent epic that hasn't seen the light of home video since a Paramount VHS back in the '80s. Old Ironsides (1926) provides a colorful, patriotic, sometimes hoked-up and inaccurate account of an important and largely overlooked incident in American naval history, the First Barbary War of 1804-05, also called the Tripolitan War. This event served as America's first "foreign adventure" and the first time an American flag was hoisted in mili...
Tags: Music, Hollywood, Cook, Review, Drama, Congress, America, History, David, Silent Film, Library Of Congress, Mediterranean, North Africa, Film Review, Thomas Jefferson, Henry King


John Lennon and Yoko Ono: Imagine / Gimme Some Truth

None From the time they met through at least the mid 1970s, John Lennon and Yoko Ono fancied themselves avant-garde artists, creators, influencers, and public icons. They certainly had a case, and part of the evidence for that is Imagine, the "video album" the pair made to accompany John's Imagine LP and Yoko's Fly LP, both released in 1971. The film came out the following year and is being included on this revamped video edition along with Gimme Some Truth, Andrew Solt's 2000 television docume...
Tags: Music, New York, Review, John Lennon, Rock, Pop, Yoko Ono, Paul Mccartney, Miles Davis, John, Music Review, Lennon, Phil Spector, Film Review, Don, Harrison


Nicole Kidman Wreaks Havoc in Karyn Kusama’s Disorienting 'Destroyer'

None It's hard to imagine a less family-friendly Christmas day film than Karyn Kusama's gruff, impassioned Destroyer, which stars Nicole Kidman as an alcoholic cop. Luckily, that much could be gleaned from promotional footage and photos, which feature a largely unrecognizable Kidman in a grey mop-like haircut and wrinkly, dry-as-dirt face makeup. That and the title should have been enough to steer those searching for purity away; this is less a tale of love than of vicious, animalistic vengeanc...
Tags: Music, Hbo, Crime, Review, Drama, Los Angeles, Action, Nicole Kidman, Tatiana Maslany, Bell, Chris, Film Review, Jennifer, Kidman, Silas, Kusama


'Vice', Dick Cheney, and the Satisfaction of the Deed Itself

None The crucial moment in Vice, Adam McKay's furiously funny mock biopic about the rise of Dick Cheney, doesn't come when, as Vice President just after 9/11, he makes a naked power grab and shifts the country onto a war footing. It's not when he calls his wife Lynne from a cubicle in the Gerald Ford White House and says, "We did it." It happens back in Wyoming in the early '60s. Cheney is going nowhere fast after drinking after another drunk night that saw him tossed in the slammer, Dick—a he...
Tags: Music, Politics, Comedy, Review, Drama, White House, Iraq, Wyoming, Biography, Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Satire, Shakespeare, Amy Adams, Will Ferrell, Vice


Evil Is Art, Murder Is Art, Torture Is Art: On Lars von Trier's 'The House that Jack Built'

None Lars von Trier's latest film has been gestating publicly for quite a while. After the mixed reception of his two-volume 2013 sex epic Nymphomaniac (not to mention the fury caused by his famous remarks expressing joking sympathy with Hitler at Cannes in 2011), his name had perhaps surpassed recognition as a critically beloved auteur and morphed into a simplified symbol of provocation and controversy. Von Trier's films, spanning four decades, have always been groundbreaking both in form and...
Tags: Music, Crime, Drama, Horror, House, Uma Thurman, Lars von Trier, Hitler, Jack, Cannes, Stellan Skarsgard, Ifc Films, Film Review, Emily Watson, Virgil, Mandy


'If Beale Street Could Talk' Is an Intimate Rendering of Black Love in the Face of Hatred

None The heart of If Beale Street Could Talk, Barry Jenkins' much-anticipated follow up to the Oscar-winning Moonlight, is apparent from its opening scene. Tish Rivers (KiKi Layne) and Fonny Hunt (Stephan James), a young black couple in love, hold hands as they stroll across a secluded New York City waterfront. Their colors of their clothes and skin — warm, sensuous yellows, oranges and browns — mimic the tender intensity of their blossoming love. The music swells and the camera focuses straigh...
Tags: Music, New York, Crime, Romance, Review, Drama, New York City, America, Racism, Adaptation, Harlem, Puerto Rico, Film Review, Nicholas Britell, Henry, If Beale Street Could Talk


