cinema

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.   

Rob Edelman: Post-war Pitfall

Jan 11, 2016

Certain vintage films are classic films. They are revered by film connoisseurs and regularly are cited on lists of the all-time-great dramas, comedies, or romances. But some older films, while not deserving of classic status, still are worth discovering because they offer insight into the time in which they were made. Plus, they are solidly entertaining.

These days, animated films are especially popular among younger audiences, and so it is no surprise that movie theaters are flooded with a range of feature-length cartoons. But not all animated works are fashioned for young children. In fact, two of the very best not only are clever and challenging and way beyond the reach of grade schoolers, but they fit right in on any cineaste’s ten-best films list for the just-concluded year.

Rob Edelman: Chimes At Midnight And Orson Welles

Dec 28, 2015

Back in September, I reported the following in my film commentary: “Whenever I’m in London-- and that is as often as possible-- one of my favorite haunts is BFI Southbank, formerly known as the National Film Theatre. One of the highlights of my most recent trip was attending a screening of Orson Welles’ CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT, also known as FALSTAFF, which dates from 1966. Before the screening, Simon Callow, actor/director/Welles scholar extraordinaire, was on hand to discuss Welles’ career in the theater. Callow did not so much lecture as perform, and it was a special treat to listen to this witty, articulate man and soak in his vast knowledge of Orson Welles. And in addition, Keith Baxter, one of the surviving cast members, was there to introduce the film and take post-screening questions and answers.”

Rob Edelman: Holiday Fare

Dec 21, 2015

Looking for a few good films to enjoy during the holiday season? Well, it's easy to cite such traditional fare as A CHRISTMAS STORY, MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET, HOLIDAY INN, WHITE CHRISTMAS, CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT, and the various versions of A CHRISTMAS CAROL, among many others. But there are other films to be discovered and savored.

Audrey Kupferberg: The Girl King

Dec 18, 2015

New to DVD and streaming this month is an oddly disappointing film called THE GIRL KING.  The feature, produced and directed by Finnish filmmaker Mika Kaurismaki, has an exciting story to tell, but THE GIRL KING provides little excitement as it relates the unusual life of 17th Century Swedish Queen Kristina.

Rob Edelman: Son Of Saul, Etc.

Dec 14, 2015

As each year passes, time increasingly separates us from the events in Europe during the 1930s and 40s and, specifically, World War II and the Holocaust. The youngest concentration camp survivors now are elderly and the question is: Will the Holocaust simply fade into history? Will it be at all remembered? And if so, how so?

Rob Edelman: Youth

Dec 7, 2015

These days, so many films explore issues relating to young people: teens or twentysomethings who are coming of age, or falling in love, or seeking their place in the world. This is not surprising given the ages of the majority of contemporary moviegoers. But still, there are films that center on the lives of older folks. This list only begins with THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL and its sequel; ELSA & FRED, starring Shirley MacLaine and Christopher Plummer; and 5 FLIGHTS UP, also known as RUTH & ALEX, with Diane Keaton and Morgan Freeman.

Rob Edelman: Hitchcock Truffaut

Nov 30, 2015

In recent years, there’s been an explosion of new documentaries highlighting a host of subjects. This year, quite a few have been biographical in nature. Two high-profile titles, which have earned heaps of PR, deal with the lives and fates of very different young women. The first is AMY, a biography of Amy Winehouse. Then there is HE NAMED ME MALALA, the tale of the Pakistani schoolgirl who was harassed by the Taliban after speaking out in favor of the rights of girls to attend school.

One-hundred years ago, renowned American actor William Gillette stood before the cameras at the Essanay Studios in Chicago to make a celluloid record of his celebrated stage performance as Sherlock Holmes. The play was based on four of the popular Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and was adapted by Gillette with the author’s blessing.  Gillette played the legendary fictional detective on stage 1300 times from 1899 to 1932. He acted the character wearing the deerstalker cap and smoking the large, curved pipe, according to 19th century illustrations by Sidney Paget in the Strand Magazine.

Rob Edelman: Frame By Frame

Nov 23, 2015

Here in the United States, a free press is an accepted fact of life. A reporter can research a story and an editor can print that story, however controversial, while a writer can offer an opinion in a column on an editorial page-- and this can be done without fear that those they are accusing or exposing will use their power to permanently silence them. Of course, however, such is not the case in other parts of the world: a sorry reality that is emphasized in FRAME BY FRAME, a sobering, illuminating documentary that has just been released theatrically.

Pages