cinema

Rob Edelman: Different Films

Nov 28, 2016

Right now, the heavy hitters-- translation: the high-profile Academy Award hopefuls-- are debuting in theaters. Two of the very best are as different as old-fashioned Hollywood fantasy-gloss and slap-in-your-face reality.

Rob Edelman: Black Life

Nov 21, 2016

A number of high-quality, deservedly-acclaimed films that illuminate the lives of black Americans are arriving in movie theaters. They include MOONLIGHT, one of the very best films of the year: an intimate, moving character study about Chiron, a young black male who is an outsider in his world.

Rob Edelman: Andrzej Wajda

Nov 14, 2016

Andrzej Wajda is the best-known and most revered Polish filmmaker of his generation. His films are daring, provocative, and personal. Plus, many are decidedly political in that they focus on individuals who valiantly resist repression or ponder the realities of war and heroism.

Rob Edelman: Arrival

Nov 7, 2016

These days, so many science fiction films either dazzle viewers with special effects or terrify them with doomsday-laden end-of-the-world scenarios. So it is a happy surprise to find one that is genuinely intelligent, emotionally powerful-- and one of the best films of the year. Such a film is ARRIVAL, directed by Denis Villeneuve, which presently is arriving in movie theaters.

Audrey Kupferberg: Denial

Nov 1, 2016

DENIAL, a newly-released film, relates a very important true story, one that actually drew headlines 16 years ago. The focus of the plot is a lawsuit that worked its way through English courts from 1996 into the 21st century. In this suit, self-proclaimed historian David Irving sued Penguin Books and Deborah Lipstadt, an eminent American scholar on Holocaust Studies, for libel for characterizing some of his writings and public statements as Holocaust denial.

Rob Edelman: Barry/Barack/Michelle

Oct 24, 2016

Films about real American presidents and first ladies currently are playing in film festivals and earning theatrical play. Two that were screened at the Toronto International Film Festival are LBJ, featuring Woody Harrelson as Lyndon Baines Johnson, and JACKIE, with Natalie Portman as Jackie Kennedy. And as his eight years in the White House fade into history, Barack Obama is a central character in two celluloid biopics which deal with his pre-presidency. One, titled BARRY, also was screened in Toronto. Another, titled SOUTHSIDE WITH YOU, came to theaters at the end of August.

Audrey Kupferberg: Death Fantasies In The Movies

Oct 21, 2016

Throughout the history of the movies, there have been realistic portrayals of death. But there also have been many instances where death is handled as eerie fantasy. As we move towards Halloween, stories featuring death and its supernatural elements are dominating home screens.

Rob Edelman: Hot-Off-The-Presses Holocaust Films

Oct 17, 2016

It’s been said before and it is well-worth repeating: As time passes, the world is becoming increasingly separated from World War II and the Holocaust. The youngest concentration camp survivors now are senior citizens and Elie Wiesel, one of the most justifiably celebrated survivors, recently passed away. His death at age 87 serves as a sobering reminder of the passage of time and the fear that the Holocaust just may fade into history.

Rob Edelman: Controversy: The Birth Of A Nation

Oct 10, 2016

The title of a new film, THE BIRTH OF A NATION, is a purposefully biting take on the D.W. Griffith film of the same name, released over a century ago, in which the heroes are members of the Ku Klux Klan. And it is one of the season’s most anticipated and justifiably hyped new releases. This latest BIRTH OF A NATION also is extremely controversial. In fact, it just may be the most debated American film since THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST in 2004.

Rob Edelman: One More New Documentary

Oct 3, 2016

For quite a while now, a wide range of superior documentaries have examined a wide range of issues. Among the latest is THE RUINS OF LIFTA, a thoughtful, multi-layered depiction of contemporary Israeli-Palestinian relations that has just opened theatrically in Manhattan and will be doing so momentarily in Los Angeles.

