rob edelman

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.

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: Indian Point

Jul 25, 2016

At this time of the year, escapism rules in movie theaters. And this is understandable. It’s the summer, and people are searching for summer fun. Now granted, some seasonal theatrical releases are satisfying, but it’s been my experience that the majority are not. Yet the point here is that films that tackle serious issues are occasionally arriving onscreen. One of them, a documentary titled INDIAN POINT, not only is information-packed and provocative, but it is a film with a local connection.

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.

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.

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.

Rob Edelman: Elvis And Nixon

May 23, 2016

These days, biopics are all the rage. During one recent week, a number of films screening at the Spectrum, the local Albany art house, featured actors playing such diverse personalities as Ernest Hemingway, Miles Davis, Elvis Presley, and Richard Nixon.

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.

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: Hail Joel And Ethan Coen

Mar 21, 2016

In HAIL, CAESAR!, which came to movie theaters last month, Joel and Ethan Coen offer a knowing parody of Hollywood and movie industry types as they existed 60-plus years ago. You have pretty faces, both male and female, who are superstar personalities. But once the cameras stop rolling, they are crass, pushy, or laughably thickheaded. Is this any different from some of those in the current celebrity set? Well, your guess is as good as mine.


One might wonder why there is a “very long wait” if you are a Netflix subscriber and you wish to take a look at MY X-GIRLFRIEND’S WEDDING RECEPTION, an obscure low-budget comedy that dates from 1999. Surely, it is not because of the film’s cast, which includes Debbie Gibson, Dom DeLuise, Mo Gaffney, and a load of unfamiliar names. And surely, it is unrelated to one’s desire to be entertained by the very early screen appearances of future Oscar winners and superstars. If you wish, you can savor, for example, young unknown Renée Zellweger and Matthew McConaughey costarring in TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: THE NEXT GENERATION. You can goof on the great George Clooney and his presences in RETURN TO HORROR HIGH and RETURN OF THE KILLER TOMATOES!

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.

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. 

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