August 2018 archive

Venice Film Festival 2018: A Star is Born, The Other Side of the Wind

As the end credits of Bradley Cooper’s “A Star is Born” were unspooling at this morning’s screening at the Venice Film Festival, a German gentleman who was sitting with some friends near me stood up, and said in a rathe loud voice, “I don’t know if I’m allowed to say this in the ‘Me Too’ …

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The Little Stranger

With his profound, Oscar-winning 2015 drama “Room,” Lenny Abrahamson illustrated the horrors of domestic claustrophobia through an unflashy yet unwavering handle on restrictive spaces. With “The Little Stranger,” his elegant, cold-to-the-touch blend of drama and gothic horror, the filmmaker proves his specific artistry around confinement was no coincidence. In this slow-burn psychodrama of visceral majesty—craftily adapted …

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Destination Wedding

A lot of people are not going to like “Destination Wedding,” because the characters never shut up and complain all the time. But I thought it was a hoot. Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves, in their fourth film together, are clearly having a blast, and they won me over. Lindsay (Ryder) and Frank (Reeves) meet …

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Let the Corpses Tan

“Let the Corpses Tan” is, like the two previous features written and directed by Belgian filmmakers Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani, an arty tribute to violent, sensuous, over-the-top Euro-trash pulp fiction. And when I say “arty”—an admittedly loaded term, like “pretentious” and “low-brow”—I mean that Cattet and Forzani explicitly consider and present sex and gore as hyper-fetishized objects of desire for grubby, voyeuristic antiheroes. In these movies …

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Reprisal

“Reprisal” is a blandly gritty piece of late-August mayhem that’s as forgettable as its generic title. Frank Grillo gets top billing in the opening credits over co-star Bruce Willis (who’s barely in the film, to be fair, and even when he’s there he isn’t really there) as Jacob, the manager of a Cincinnati bank that’s …

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Pick of the Litter

Dogs are amazing. And when the subject of your documentary is a litter of five adorable puppies, you don’t really have to try that hard for an aww-inducing outcome. Yet with their fourth joint project “Pick of the Litter,” “Batkid Begins” co-directors Dana Nachman and Don Hardy Jr. make an honest effort to multiply the …

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Boarding School

Boaz Yakin’s coming-of-age horror movie “Boarding School” stars Luke Prael, who viewers of “Eighth Grade” might recognize as Aiden, the simple object of young Elsie’s affection. Here, he plays Jacob, a Brooklyn-born boy in the ’90s who is sent to a boarding school because his mother is tired of him having screaming night terrors, and after his …

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An Actor Prepares

Comedy is a mystifying art because there is no particular formula that guarantees its success. Ideas that worked brilliantly before can fail spectacularly when attempted again. If the chemistry is off or the writing is subpar, it doesn’t matter how hard a performer attempts to salvage a gag. When I recently spoke to Austin Pendleton, …

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Big Brother

I confess: the cornball Hong Kong schoolroom melodrama “Big Brother” is everything I wanted it to be. Granted, I watched this film with carefully modulated expectations. After all, this is a corny, civic-minded “Stand and Deliver” clone that stars martial artist Donnie Yen as Mr. Chen, a generically tough-but-fair teacher who gives hope to a classroom full of would-be high school drop-outs.  …

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Active Measures

“The enemy is dead,” proclaimed Russian politician Oleg Morozov upon learning the news of Senator John McCain’s death last Saturday. The war hero-turned-presidential candidate had always been fearless in his vocal mistrust of Vladimir Putin, and there’s a priceless scene in Jack Bryan’s new documentary, “Active Measures,” where McCain is seen smirking through a speech …

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The Purge Empire Expands to Cable TV with Mediocre Series

Who would have guessed that 2013’s “The Purge” would start one of the most robust franchises in entertainment, spawning three profitable sequels—“The Purge: Anarchy,” “The Purge: Election Year,” and “The First Purge”—and now a TV series on the USA Network written by the man who created the first film, James DeMonaco, and produced by Jason …

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Home Entertainment Consumer Guide: August 30, 2018

5 NEW TO NETFLIX “The Good Place: Season Two””Hostiles””Peter Rabbit””Something New””Wish I Was Here” 7 NEW TO BLU-RAY/DVD “Deadpool 2” I wasn’t a particularly huge fan of the first “Deadpool” film, thinking that it tried just a little too hard to be edgy and different while really just being a pretty generic origin story. Believe …

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Venice Film Festival 2018: The Mountain, Roma

That Feeling When … you arrange your travel to get you to the 75th Anniversary edition of the fabled Venice Film Festival in time for opening night, but you miss the gala first film anyway. That title was Damien Chazelle’s “First Man,” about Neil Armstrong and his whole first-man-on-the-moon bit, and the press screenings were on …

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An American Hero Returns in Thrilling New Series, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan

Those who tune into Amazon’s new series “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan” are in for a big surprise, in more ways than one. First, its vision of international espionage proves that thrilling action storytelling doesn’t require gun lust, motorcycle chases, or brashness with death to hold a tight grip. Even more, the series is packaged like the …

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Kin

The promotional materials for “Kin” hail it as being from the producers of “Arrival” and “Stranger Things,” and while that may be true, it’s highly unlikely most viewers will come away comparing it to those previous efforts. Moviegoers with longer memories, however, may find themselves contemplating the similarities between this film and “Laserblast,” a super-cheesy …

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Comic-Con 2018: Bill Morrison Tells Us of His Yellow Submarine Graphic Novel

The Beatles animated film “Yellow Submarine” turned 50 this past July. But for those who were born too late to truly appreciate the Summer of Love and the Beatles psychedelic phase, you can still celebrate: this week, Bill Morrison’s graphic novel of the movie comes out (Titan Comics) complete with a new poster. You can also watch a cleaned-up …

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Why The Godfather, Part II is the Best of the Trilogy

What exactly makes “The Godfather, Part II” better than its predecessor? “The Godfather, Part II” was the first film of the Godfather saga that I saw. This was perhaps a couple of years after it was first released. Knowing then very little about its predecessor and considering that the follow-up constantly jumps between time periods, …

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Operation Finale

Sure, Oscar Isaac is a great actor, but is he Good For The Jews?  The Guatemala-born performer is in this film asked to play a hero not just to Israel and the Jewish people but to civilization itself: Peter Malkin, the Mossad agent who apprehended the Nazi war criminal Adolph Eichmann in 1961, in Argentina, …

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A Muslim Helps Fix the Terrorists in Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan

I was enjoying my biscuit one evening at a Red Lobster when I received an email from Paramount Television. The producers of “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan” wanted me to help make their show more sensitive and accurate in its depiction of Muslims.  With my own research on many of the consultants in Hollywood addressing depictions of …

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Thumbnails 8/28/18

Thumbnails is a roundup of brief excerpts to introduce you to articles from other websites that we found interesting and exciting. We provide links to the original sources for you to read in their entirety.—Chaz Ebert 1.  “Miranda Harcourt on ‘The Changeover’ and Whānau Values in New Zealand”: At Indie Outlook, I interview the acclaimed …

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