At a time when documentaries load themselves up with fancy visual effects, dramatic reenactments, and Oscar-quality cinematography, Citizenfour is a no-nonsense, hurriedly-shot account of director Laura Poitras's role in Edward Snowden's 2013 revelations about the National Security Agency's rampant, illegal surveillance of hundreds of millions of ordinary Americans and foreigners. Poitras was originally contacted by Snowden himself: he'd known of… read more!
Movie Titles: C
This intense gangster thriller was originally released in US theatres in early 2003; it was brought back for a re-release a year later after earning four surprising Oscar nominations in major categories - direction, adapted screenplay, cinematography and editing - all of which turned out to be well-deserved. I felt like a fool for ignoring this amazing movie in 2003… read more!
Innocuous sci-fi fantasy, aimed for teens and below, about a young man (Jesse Bradford) who stumbles across a wristwatch created by his aloof inventor dad that can slow time to a crawl - allowing the wearer to move at lightning fast speeds. The old "I have a device that can stop time for anybody but me" gimmick is at least… read more!
It's a sad state of affairs: audiences complain that Hollywood is out of ideas – that with all the sequels, reboots, and movies based on TV shows that we're inundated with, the whole damn industry must be creatively bankrupt. But when you get something ambitious, unusual, daring, and challenging like Cloud Atlas, these same audiences stay away in droves because it's… read more!
I admit that I'm sort of a "Pixar snob", in that the only computer animated movies I really trust are those cranked out by the story-obsessed team at Pixar. Most everything else is crap. However, I will get out once in a while to see the competition if a friend is involved. I saw Kung Fu Panda because an old… read more!
First, a bit of disclosure: I was hired to do some creative writing for the Blu-ray release of Cloverfield. Working on the disc and thus having to study Cloverfield's filmmaking process intensely, I wound up liking the film a lot - much more, perhaps, than I might have if I'd seen it in a theater, where I wouldn't have had… read more!
Jarmusch's collection of twelve short films about various people sitting around drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes has the problems you'd expect from a collection of twelve short films about various people sitting around drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes. Some work, some don't. Some are funny, some are boring. For fans of Jarmusch - and I'm a big one - watching… read more!
You may not know this, but right now the current idol of film school students and other would-be auteurs is no longer Martin Scorsese, Roman Polanski, or Stanley Kubrick. It is Michael Mann. A filmmaker known for displaying a flashy style over the last 20 years (including the Miami Vice and Crime Story TV series), Mann's significance as a director… read more!
I didn't know much about this film when I went to see it, and I'm glad I didn't, so I won't share much of the story here: Suffice it to say that it concerns a blind eight-year-old boy (Mohsen Ramezani) whose happiness, generosity, and warmth endear him to everyone he meets - except for his sad, widowed father (Hossein Mahjoub),… read more!
Purposefully icky drama based almost note for note on a real event that happened in 2004, where a prank caller posing as a police officer phoned a Kentucky McDonald's (here re-imagined as a fictitious "ChickWich" restaurant in Ohio) and manipulated its female manager into accusing a pretty young underling of theft, imprisoning her in a back office, and strip-searching her.… read more!
Defiantly weird indie "comedy" that's set mostly in a nondescript hotel in 1980, where various teams from tech universities around the country have brought their clunky computers and chess-playing software to face off in a heated tournament, all for a modest cash prize and quiet nerd glory. After seeing writer-director Bujalski's unremarkable but sweet slacker comedy Mutual Appreciation, I was… read more!
Aleksei Guskov - sort of the Russian Sam Neill - plays Andrei, the disgraced former conductor of Moscow's famed Bolshoi orchestra who, thirty years after his dismissal, now works as a janitor at the very theater he once commanded. In an admittedly contrived turn of events, Andrei intercepts a faxed invitation to the Bolshoi to play in Paris, and decides… read more!
In order to explain why I liked this movie so much, I have to tell you that a) I have long been a big fan of The Gong Show; b) I think Sam Rockwell is one of the most entertaining screen actors around; and c) I have always liked the notion of living a normal life while secretly employed as… read more!
The producers of The Constant Gardener, saddled with one of the least exciting titles for a thriller ever (thanks to John Le Carré, who invented the title for his novel on which the film is based), did the smartest thing they could have done by hiring Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles to helm this Africa-based story of murder and corporate conspiracy.… read more!
Contagion opens with Gwyneth Paltrow coughing into her cell phone at a Chicago airport, with the title "Day 2" ominously burned into the frame. Two days later - and just a few minutes into the movie - her character is dead, as is her six year old son. Thus begins the fast-paced tale of a fast-paced fatal virus, and the… read more!
When I saw Michael Winterbottom's 24 Hour Party People in 2002, a dramatization of the Manchester, England music scene from the late '70s to the early '90s, I remember liking the chapter on Joy Division and its front man Ian Curtis (who committed suicide at the age of 23, the day before the band was to embark on its first… read more!
Two former lovers - played by Aaron Eckhart and Helena Bonham Carter - see each other for the first time in years at a mutual acquaintance's wedding, which reignites their attraction to each other. That's the synopsis at its simplest. The clever twist? The entire film is shot in split-screen. As a concept, it's not as annoying as it sounds.… read more!
Routine indie drama that stars the redoubtable William H. Macy as Bernie, a loser whose luck is so bad that it actually makes those around him unlucky. Consequently, he works in an old-school Vegas casino as the floor's "cooler", sidling up to anyone on a winning streak and immediately turning their good fortune sour. However, when Bernie meets a casino… read more!
Wonderfully weird stop-motion animated film from the director of The Nightmare Before Christmas, who adapted the "young readers" book by cult writer Neil Gaiman, immediately ranks among the creepiest movies ever made for kids. That's a compliment. Moving Gaiman's story from a London flat to a Victorian house on the outskirts of Ashland, Oregon (a nice touch; I like Ashland,… read more!
I'm kind of a Shakespeare geek. But only kind of. What I mean is that I inherited this massive tome of his works - complete with photos of famous British actors performing the roles from the 1950s, neat! - and, many years ago, while bored, I read through several of his plays. Even the lesser-known ones. Two seldom-performed plays stood… read more!