Barry Jenkins' 'If Beal Street Could Talk' Is Unapologetically Romantic

None If Beale Street Could Talk, Barry Jenkins' eagerly anticipated follow-up to 2016's Oscar darling Moonlight, is a beautiful rumination on love and community set against a backdrop of institutionalized racism. Each character is delicately imbued with dignity and intelligence, as Jenkins chisels this world out of lingering close-ups and Nicholas Britell's magnificent score. Though it sputters with repetitive story beats towards its finalé, there's no denying the passion and urgency of Jenkins...
Tags: Music, Crime, Romance, Review, Drama, America, Racism, Adaptation, Harlem, Film Review, Nicholas Britell, If Beale Street Could Talk, James Baldwin, Baldwin, Jenkins, Tish


'Mary Poppins Returns' Is Practically Passable, in Every Way

None There wasn't much about Robert Stevenson's 1964 musical, Mary Poppins, that should have worked. The story made a hash of P.L. Travers' original stories about the stern nanny with a knack for magic. It jammed in a suffragette subplot that was so mistreated it almost seemed to mock the entire cause. One song led to the next without much of a plot. Yet, like so many other cultural properties that Walt Disney cut and warped into a wholly unrecognizable shape, it all came together in a densely ...
Tags: Family, Music, Comedy, London, Review, Fantasy, Disney, Chicago, Meryl Streep, Rob Marshall, Angela Lansbury, Ben Whishaw, Miranda, Emily Blunt, Walt Disney, Michael


'Roma' Is Painfully Beautiful

None You could argue that Alfonso Cuarón's gorgeously imagined and intimate epic Roma invokes politics when convenient for dramatic impact but ignores their context in order to move forward with the family melodrama at its core. Why, for instance, does nobody talk about why the students are protesting in the massive street demonstration that some of the characters are shocked to be caught up in? But to follow this argument would entail making the assumption that all people are fully cognizant o...
Tags: Music, Review, Drama, Mexico, Netflix, Mexico City, Alfonso Cuarón, Roma, Film Review, Sofia, Cleo, Bergman, Tonio, Adela, Cuaron, Fermin


Mary Pickford: Hollywood's Most Powerful Waif

None As has been stated often and as we can't be reminded often enough, Mary Pickford was the most powerful woman in Hollywood during the silent era. Since establishing herself as a star in the 1910s -- really a superstar by today's standards -- she'd taken control of her career and produced her own vehicles. This became officially known when she co-founded United Artists, the era's most important independent production company. Now restored and tinted on 4K Blu-ray/DVD combos are two of her cl...
Tags: Music, New York, Hollywood, Review, Drama, Wikipedia, America, Annie, Silent Film, Paramount, MGM, Alley, Film Review, Mary, Kelly, Fred


'Mortal Engines' Grinds Down the Post-apocalyptic Genre

None How could such a marvelous premise go so horribly wrong? That's the question you'll be asking while watching dystopian steam-punk film, Mortal Engines. Luckily, you will soon pass into a peaceful slumber and dream about something more interesting, like tax law or dripping water faucets. Visual effects guru Christian Rivers tries his luck at directing and, unfortunately, all of his luck is bad. This dystopian future where massive, mobile cities consume smaller cities for resources is a c...
Tags: Post, Music, Hollywood, London, Review, Adventure, Fantasy, America, Earth, Action, West, Young Adult, Shakespeare, Ya, Peter Jackson, Middle Earth


Silent Film 'You Never Know Women' Makes the Most of Light and Shadow

None Before he earned his Wings, by which we mean the 1927 film that won a Best Picture Oscar at the very first Academy Awards ceremony, director William Wellman had to prove he could handle ambitious, sophisticated entertainment. That test was the critical and popular success, You Never Know Women (1926), now on DVD and Blu-ray from Kino Lorber. On a commentary track, William Wellman, Jr. explains his father's career at that point. He'd made several low-budget westerns and comedies, and produ...
Tags: Europe, Music, Hollywood, Texas, Review, Drama, Wikipedia, America, DuPont, Silent Film, Paramount, Continental, Film Review, Blu, Ivan, Wellman


'Vox Lux' Is an Oblique Meditation on Innocence, Celebrity and Trauma

None Natalie Portman doesn't show up in Vox Lux, Brady Corbet's new film, until halfway through, yet it's her meatiest role since the brilliant Annihilation earlier this year. She's an increasingly versatile actress, known for fraught, melodramatic performances in films like Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan and Pablo Larrain's Jackie — and in Luc Besson's 1994 Léon, the Professional when she was just a child — and so the maximalism here, culminating in a frenzied pop music performance, isn't as st...
Tags: Music, Hbo, New York, Hollywood, Review, Drama, Bradley Cooper, Croatia, Sia, Luc Besson, Lady Gaga, Staten Island, Darren Aronofsky, Jude Law, Natalie Portman, Jackie


