cinema

Rob Edelman: Todd Solondz, Wiener-Dog, And More

Jul 18, 2016

Upon first hearing the title WIENER-DOG, written and directed by Todd Solondz, one of the most idiosyncratic and fiercely independent American filmmakers of the past two decades, I was immediately reminded of WELCOME TO THE DOLLHOUSE, his breakthrough feature, which dates from 1995. WELCOME TO THE DOLLHOUSE remains a brilliant film, not just one of the best of its year but a top film of its decade.

Audrey Kupferberg: Pioneers Of African-American Cinema

Jul 15, 2016

The 1920s through the 1940s are the Golden Age of Cinema.  It was a time of tremendous growth in the film industry, when billions of investment dollars were poured into the purchase of Hollywood real estate, and the studio system perfected the production of sophisticated motion pictures. 

Rob Edelman: Fastball

Jul 11, 2016

One does not have to be a sports fan, or a baseball fan-atic, to thoroughly enjoy FASTBALL, a documentary which has just been released to home entertainment. FASTBALL offers up a knowing portrait of baseball in the 21st century. Now sure, a major part of that portrait is the importance of a pitcher challenging a batter by throwing a baseball 100-plus miles per hour. But on a broader scale, FASTBALL offers an overview of how the world is constantly, endlessly changing, on so many levels. Plus, that change should not be judged, particularly by those who have been around for decades and who fondly recall what the world was like in the so-called “good old days.”  

Rob Edelman: Two Views Of New York

Jul 4, 2016

New York City is a city of vast extremes. On the one hand, you have celebrities. You have glitter. You have Big Money and Manhattan Towers. You have the power and influence that emanates from Wall Street and Madison Avenue.

Rob Edelman: Germans...And Jews...And Brigitte Helm

Jun 27, 2016

Given the reality of the Holocaust-- and this truth is forcefully examined in SON OF SAUL, the 2015 Best Foreign Film Academy Award winner-- one might wonder why there presently is a rapidly-growing Jewish population in Berlin. Granted, over seven decades have passed since the end of World War II but, still, by settling in Berlin, are Jews somehow ignoring that country’s less than stellar history?

Rob Edelman: Finding Controversy

Jun 20, 2016

FINDING DORY, the latest Disney-Pixar animated feature to come to movie theaters, has been causing quite a bit of pre-release controversy. In the film’s trailer, there is an ever-so-brief shot of a little girl, a baby carriage, and two women who apparently are her lesbian parents.

Audrey Kupferberg: Love And Friendship

Jun 17, 2016

Whit Stillman has made a jewel of a film called LOVE AND FRIENDSHIP.  Stillman, who was raised in Cornwall-on-Hudson, NY, doesn’t have a very prolific career as a film writer/director, but his films, which include METROPOLITAN, THE LAST DAYS OF DISCO, and DAMSELS IN DISTRESS, are artful and clearly are his unique conceptions.  

Rob Edelman: Donald Trump, Screen Personality

Jun 13, 2016

As we all know, Ronald Reagan was a movie actor before he became the California governor and the United States president. Donald Trump, the billionaire businessman-turned Republican Party presidential contender, has never been toplined onscreen but, for decades, he’s been a celebrity, a recognizable face and name. And so for decades, he’s been directly referenced in film and TV scripts. He’s made cameo appearances onscreen. Plus, even one rather infamous screen villain is based on The Donald.

Rob Edelman: Film Noir Restorations

Jun 6, 2016

These days, it seems, everybody is fascinated by film noir. Of all the  “older” film genres or sub-genres, plenty of my students are most-intrigued by film noir. And not all film noirs are like DOUBLE INDEMNITY, THE KILLERS, or OUT OF THE PAST. Not all are bona-fide classics.

