cinema

Rob Edelman: Black Panther

Feb 19, 2018

Upon initially hearing that a new film titled BLACK PANTHER soon would be coming to a theater near you, my gut response was: “Oh no, I really hope this film will not be a rehash of the highly controversial Black Panther Party of the late-1960’s and ‘70’s. Who would be cast as Huey Newton? Who would play Bobby Seale? How would they be presented?”

Audrey Kupferberg: Overlooked And Forgotten Films Of 2017

Feb 16, 2018

With all the Oscar buzz this month, one might think that fewer than twenty feature films were made during 2017. THREE BILLBOARDS, THE SHAPE OF WATER, THE PHANTOM THREAD, LADY BIRD, GET OUT, DARKEST HOUR…

Rob Edelman: Not “Fake News”

Feb 12, 2018

Two current, high-profile films tell fact-based stories that are set in decades past, but each offers sobering truths about our present-day culture. Both feature characters who are well-known, who are name brands. Some are good guys: individuals who are honorable and responsible, and are deserving of our utmost admiration. Others, meanwhile, are out-and-out villains: individuals who are deeply, sadly flawed. They are self-absorbed. They are greedy. They are, at their core, not to be envied. In this regard, both films reflect on some real-world truths.

Rob Edelman: Less-Than-Perfect Parenting

Feb 5, 2018

Here are some thoughts on a couple of current, high-profile movies, both of which feature connections between mothers or fathers and their offspring.

Rob Edelman: Yesterday And Today

Jan 29, 2018

Several weeks ago, on a dark rainy morning, I watched a pair of vintage Hollywood films on Turner Classic Movies. The first was titled TOGETHER AGAIN, and it dates from 1944. TOGETHER AGAIN is a romance about a small-town Vermont mayor who is, horror of horrors, a woman. She is played by Irene Dunne, and I have to wonder: How many of you remember Irene Dunne? Anyway, in no way would this character ever enter politics on her own. It so happens that she is the widow of the now-former mayor, and she inherited the position upon his demise. But of course, now that she is no longer married, her one goal in life should be to find a new man quick, and remarry. And once she crosses paths with charming Charles Boyer, you know that, by the finale, she will relinquish her position all in the name of love, marriage, and a woman’s predetermined lot in life. 

Rob Edelman: The “Other” Donald

Jan 22, 2018

One way in which to market a new film featuring an older star is to hype that star’s presence and performance. This is especially helpful if that star has never earned a competitive Academy Award, or even an Academy Award nomination. So the message here is: Let’s honor this actor. Let’s go see this actor in this film, and then shower this actor with career-defining kudos.

Character development is essential to the success of a narrative film, particularly when the characters are depictions of real people. Audiences should enter the mind and witness the growth of the character using all the cinematic devices a movie crew can muster. Yet I wonder: Has character development become a secondary aspect of filmmaking in a world that emphasizes action flicks? I, TONYA and ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD are two basically well-made films that are letdowns in the category of character development.

Rob Edelman: Middle-Eastern Cinema

Jan 15, 2018

Films that come out of the Middle East do not just center on Arab-Israeli relations and conflicts or the hows and whys of individuals who become terrorists. They tell a range of stories and deal with a range of issues. Plus, they are made by filmmakers who are transcending borders and earning some well-deserved international acclaim.

Rob Edelman: Godard

Jan 8, 2018

Hard to believe that Jean-Luc Godard, one of the pillars of the French New Wave, soon will be approaching his ninetieth birthday. Godard has been a respected, controversial player on the international film scene since those who now qualify as senior citizens still were in grade school. In recent years-- no, actually, in recent decades-- Godard’s films have been free-form collages: exploration of ideas that challenge the nature of traditional cinematic narrative. Whether you take to his work or not, Godard remains an inspired creator who still has much to say about art, society, and human relations.

Rob Edelman: Three Performances

Jan 1, 2018

Denzel Washington is one of the contemporary cinema’s great actors. Yet not all the films in which he appears are great films. One example is ROMAN J. ISRAEL, ESQ., which recently arrived in movie theaters. Washington plays the title character, a lawyer who is a product of the political activism of the 1970’s. He now is well into middle age, and has devoted his career to shunning the big bucks while embracing his activism. But 2017 is on so many levels a lifetime away from 1977 and, on so many levels, Roman J. Israel, Esq.’s dedication is not at all appreciated by those in his midst.