'Happy as Lazzaro' Is a Subtly Affecting Epic Fable

None In the fictional Italian village of Inviolata, a young man named Lazzaro (first-time actor Adriano Tardiolo) bears the brunt of his townspeople's indomitable persecution. At first such unfair treatment isn't obvious; what we see is a poor rural community, normal in their pursuit of tradition (the film opens on a marriage proposal) but dogged by a life of hard work and few, if any, benefit. It turns out that they're sharecroppers enslaved by the village's Marchesa, known colloquially as...
Tags: Music, Review, US, Film Review, Lazzaro, Tancredi, Antonia, Marchesa, Marquesa, Alice Rohrwacher, Lazzaro Felice, Rohrwacher, Adriano Tardiolo, Palace Films, Social realism, Magic realism


Silent Film Sleuths Unearth Crusty Gems with 'Found at Mostly Lost, Vol. 2'

None Sponsored by the Library of Congress, Mostly Lost is an annual film workshop in which unidentified or mis-titled silent films are screened to an audience of scholars and fans who try to figure out what they are. Sometimes they succeed. PopMatters reviewed Volume One of these rarities, and now comes a second made-on-demand DVD: Found at Mostly Lost, Vol. 2, containing ten newly identified films from the festivals of 2015 to 2017. While all have historical or social interest, at least half ...
Tags: Music, New York, Review, Congress, America, Silent Film, Library Of Congress, John Ford, Thomas Edison, Film Review, Mack, Jim, Barnes, Edison, Ebert, Susie So


Lee Chang-dong's Mysterious 'Burning' Simmers with an Inquisitive Tension

None Most films, whether or not they claim an outsized ambition, don't deserve a runtime longer than 120 minutes simply because too much action easily leads to a case of diminishing returns. Lee Chang-dong's Burning (Beoning) is the rare film that warrants such excess; its languorous passivity takes time to fester, all up to a point of inevitable climax when, seemingly out of pure necessity, a final action is taken that brings all parties the long-overdue gift of change. There's something sli...
Tags: South Korea, Music, Review, Drama, Africa, Burning, Mystery, Haruki Murakami, Seoul, Film Review, Ben, Jong, Paju, Murakami, Jay Gatsby, Steven Yeun


Queen Anne Costume Drama 'The Favourite' Dazzles with Humor, Tragedy, Weirdness

None A costume drama for people who hate costume dramas, The Favourite is often hilarious, always dark, and infinitely weird. Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos chooses the haughty setting of Queen Anne's 18th century royal estate for his lesbian love triangle. The technical mastery of Barry Lyndon meets the emotional gamesmanship of All About Eve as we luxuriate in all manner of absurdist debauchery. The Favourite provides deliciously wicked fun that boasts some of the best performances and sump...
Tags: Music, England, Comedy, Review, Drama, France, America, Emma Stone, Stanley Kubrick, Olivia Colman, Fox Searchlight, Rachel Weisz, Mark Gatiss, Sarah, Historical drama, Film Review


Jean-Pierre Melville’s 'Le Samouraï' Plays with the Perils of the Loner

I recently spoke to a class full of students about Plato's "Allegory of the Cave". Actually, I mentioned Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" by prefacing that I understood the likelihood that no one had read it. Fortunately, two students had, which brought mild temporary relief. In an effort to close the gap of understanding (perhaps more a canyon or uncanny valley) I made the popular quick comparison between Plato's often cited work and the Wachowski siblings' cinema spectacl...
Tags: Music, Crime, Drama, Cinema, Paris, Mystery, Film History, Criterion Collection, Imdb, David Fincher, Film Review, Jules, Lawrence, Jeff, Plato, Melville


Jean-Pierre Melville’s 'Le Samouraï' Plays with the Perils of the Lone Detective

I recently spoke to a class full of students about Plato's "Allegory of the Cave". Actually, I mentioned Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" by prefacing that I understood the likelihood that no one had read it. Fortunately, two students had, which brought mild temporary relief. In an effort to close the gap of understanding (perhaps more a canyon or uncanny valley) I made the popular quick comparison between Plato's often cited work and the Wachowski siblings' cinema spectacl...
Tags: Music, Crime, Drama, Cinema, Paris, Mystery, Film History, Criterion Collection, Imdb, David Fincher, Film Review, Jules, Lawrence, Jeff, Plato, Melville



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