cinema

I fell in love with the movies many years ago.  Going to see a film – even a sad drama – somehow left me with a feeling of empathy or a shared moment of humanity.  But a number of the art-house films of late 2016 with their emphasis on sadness and disillusionment simply leave me emotionally wrung out.

Rob Edelman: Barry Jenkins

Jan 16, 2017

Of all the fine films that won theatrical releases this past year, one title for me stands at the very top of the pack. That is MOONLIGHT, directed and written by Barry Jenkins. 

Rob Edelman: Hot Docs

Jan 9, 2017

I’ve said it before and I certainly will say it again: These days, an endless number of new documentaries examine a rainbow of subjects. Here are a few just-released or about-to-be-released-to-home-entertainment documentaries that have especially intrigued me. 

Rob Edelman: Bring Out The Old, Bring In The Old

Jan 2, 2017

Welcome to the New Year! And given an event that is set to occur in a few weeks-- on January 20th, to be exact-- this is as good a time as any to cite a film that came to theaters near the end of what now is last year. This film is scripted and directed by Warren Beatty, who also stars. Beatty soon will be celebrating his 80th birthday, and it is his first film in 15 years. The title is RULES DON’T APPLY and, given its central character, RULES DON’T APPLY is a perfect description for this film and its central character.

Rob Edelman: American War Films

Dec 26, 2016

Times change and the world changes but, in certain cases, nothing really changes. And this just may relate to the content of a film that has come to theaters this fall, and which offers a heartfelt ode to the American soldier in World War II. The film in question is HACKSAW RIDGE, directed by Mel Gibson, the fact-based tale of Desmond Doss, played by Andrew Garfield: a U.S. Army medic and conscientious objector who earned the Medal of Honor for his derring-do during World War II’s Battle of Okinawa.

Rob Edelman: Cinerama Spectacular

Dec 19, 2016

These days, not all home entertainment is rented, downloaded, streamed... Some consumers and film lovers still purchase DVDs and Blu-rays and, if you are looking for an unusual holiday gift, might I suggest two new-to-DVD and Blu-ray titles from Flicker Alley.

Audrey Kupferberg: Children Of Divorce

Dec 16, 2016

Flicker Alley, in partnership with the Blackhawk Films Collection, has just released the Blu-ray/DVD world premiere of a 1927 Hollywood feature, CHILDREN OF DIVORCE.  Working with preservationists from the Library of Congress, which holds the original nitrate negative and protection material on this title, and having these materials scanned in 4K resolution, Flicker Alley has presented the film in its very best form.  Plus, there is a new musical score by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra.

Rob Edelman: Boomerang!

Dec 12, 2016

These days, director Elia Kazan is best-remembered for his classic, highly influential 1950s features, including A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, ON THE WATERFRONT, and EAST OF EDEN. However, one of his earliest screen credits is too-often overlooked, but is well worth discovering. It is titled BOOMERANG!, it dates from 1947, and Kino Lorber recently released it to home entertainment.

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. 

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