Rob Edelman: Dunkirk Redux

Dec 25, 2017

Not every very best 2017 film is an instant Academy Award contender that debuted at the September film festivals. One is the deservedly heralded DUNKIRK, which premiered theatrically in July and has just arrived on home entertainment. Given its overall quality, it was not surprising that, even though it had already played theatrically, DUNKIRK was screened at the Toronto International Film Festival as an extra-special event. This screening was held to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of IMAX, with Christopher Nolan, its director-writer-co-producer, in attendance and in a post-screening conversation.

"The Graduate" opened 50 years ago today.

When it premiered in December 1967, its filmmakers had only modest expectations for what seemed to be a small, sexy art-house comedy adapted from an obscure first novel by an eccentric twenty-four-year-old.

There was little indication that this offbeat story - a young man just out of college has an affair with one of his parents’ friends and then runs off with her daughter - would turn out to be a monster hit, with an extended run in theaters and seven Academy Award nominations.

Rob Edelman: Best “Pre-Fall” Films

Dec 18, 2017

For a year that began with endless new film releases that were outright clunkers, quite a few first-rate titles did end up arriving in movie houses prior to the fall movie season and the countless Academy Award contenders that debut annually at the Toronto, Venice, and Telluride film festivals. Indeed, the worthy 2017 films may be divided into two categories: those that came out before early September; and those that came out since early September.

Audrey Kupferberg: Three Bilboards And Lady Bird

Dec 15, 2017

For the first six or seven decades of the 20th Century, in Hollywood films, it often was the woman who was the dependent one, the character most likely to lay a head upon the shoulder of the male lead. The strength and goodness of so many traditional movie heroines have been measured by their sweetness, innate goodness, loyalty to romantic interests or husbands and children, and outstandingly good looks.

Rob Edelman: Happy End

Dec 11, 2017

HAPPY END, Michael Haneke’s latest work, which is just coming to theaters, is a film about ideas. It is a portrait of life in our contemporary culture, one that is awash in high-tech gadgetry. In this regard, HAPPY END deals with issues that are close to the heart of its writer-director, who is in his mid-seventies. In other words, Michael Haneke has been around long enough to have very strong opinions, very distinct and well-formed world views. 

Rob Edelman: Downsizing

Dec 4, 2017

A new Alexander Payne film is, for me, always something to anticipate. These days, few filmmakers combine artistry and concepts in ways that are special. Alexander Payne is one of them, and his latest work is titled DOWNSIZING. It momentarily will arrive in theaters and, despite its few faults, it is well-worth seeing and pondering.

Rob Edelman: The Shape Of Brilliance

Nov 27, 2017

I’ve said it before, and I will shout it from the top row in the largest movie house. THE SHAPE OF WATER, which momentarily will be coming to theaters, is not just one of the very best films of the year. It is one of the very best films of any year. There is so much to say about this extraordinary film. On one level, it is a fairy tale, set in Baltimore in 1962. Its central character is Eliza, a solitary young woman who is mute, and who is superbly played by Sally Hawkins. Eliza toils as a cleaning woman in a mysterious, high-security scientific laboratory where strange, indescribable events are occurring.

Rob Edelman: Politics And Presidents

Nov 20, 2017

Two current films deal with various aspects of politics American-style way back in the 1960‘s and ‘70s. Both center on the highest levels of the federal government. Both have their flaws, and some of them are quite deep, but they are well-worth mentioning, given their subject-matter.

Audrey Kupferberg: Films That Play With Time

Nov 17, 2017


For centuries poets and philosophers have warned about the cruelty of time.  We may not consider the influence of time on our lives very often, but once in a while a movie can remind us of the sheer power that time wields over our lives.  Two films bring this concept to mind, one from 1948 and the other from this year.  They are PORTRAIT OF JENNIE, a classic love story from producer David O. Selznick and director William Dieterle, based on a book by Robert Nathan— and MARJORIE PRIME, a recent release written and directed by Michael Almereyda from the play by Jordan Harrison.

Rob Edelman: Women And Men...

Nov 13, 2017

These days, cinematically-speaking, there is much emphasis on the unfair exploitation and much-overdue liberation of women. Quite a few such films were screened at the Toronto International Film Festival. Some were set in centuries past. MARY SHELLEY, for example, emphasizes the title character’s resolve to latch onto her individuality in a male-dominated society. Some were set in more recent times. BATTLE OF THE SEXES centers on the 1970s tennis match between Billie Jean King and super-chauvinistic Bobby Riggs. 

