Author's posts

Stuart Gordon: 1947-2020

Most of the obituaries for Stuart Gordon, who passed away yesterday at the age of 72 from multiple organ failure, will no doubt describe him as a “Master of Horror” and not just because of his contributions to the television anthology series of the same name. He pretty much owned that particular designation from the …

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Book Review: Are Snakes Necessary? by Brian De Palma and Susan Lehman

The front cover of Are Snakes Necessary? (Hard Case Crime, $22.99), the first novel from legendary filmmaker Brian De Palma (co-written with former New York Times editor Susan Lehman), features a quote from no less than Martin Scorsese that reads, “It’s like having a new Brian De Palma film.” While most blurbs of this sort …

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A Preview of the 2020 Rendez-Vous With French Cinema

Now in its 25th edition, “Rendez-Vous with French Cinema” returns to New York’s Walter Reade Theater from March 5-15 to serve as a gathering place for cineastes with a preference for films with a Gallic bent. Over the course of those 11 days, the Film Society of Lincoln Center, in conjunction with UniFrance, will be presenting …

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Fantasy Island

While cinematic thoughts regarding Valentine’s Day naturally drift towards straightforward love stories and romantic comedies, the holiday has long proven to be a fertile period for releasing horror movies as well. When the 1931 version of “Dracula” came out, for example, it debuted on Valentine’s Day and was initially promoted as a bizarre romance. Decades …

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Kirk Douglas: 1916-2020

As a result of having caught the movie bug at a very early age, I must confess that in many cases, I cannot specifically remember when I first encountered many of the greats of the silver screen for the first time—I have adored the Marx Brothers for as long as I can recall but I …

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Gretel & Hansel

During this past month, the horror genre has taken it especially hard on the chin with the release of such instantly and intensely forgettable duds as “The Grudge,” “Underwater” and “The Turning,” a trio of films that collectively failed to inspire the same amount of raw terror found in the trailer for that “Peter Rabbit” …

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Color Out of Space

According to IMDb, the seemingly inexhaustible Nicolas Cage has no fewer than six additional movies in various stages of production that are currently scheduled for release in 2020, ranging from high-profile studio outings to the kind of demented head-scratchers that he somehow manages to sniff out in the manner of a pig finding truffles. And …

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Terry Jones: 1942-2020

There will not be a single obituary of Terry Jones, who passed away at his home in North London at the age of 77 after a long battle with dementia that had robbed him of his ability to speak, that does not begin by mentioning his work with the legendary comedy troupe Monty Python. This …

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Anna Karina: 1940-2019

Made in 1962, “Vivre sa vie” (a.k.a. “My Life to Live”), the fourth feature film from Jean-Luc Godard, tells the story of Nana, a beautiful young French woman who impulsively decides to leave her husband and infant son in order to pursue her dreams of becoming an actress. Over the course of the twelve distinct …

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Danny Aiello: 1933-2019

Upon hearing of the death of beloved character actor Danny Aiello, at the age of 86 after a brief illness, I went online to look at his filmography. I was a little surprised to discover that he didn’t make his first movie until he was 40, an age when most aspiring actors who haven’t yet broken through …

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The Good Liar

When I sit down to write a review, I generally try to not give away any plot details that might be deemed spoilers, and try to avoid revealing anything that hasn’t been featured in the trailers. That said, I still find myself at a loss reviewing “The Good Liar” because this isn’t the case of a …

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The Best Films of the 2010s: Phantom Thread

This feature is a part of a series on the best films of the 2010s, resulting from our ranked top 25, which you can read here. This is #5.  If the 2010s did anything from a cinematic perspective, they proved conclusively—not that there was much doubt—that Paul Thomas Anderson deserved a position of prominence as one …

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American Dharma

Errol Morris has a fondness for tackling controversial figures (Robert McNamara, Donald Rumsfeld, the guards at the center of the Abu Ghraib scandal and execution device designer/Holocaust denier Fred A. Leuchter, Jr.) not by confronting them head-on, but by carefully scrutinizing them as they tell their stories and justify their actions at length without overtly …

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Mrs. Lowry & Son

Laurence Stephen Lowry was a British artist who would eventually earn great renown for his paintings, many of which were inspired by the working-class neighborhood of Pendlebury, Lancashire, where he lived for over 40 years. His unique visual style, which was best exemplified by his depictions of the surrounding urban landscapes filled with so-called “matchstick …

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Turning It On: Michael Shannon on The Current War

When it premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in 2017, “The Current War,” was not well-received and there were rumors of a clash between director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon and producer Harvey Weinstein over the final cut. When Weinstein had his public fall from grace only a couple of weeks later, the film was pulled from the …

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Robert Evans: 1930-2019

It is no exaggeration to say that if the wild life and times of producer Robert Evans had been the invention of a particularly creative screenwriter, most studios probably would have taken a pass on it on the grounds that it was simply too crazy and unlikely to be believed. After all, this is a …

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CIFF 2019: The Apollo, The Torch

For anyone with even the slightest working knowledge of pop cultural history, it is impossible to underestimate the importance and significance of Harlem’s famed Apollo Theater and legendary blues musician Buddy Guy. The former is one of the most famous concert venues in the world and has featured performances by virtually every African-American entertainer of …

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Telling the Story: Francois Ozon on By the Grace of the God

Thanks to a number of hit films that have centered almost exclusively around female characters and narratives driven by sly wit, wild plot developments and a frank and oftentimes transgressive attitude towards sexuality, French filmmaker Francois Ozon has become one of the most distinctive and celebrated voices on the international cinema scene over the past …

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Countdown

Before the screening of “Countdown,” a horror film about a phone app that can supposedly tell you the exact moment when you are going to die, the radio personality hosting the screening told the not-exactly-rapt crowd that such an app actually existed. He then encouraged audience members to download it for themselves just before the movie started. Needless …

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Mountaintop

Over the past half-century, Neil Young has followed his muse into any number of different musical genres and has played with enough different groups to fill an entire wing at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. However, amidst his relentless, defining desire for change, the one constant has been Crazy Horse, the rock band …

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