Rob Edelman: Two New Documentaries

May 30, 2016

Documentaries can be powerful visual records. For after all, they are reflections of real life. You can watch a fiction film and always tell yourself “Oh, it’s only a movie” when a character is shown to suffer. If there is graphic violence, you know that at one point during the filming the director yelled “Cut” and all the actors and extras stood up, wiped away the fake blood, and went off into the night. But you do not have this option while watching a documentary.

As we finally are able to see the end of the road for the current presidential primaries—and as we look ahead to the upcoming presidential election campaign, it is an appropriate time to look back at the ways in which previous presidential campaigns have been executed, and recorded through the types of media then available throughout modern American history.  

Rob Edelman: Presidents And Movies, Part 2

May 16, 2016

Across the decades, a number of biopics about U.S. presidents have come out of Hollywood. And if fictional senators, mayors, or aldermen have understandably been depicted as liars and cheaters, most American presidents have been portrayed as American heroes. Such is the case with fictional chief executives and, as for the films spotlighting real presidents, most also have stressed the positive.

Rob Edelman: Presidents And Movies, Part 1

May 9, 2016

Crooked senators, lying governors, and sleazy political kingpins may be found in endless Hollywood films produced across the decades. One could spend hours citing examples-- and one need not wonder why celluloid politicians have long been collectively depicted as crooks and liars.  

The heyday of the silent cinema ended almost nine decades ago. But the very best silent films still are visual feasts. They are pleasures to discover and pleasures to enjoy-- and I am not just referring to the classic comedies of the legendary Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Harold Lloyd. Films like F.W. Murnau’s SUNRISE, NOSFERATU, and THE LAST LAUGH; King Vidor’s THE CROWD; Fritz Lang’s METROPOLIS; E.A. Dupont’s VARIETE; and so many others have long been personal favorites.

Rob Edelman: Sally And Jake

Apr 25, 2016

Two new films are worth a look not because they are particularly good films. Each one is seriously flawed. But they are worth seeing because of the presences and performances of their stars.

This month, Turner Classic Movies is paying tribute to the 20th Century’s “royal family of Broadway,” the Barrymores.  Lionel, Ethel, and John Barrymore, that is, three siblings whose artful work brightened the stage and screen throughout the first half of the century. 

Rob Edelman: Good And (Mostly) Bad Movies

Apr 18, 2016

Every year, it seems, practically all the films that earn theatrical releases between the first day of January and the dog days of August are throwaways at best. At their worst, they are mindless alleged entertainments that are the equivalent of assembly line products that have been spat out of a computer.

Rob Edelman: Balls, Bats, And Popular Culture

Apr 11, 2016

Last month, as the 2016 baseball preseason was kicking off, I attended the 23rd annual NINE Spring Training Conference in Phoenix. Those who ran the event did a first-rate job; the presentations were generally illuminating; plus, I got to (finally) meet and get to know so many interesting people as well as see three ballgames in three days in three different ball yards! You can’t beat that!

Rob Edelman: Non-Nominees

Apr 4, 2016

The 2015 Academy Awards were doled out over a month ago. Each year, in the days leading up to the Oscar-cast, a popular topic over water coolers is: Who missed out on a nomination? Who’s gonna win? And even, among the fashionistas: What will so-and-so be wearing while strolling along the Red Carpet?

Rob Edelman: Animals And Humans

Mar 28, 2016

Cinematically-speaking, horses generally are portrayed as being in the service of humankind and controlled by humans, who believe they are superior simply because horses are merely animals. In sagas of the Old West, for example, horses are little more than modes of transportation. Or in films from NATIONAL VELVET to SEABISCUIT, they are speedsters who zip along racetracks at record paces and win fame for their owners, trainers, or riders.

Rob Edelman: Terrorism

Mar 7, 2016

In LONDON HAS FALLEN, a high-tech action thriller which has just been released theatrically, the leaders of the Western nations come to the title city to attend the funeral of the British Prime Minister. What follows is a scenario involving a deadly plan to assassinate them all, despite the tight security protecting them. Cinematically-speaking, there is nothing fresh and new about this doomsday scenario. Indeed, LONDON HAS FALLEN is a sequel to 2013’s OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN. Both feature the same action hero, played by Gerard Butler. In the original, the North Koreans hatch a plot to take over the White House and kidnap the U.S. President.