Rob Edelman: Greta Grows Up

Nov 6, 2017

Back in 2012, in a piece on Greta Gerwig, I observed that she was all over movie screens. She recently had appeared in Whit Stillman’s DAMSELS IN DISTRESS and Woody Allen’s TO ROME WITH LOVE, and what was so engaging about her was her naturalistic screen presence. She was appealingly at ease onscreen. Once the cameras rolled, it did not seem as if she was acting. She was just, well, becoming her characters. Most often, they were young women who were approaching or who had approached adulthood and, in a film titled FRANCES HA, which also dates from 2012, her character was, indeed, quintessential Greta Gerwig. Here, she co-scripted with the director, Noah Baumbach, and she played a twentysomething who was flitting through life, attempting to figure out her relationships and where she fits in. Ultimately, she was trying to learn how to be a grown-up. 

Rob Edelman: History Comes Alive

Oct 30, 2017

Documentaries come in a range of forms and shapes, and serve a host of purposes. Some of the more absorbing and overlooked highlight images that are nothing more than records of certain aspects of history. Two representative examples may be seen and appreciated on DVD. The first involves arctic exploration, and its title tells all. It is: VISITING WITH THE ESKIMOS OF THE FAR NORTH: SIX HISTORIC FILMS OF GREENLAND BY DONALD B. MACMILLAN, and it was produced by The Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum, located at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine.

Rob Edelman: Clooney In Suburbia

Oct 23, 2017

SUBURBICON, directed and co-scripted by George Clooney, actually is two films in one. It is a portrait of a post-World War II suburban America that is superficially ideal. Quite literally, it presents itself as heaven on earth. Its ever-smiling citizens are savoring a post-war and post-Depression prosperity. But of course they are Caucasian, and heaven forbid if an African-American family dares to intrude on their space simply by moving into their community.

Audrey Kupferberg: Dawson City - Frozen Time

Oct 20, 2017

Up until now, filmmaker Bill Morrison has been known for his art film DECASIA, which imdb.com rightly describes as “a meditation on the human quest to transcend physicality, constructed from decaying archival footage and set to an original symphonic score.”

Rob Edelman: Taviani’s Rainbow

Oct 16, 2017

Remember the Taviani brothers? More to the point: Whatever happened to the Taviani brothers? In recent years, what have Paolo and Vittorio Taviani been up to?

Rob Edelman: Ugly American

Oct 9, 2017

If you are an American-- or, if you are a certain type of American-- you may think that you are king of the world. You can show up in a part of the world whose citizens are struggling, are suffering, and present yourself as honest and well-intentioned, and win over these “foreigners” by making hollow promises.

Rob Edelman: Guillermo Del Toro Is A Mensch

Oct 2, 2017

Guillermo del Toro’s THE SHAPE OF WATER is not just one of the top films of 2017. It is one of the very best films of the second decade of the new century. And given the Mexican-born filmmaker’s fascination with creating on-screen fantasy, its scenario is not at all surprising. These days, a plethora of films examine romantic relationships between individuals of different backgrounds or races. However, THE SHAPE OF WATER, which is set in 1962, centers on the evolving romance between two characters who are, well, unique in their way and far-better seen than described. 

Audrey Kupferberg: Menashe

Sep 29, 2017

The film MENASHE, which is playing in theaters now, is a most unusual movie.  It’s unusual because its actors primarily speak Yiddish.  There are English subtitles, of course.  It’s unusual because it gives viewers an intimate look inside an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn—the sort of Hasidic community whose members seldom or never go to the movies.  It’s unusual because it’s a significant feature film that boasts first-time film actors and a director, Joshua Z. Weinstein, who never before helmed a feature film project.

Audrey Kupferberg: The Lost World

Sep 22, 2017

THE LOST WORLD.  It’s a Hollywood silent movie that first startled audiences in 1925 and has since proven to be a cult favorite for those who savor fantasy and science fiction genres.  In THE LOST WORLD, pterodactylus fly, and brontosaurus and stegosaurus roam.  The story, which stems from a novel by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, was written in 1912.  It is evidence that Conan Doyle’s appeal was not limited to Sherlock Holmes.  This story features two of Conan Doyle’s lesser-known but repeated characters, hot-tempered explorer Professor George Edward Challenger and his friend, adventurer and big-game hunter Sir John Roxton. 

Rob Edelman: Dupont’s Variete

Sep 18, 2017

Once upon a time, I was delighted to discover and savor a number of German silent films that date from the 1920s-- or, before the coming to power of Adolph Hitler. One of my favorites was VARIETE, released in 1925 and directed by E.A. Dupont. Across the years, all the other titles, from Fritz Lang’s METROPOLIS to F.W. Murnau’s THE LAST LAUGH to Josef von Sternberg’s THE BLUE ANGEL, have been screened in a range of venues. But one was conspicuously missing, and that was VARIETE. Happily, however, Kino Classics recently released VARIETE to home entertainment in a beautifully restored print that was culled from several international sources, and it truly is a pleasure to re-see and rediscover.

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