Author's posts

The Kindness of Strangers

Just when we thought movies that assert we are all circumstantially connected via cosmic powers went out of fashion for good, comes along yet another story of intertwined destinies. Outdated from the offset—think Fernando Meirelles’ “360,” Garry Marshall’s “New Year’s Eve” and a certain brand of early Alejandro González Iñárritu films without the miserablism—the frustratingly …

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And Then We Danced

Dance is both a personal expression of freedom and an oppressive enclosure in “And Then We Danced,” Swedish-born filmmaker Levan Akin’s passionate coming-of-age tale, set in contemporary Tbilisi. In a statement, the writer/director (of Georgian descent) reflects that the time-honored folkloric dance, the Church, and traditional polyphonic singing stand as the three most important pillars …

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Sundance 2020: The Glorias, Herself, Four Good Days

In a year where female driven stories and reflections on #MeToo and #TimesUp stole the spotlight in Park City, Julie Taymor’s “The Glorias” couldn’t have been a more fitting Sundance premiere. A scrapbook-y biopic on feminist icon Gloria Steinem—played primarily by Julianne Moore and Alicia Vikander, as well as Lulu Wilson and Ryan Kiera Armstrong …

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Discomfort Abounds: Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Will Ferrell on Downhill

If you have already seen “Force Majeure,” Swedish filmmaker Ruben Östlund’s intriguingly comedic tale of a marriage that goes in crisis mode at a ski resort in the Alps, you won’t need much hand-holding through “Downhill,” its remake of sorts from Oscar-winning duo Nat Faxon and Jim Rash (with a screenplay penned by the two, …

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Troop Zero

If Wes Anderson were to mesh “Bad News Bears” with a live-action “Monsters University,” the result would look and feel something like “Troop Zero,” a whimsical, if not generic kiddie adventure more suited for young ones than grown-ups. Led by McKenna Grace—the remarkable young actor of “I, Tonya” and “Gifted” and directed by a female …

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Three Christs

“Your work is novel, brilliant and dangerous,” his departmental superior says to Dr. Alan Stone (Richard Gere), a psychiatrist in the midst of conducting a series of revolutionary therapy sessions on three schizophrenic patients who all believed they were Jesus Christ. While Jon Avnet’s (“Fried Green Tomatoes”) drama is based on Polish-American social psychologist Milton …

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Invisible Life

Lush melodramas are a dying breed, especially masterful ones like Karim Aïnouz’s “Invisible Life” that wear Douglas Sirkian genre conventions on their sleeve proudly and abundantly. From its very first frame, Aïnouz’s vibrant and warm-hued picture—the deserving winner of the Un Certain Regard prize at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival—envelops you within its tropical world …

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The Wolf Hour

Playing a self-banished, agoraphobic recluse, Naomi Watts delivers a disquieting, mostly one-woman performance in writer/director Alistair Banks Griffin’s “The Wolf Hour.” It’s a drab vision of mental struggle that owes all of its limited draw to its lead—you can’t imagine spending those 90 or so grimy and claustrophobic minutes with anyone other than Watts. But …

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Portrait of a Lady on Fire

French writer/director Céline Sciamma has hypnotizing powers—her spellbinding pull was unmissable in both the sensual “Water Lilies” and the gleaming coming-of-age tale “Girlhood.” With “Portrait of a Lady on Fire,” she takes that cinematic magnetism to new heights and periods, to a cliffside manor somewhere on the coast of Brittany in the 1770s. Imbued with …

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Hala

Following the ordinary beats of a teen’s everyday life, writer/director Minhal Baig’s gentle and attentive sophomore feature “Hala” possesses something inherently extraordinary by just being about a young, female Muslim-American. It’s an unassuming film that hops on a casual rhythm and shines its wisdom to let its lead character Hala (Geraldine Viswanathan) just be; by …

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Last Christmas

It’s that time of year where multiplexes across the nation prepare to serve up Christmas fare as sugary as a cup of eggnog. The love-to-hate-it schmaltz and syrupiness of it all can be pleasant for sure, if the output is something wittier and more starry-eyed than “Last Christmas,” a seasonal rom-com with little romance and …

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The Best Films of the 2010s: Inside Llewyn Davis

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 #3.  “If it was never new, and it never gets old, then it’s a folk song.” This profound musing is offered by Llewyn Davis to a live audience …

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Harriet

Harriet Tubman’s incredible life story instantly screams cinematic. Yet somehow, the renowned icon, among the most celebrated freedom fighters of American history, has never been given a major movie to her name before; a fact that is all the more frustrating considering Hollywood’s insatiable appetite for biopics that feature important male figures. Through her assured …

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Tell Me Who I Am

Would you give someone you love the “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” cure if you could? Meaning, would you erase painful recollections on their behalf, just to take their lifelong ache away? It’s a good question to ponder while settling into Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Ed Perkins’ “Tell Me Who I Am,” which contemplates the …

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Bong Joon-ho on the Themes and Crafts of His Must-See Film, Parasite

“I love this weather. A London or a Belfast kind of weather, I just love it,” writer/director Bong Joon-ho tells me on a rainy New York afternoon last week. “The strong California sunshine makes me very nervous and anxious. I don’t know why.” Well, who cares about the odd wind and the annoying, muddy puddles …

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The King

Sooner or later, Timothée Chalamet was bound to be enthroned with a meaty lead role in a historical epic. Among the most exciting actors of his generation at 23 years of age, he lands on the perfect canvas to marry his stage-imbued talent, soulful gravitas and undeniable movie-star charisma in “Animal Kingdom” director David Michôd’s …

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The Day Shall Come

A political satire in the biting spirit of “Wag the Dog” and “In the Loop”—though not nearly as sharp as either—Christopher Morris’ “The Day Shall Come” claims with a title card that it’s based on a hundred true stories. This bold declaration might sound like it’s blown out of proportion at first, considering we’re in …

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Villains

There is an inherent level of tonal ambiguity baked into the home invasion thriller-cum-comedy “Villains,” the third feature collaboration of the filmmaking duo Dan Berk and Robert Olsen. Also serving as the co-scribes of a story that tiptoes around notes both absurd and unsettling, Berk and Olsen manage to milk that uncertainty for all it’s …

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Frankie

A shrewd, unhurried portrait of family and friendship, Ira Sachs’ “Frankie” might at first seem like a departure for the filmmaker. After all, Sachs is mostly known for his signature New York-based films that feel their way through the lives of urban dwellers with a rare measure of authenticity. In that sense, he and his …

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Telluride 2019: Kitty Green on Her Pre-#MeToo Thriller, The Assistant

In the midst of all the buzz around big titles like “Marriage Story” and “Ford v Ferrari,” it’s sometimes easy to sleep on some of Telluride’s more modestly scoped offerings. But it would be a shame to leave this notoriously short film festival without falling in love with at least one small and true discovery. …

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