Short Films in Focus: Netflix’s Quarantine Compilation Film, Homemade

“Art is just a way to force a new perspective on something familiar.” That’s a line from the final episode of Netflix’s “Homemade,” a series consisting of 17 short films from acclaimed filmmakers, all produced during quarantine in the spring of 2020. These internationally curated perspectives are mostly about one thing that remains new to …

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#384 July 7, 2020

Matt writes: Carl Reiner, the towering comedic genius responsible for creating “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” died last week at the age of 98. He remained uproarious and brilliant to the very end, and there’s no question that his work will keep us entertained for the next 2000 years. Two days before his passing, he tweeted, “Nothing …

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Ennio Morricone: 1928-2020

“I’m convinced my music is not just for films; it has its own life. It can live far away from the images of the movie.” Any Monday morning would be brightened by the accompaniment of the iconic music of Ennio Morricone, but today it is played in remembrance. The great composer has died in Rome …

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‘I Am Shiva, the God of Death’: On the Deserved Anger of Michael Clayton

“I’m not the enemy.” “Then who are you?” A hypnotic thriller about a law firm’s “fixer” realizing that the agricultural company he’s defending is involved in a murderous conspiracy, Tony Gilroy’s “Michael Clayton” used George Clooney’s wounded eyes, Tom Wilkinson’s frenzied soliloquies, and Merritt Wever’s soft-spoken melancholy to wonder how much commercial corruption we could …

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Revisiting the Screwball Charms of What’s Up Doc?

Roger Ebert once said that Great Movies should feel fresh every time you watch them, but I’ve come to wonder if this phrase applies to the beloved comedies from my early years. When I last sat down to watch “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World,” once considered the very definition of funny, I couldn’t even make …

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Frederick Douglass Reminds Us Why Black Lives Matter on the Fourth of July

I think when we look back on this period in our history, we will find that the coronavirus pandemic and the awakening of global consciousness about race and humanity and equality are inextricably linked in ways we don’t currently understand. On July 4th, “Independence Day,” I had many conversations with younger family members and older friends about …

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Carlos Aguilar Joins Chorus of Immigrants Praising DACA

Ebert Fellow, Carlos Aguilar, recently penned a wonderful article for Variety in which he discussed how President Obama’s DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program and his immigrant experience shaped his perspective as a film critic. When the Trump Administration rescinded DACA, thus removing temporary protections offered to roughly a million undocumented youth, Aguilar decided to publicly …

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Living Legends: A Salute to Norman Lear

Carl Reiner famously said, “If you’re not in the obit, eat breakfast,” a statement that was so resonant, it became the title of Danny Gold’s 2017 documentary about nonagenarians. They included Reiner’s longtime friends Mel Brooks and Norman Lear, both of whom have continued to entertain and enlighten the world well into their nineties. In …

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A Drop in the Ocean: On the Three Seasons of Netflix’s Mesmerizing Dark

“What we know is a drop. What we don’t know is an ocean.”  Taken from its final season, this is a fitting way to describe “Dark,” the first German Netflix original, a show that blasts you with multiple timelines, interconnected family trees, and more questions than you can hope to answer. The conclusion to this …

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The Outpost

Director Rod Lurie’s first film in almost a decade is also one of his best, and the first movie since our national nightmare began in 2020 that I really regretted not being able to see in a theater. While I would always prefer a theatrical exhibition, the truth is that films like “The King of …

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Relic

“Where’s everyone? Where is everyone?” When the old confused woman (Robyn Nevin) asks the question, again and again, she truly needs an answer. Although her daughter and granddaughter are with her, her experience is that of total isolation, of wondering where “everyone” has gone. This heart-rending moment in “Relic,” the directorial debut of Australian filmmaker …

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The Truth

“I never tell the naked truth,” says legendary French actress Fabienne (Catherine Deneuve) to her daughter Lumir (Juliette Binoche). “It’s not interesting.”  Fabienne is justifying the numerous fabrications and omissions in her new memoir, but she could also be talking about her approach to acting—or to life itself. Hirokazu Kore-eda’s “The Truth” toys with the …

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Family Romance, LLC

After its premiere at Cannes in 2019, the press around Werner Herzog’s “Family Romance LLC” centered on the unique, experimental nature of the film, but it’s really very much in keeping with themes that the master filmmaker has explored for decades. A director who has often analyzed the presence of artifice in society and has …

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Desperados

Remember the accidental email sequence in Nancy Meyers’ wonderful “The Intern”? To refresh your memory: Anne Hathaway’s overworked executive erroneously sends a cruel email to her mother and authorizes a group of her employees to break into her mom’s house and delete the message before it’s read. Now imagine that basic idea stretched to its …

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David Foster: Off the Record

“David Foster: Off the Record” is a tribute to the multi-Grammy winning songwriter and producer, as curated by the man himself, David Foster. Most people are celebrated by a documentary like this after they’ve stepped away from the spotlight; at the very least, these types of projects aren’t usually made with the subject in the room. But …

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Money Machine

Director Ramsey Denison clearly cares a great deal about his home city of Las Vegas. His film “Money Machine” seeks to expose inept leadership that at least exacerbated the pain following the worst mass shooting in the history of the country, arguably rushed to cover up what happened with a Sin City sheen, and maybe …

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Hamilton

Just in time for the Fourth of July, Disney+ is doing a solid for anyone who couldn’t get a ticket to the Broadway sensation known as “Hamilton.” All 160 minutes of it, including a very brief intermission and some minor censoring of language, will be streaming on the service starting July 3rd. Shot over two …

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Wonderfully American: Dawn Porter on John Lewis: Good Trouble

Few directors offer as much insight into the battle for equal rights as Dawn Porter. Her newest film, “John Lewis: Good Trouble” accompanies the famed Civil Rights activist and Congressman as he recounts his childhood, early career, and still-fervent drive to enact change. Given her past works documenting African-American public defenders fighting against a prejudiced …

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Netflix Wants to Shake You with the Brutal Ju-On: Origins

Few horror franchises have been as resilient as “Ju-On,” which faded in popularity stateside, at least until the release earlier this year of Nicolas Pesce’s take on “The Grudge,” but has been persistent in its home country of Japan. From 2000 to 2020, there were a stunning 13 films in this series that originated as …

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John Lewis: Good Trouble

The documentary “John Lewis: Good Trouble” is a celebration of the ageless octogenarian, tracing his activism from key moments in the civil rights movement of the 1960s through his efforts today to preserve and protect Americans’ ability to vote, which is increasingly in peril nationwide. Director Dawn Porter’s film is an intimate homage to both …

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