cinema

Audrey Kupferberg: World War I On Film

20 hours ago

It has been exactly 100 years since the United States entered World War I.  To commemorate the event, PBS recently debuted THE GREAT WAR, a 6-hour documentary as part of its ongoing American Experience series.  It was called The Great War back then, because nobody had the farsightedness to predict that there would be a Second World War.  In addition to this nonfiction interpretation of the war, two feature films offering very different accounts of the Great War have been made available.

Rob Edelman: Hail YouTube

Apr 17, 2017

The recent passing of Mary Tyler Moore led me to watch-- and savor-- episodes on YouTube of THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW, her classic early-1960s TV sitcom. At this time, Mary Tyler Moore was one of the most beloved and respected women in America. She exuded a “Camelot”-style class and, in this regard, was second only in popularity to Jacqueline Kennedy.

Rob Edelman: Special Effects, 1930s-Style

Apr 10, 2017

These days, so many movies rely on special effects to draw in and dazzle audiences. But onscreen effects are not late-20th or early-21st-century phenomena. For indeed, they have evolved across the decades. You can go back to the 1930s, for example, and marvel at the effects employed in such classic films as SAN FRANCISCO, THE GOOD EARTH, and the original KING KONG. Respectively, they feature eye-opening images of Clark Gable and Jeanette MacDonald surviving the 1906 San Francisco earthquake; Paul Muni, Louise Rainer, and a locust plague in China; and, most famously, the title ape toying with Fay Wray while cavorting atop the Empire State Building.

Rob Edelman: The Brand New Testament

Apr 3, 2017

I see countless films at festivals and press screenings and during their theatrical runs. But I do not see every film. So when I discover and am enamored of a title that I somehow had missed, it is an extra-special treat. One such film is THE BRAND NEW TESTAMENT, directed by Belgian filmmaker Jaco Van Dormael, which has just been released to home entertainment.

Rob Edelman: Stephen K. Bannon, Filmmaker

Mar 27, 2017

To many, Steve Bannon, who appears to be President Donald Trump’s confidante and right-hand-man, is a mystery man. Now sure, he has been endlessly cited in the media but, still, the question of the moment remains: Who exactly is Steve Bannon?

Audrey Kupferberg: London Road And Happy Street

Mar 17, 2017

The film version of the hit British stage musical London Road, written by Alecky Blythe, recently was made available to home markets.  Both the play and its screen version are performed in an unusual and rather surprising form of musical entertainment called verbatim theatre.  This approach to musical theater, and as it extends to film musicals, presents interpretations of true events in a documentary style.  The lyrics are constructed from words spoken by the real-life participants.  The music reflects the inflections of the voices which originally spoke the words.   Most likely, viewers will not go to sleep humming the tunes of LONDON ROAD.

Rob Edelman: Biography And Truth

Mar 13, 2017

This past year, as in just about every recent year, a spate of films have been released which purport to chart the lives of real people. A list of biopics from 2016 only begins with FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS and JACKIE, HACKSAW RIDGE and HANDS OF STONE and HIDDEN FIGURES, LOVING and LION, SOUTHSIDE WITH YOU and SULLY and SNOWDEN, DENIAL and GENIUS, RULES DON’T APPLY and THE BIRTH OF A NATION and so many others. Plus, the new year has started off with THE FOUNDER.

Rob Edelman: Tom Hanks, 2016

Mar 6, 2017

Among actors who are decades past their twentysomething years, Tom Hanks remains a popular and even iconic movie star. Last year, Hanks toplined three mainstream films, each directed by a name filmmaker. None were outstanding. None were Academy Award-worthy. Two were at best nicely done and one was hugely disappointing but, taken together, all three offer thoughtful reflections of our world and our culture in 2016 and the new year.

Rob Edelman: Robert De Niro, Comedian

Feb 27, 2017

I was initially intrigued by the idea of seeing and hopefully enjoying THE COMEDIAN, the latest Robert De Niro film, in which he plays an aging, foul-mouthed insult comic. Other bonuses surely would be its attractive supporting cast, from Danny De Vito to Cloris Leachman, Charles Grodin to Edie Falco to Patti LuPone. Not to mention Harvey Keitel, who appeared with De Niro an eternity ago in MEAN STREETS and TAXI DRIVER. And then there are the famous faces and names-- the most prominent is Billy Crystal-- who show up as themselves.

Rob Edelman: Oscars and Journalists

Feb 20, 2017

Momentarily, the latest Academy Award ceremony will be at center stage. Combine this with a new U.S. president who has declared war on the media, and it is well-worth recalling that the Best Picture Oscar winner from just a year ago celebrates the importance of journalism in a free society. That film is SPOTLIGHT, and it is the fact-based tale of reporters who doggedly knock on doors and ask questions, all in a search for truth. The bottom line in SPOTLIGHT is that, if not for the tenaciousness of the Boston Globe journalists presented in the film, would we ever have known about the long, distressing history of a massive scandal involving the sexual abuse of children and its cover-up within the local Catholic Archdiocese?

Audrey Kupferberg: Hidden Figures And 20th Century Women

Feb 17, 2017

In so many ways, we look at feature films as means of expressing our aspirations.  We want films to mirror the best in us.   People of various philosophies differ in which character traits they want defined in films.  As a woman with a feminist philosophy, I relish films that depict independent-thinking women who strive to lead full and meaningful lives.  

Rob Edelman: Withdrawn

Feb 13, 2017

Purely by chance, the first 2017 film I happened to view in the new year just may be a portrait of our world in 2017. And it is not a pretty picture. The film is titled WITHDRAWN. It is a low-budget independent production from Canada, and it was screened at the Slamdance Film Festival.

Rob Edelman: Speed Sisters

Feb 6, 2017

SPEED SISTERS, an eye-opening documentary that has just been released theatrically here in the U.S., opens with a familiar sight... if you are a racing fan. Drivers rev their engines, just before maneuvering their vehicles onto a racetrack. But there is something different here, something unusual and, to my mind, something extra-special. The drivers all are female, and they are Palestinian.

Several points can be gleaned from the recent deaths, one day apart, of the legendary Debbie Reynolds and her daughter, the equally celebrated Carrie Fisher. First, we may adore our celebrities. We may envy their wealth and fame and wish we could be as universally beloved as they are. But still, they are human beings with human needs and feelings-- and anyone who has ever lost a child will be able to comprehend the sheer horror that Debbie Reynolds must have felt upon learning that her daughter has passed. So all the money, all the fame, all the awards and honors and Red Carpet appearances will not separate you from the everyday ravages of life. 

Rob Edelman: Scorsese’s Silence

Jan 23, 2017

Other than documentaries and other odds and ends, Martin Scorsese’s films may be divided into two distinct categories. First, there are the big, flashy, splashy titles, from MEAN STREETS and TAXI DRIVER in the 1970s to THE WOLF OF WALL STREET four years ago. Then there are the quieter, more introspective films, including KUNDUN and THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST, which examine various aspects of religion. And you can add to the second list SILENCE, Scorsese’s latest. The words that come to mind to describe SILENCE are: intense; serious; and sobering.

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.

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