Rob Edelman: Gena Rowlands

Feb 29, 2016

Amid all the Academy Award hoopla, one would be lax if one did not cite the trio of film folk whom the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honored with special Oscars. In a ceremony this past fall, Debbie Reynolds was given the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award while Honorary Oscars went to Spike Lee and Gena Rowlands.

Rob Edelman: Oscar Uproar

Feb 22, 2016

A nanosecond after the 2015 Academy Award nominees were announced, a controversy surfaced. Of the 20 contenders in the four acting categories, not one was a person of color. Such also was the case with the 2014 nominees. One glaring omission was David Oyelowo, who was skipped over despite his acclaimed performance as Martin Luther King in SELMA.

Audrey Kupferberg: Grandma

Feb 19, 2016

Seventy or eighty years ago in a far distant galaxy called the Hollywood Golden Age, influential studio administrators came to two important realizations.  First of all, women movie-goers liked to see stories featuring strong women characters.  Secondly, on a date and in mixed company, it usually was the female who chose the film to be seen.

Rob Edelman: Stallone

Feb 15, 2016

If there is one sure thing at the upcoming Academy Awards, it is that Sylvester Stallone will walk off with the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance in CREED. In the film, he revisits the character that made him a star: Rocky Balboa. In CREED, Rocky is the ex-heavyweight champ who trains and mentors the son of Apollo Creed, his deceased friend and ex-rival.

Rob Edelman: Oscar Frontrunners

Feb 8, 2016

Of the eight Best Picture Academy Award nominees, the two that are the frontrunners are THE REVENANT and SPOTLIGHT. Both films are well worth seeing-- and contemplating.

Across the decades, so many films of different genres pit the good guys against the bad guys. The good guys are the stalwart heroes: the town sheriff in a western, for example, or the determined cop in a crime film. The bad guys are the villains: the ruthless and soulless killer, the greedy robber, the mad scientist intent on world domination. If these films are well-made, well-written, and well-acted, they work as first-rate entertainment. 

Rob Edelman: Michael Moore’s Where To Invade Next

Jan 25, 2016

Michael Moore is one of contemporary American culture’s most polarizing figures. Your response to his films more often than not will directly relate to your politics. But one thing is certain: Michael Moore craves attention. He yearns to be the focal point of the conversation, and his almost exhibitionistic presence in his various documentaries transcends their content. Such is the case in his latest film, which is titled WHERE TO INVADE NEXT.

Rob Edelman: Best Performances

Jan 18, 2016

Oscar nomination or no Oscar nomination, the vast majority of the high-profile performances-- both leading and supporting-- of the recently concluded year were given by actors who have won nominations and statuettes in previous years. This list includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Cate Blanchett, Helen Mirren, Kate Winslet, Saoirse Ronan, Johnny Depp, Michael Fassbender, Rooney Mara, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Shannon, Mark Ruffalo, Eddie Redmayne...and Jane Fonda...and Sylvester Stallone. However, in 2015, a host of non-Oscared performers deservedly earned kudos for their screen work. Some are celluloid novices, while others have been around for decades. 

Audrey Kupferberg: BBC Police Procedural RIVER

Jan 15, 2016

In the genre of police procedurals, it is common for one or more of the suspects to be suffering from mental illness.  Crime often is linked to an unbalanced view of the world, a distortion of reality.  In RIVER, the 2015 six-part BBC series that recently became available on Netflix streaming, the tables are turned.  Instead of perps with unbalanced eyes towards their surroundings, it is the police officer who is unhinged.  Detective Inspector John River of the Metropolitan Police in London, a character played with sensitivity and at times even brilliance by Stellan Skarsgard, is the focal point of RIVER.   

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