Rob Edelman: Variety In Toronto

Sep 26, 2016

We now are entering the annual fall film festival season, and an array of Oscar-hopeful features are screening at festivals in anticipation of their theatrical play. This year at the Toronto International Film Festival, the hype involved a host of high profile films and red-carpet-strolling movie stars. Two, for example, star Amy Adams. NOCTURNAL ANIMALS may feature a potentially intriguing storyline and an eye-opening opening sequence. But dramatically, it fell apart for me. On the other hand, ARRIVAL is a sci-fi tale that oozes intelligence and should be a well-deserved Oscar contender.

Rob Edelman: Snowden

Sep 19, 2016

There are two approaches to viewing SNOWDEN, the latest Oliver Stone film, which has just opened theatrically. One is to comment on the film’s artistry and cinematic aesthetic, and compare it to its creator’s previous work. The other is to reflect on what Stone is telling us about Edward Snowden, the controversial National Security Agency contractor who became a fugitive upon revealing America’s illegal surveillance of its citizens. And also, what is this film telling us about our world in 2016: our values, our feelings about privacy, and the manner in which a government can control the flow of information to its citizens?

Audrey Kupferberg: Florence Foster Jenkins

Sep 16, 2016

Have you seen the advertising stills and posters for FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS, the late summer release from director Stephen Frears? In just about every image, the three major characters smile in a carefree, bubbly fashion as though they just tasted the most delicious champagne. There are Florence herself played by Meryl Streep, her husband St. Clair Bayfield played by Hugh Grant, and highly talented Simon Helberg from THE BIG BANG THEORY appearing as her piano accompanist.

Rob Edelman: “Politically Correct” History

Sep 12, 2016

In countless films that are produced in the present but whose stories are reflections of the past, “politically correct” depictions have increasingly been the norm. And so a film set during World War II will feature black GIs fighting side-by-side with whites, even though the American military at the time was segregated. For that matter, a scenario set at any time in history just may feature an integrated cast, characters from a range of races, and relationships between these characters-- even though such intermingling does not represent the facts of history.

Rob Edelman: Woody Through The Years

Sep 5, 2016

CAFÉ SOCIETY is the kind of film that I might see, and moderately enjoy, and quickly forget. But this is not the case. The reason is that it is written and directed by Woody Allen. And Woody Allen’s films, whether they are classics or embarrassments or anything in between, always stick in my gut.

Rob Edelman: Kirk Douglas

Aug 22, 2016

During my just-concluded trip to London, I was not surprised to find that Kirk Douglas was the cover-boy on the BFI Southbank’s September/October film screening program. He certainly deserves to be feted, and not just because he will be celebrating his 100th birthday on December 9. For Kirk Douglas is one of his generation’s premier movie stars.

Audrey Kupferberg: A Couple Of Down And Outs

Aug 19, 2016

In an age when we have come to believe that any film can be seen leisurely at home if you sit on your sofa long enough, it is particularly exciting to enjoy a cinematheque screening of a film that is not available to the home market in any format, one that has not been shown on home or theater screens for close to 100 years.

Rob Edelman: Westerns New And Old

Aug 15, 2016

Given its title and storyline, LES COWBOYS-- a new film that has been released theatrically here in the U.S.-- has to be categorized as a Western. This is so even though LES COWBOYS was made in France, is set in non-American locales, and unfolds not in the 19th century American West but in more contemporary times.

In THE THIN BLUE LINE, a landmark documentary from 1988, filmmaker Errol Morris conclusively proves that a man named Randall Adams was wrongly convicted of murder and dispatched to prison. Adams is victimized by a corrupt justice system in Dallas County, Texas, and, as a direct result of Morris’s investigative skills, he wins his freedom. Such is the power of filmmaking at its very best.

When one thinks of Humphrey Bogart, one thinks of "The Maltese Falcon", "The African Queen", "The Treasure of The Sierra Madre", and, of course, "Casablanca". However, one worthy film starring Bogie has finally become available on home entertainment. It is titled "Deadline - U.S.A" , it dates from 1952 and, while admittedly not of the caliber of a "The Maltese Falcon" or " Casablanca" , it is a fine film that for one reason or another is too little-known.

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.

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