rob edelman

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. 

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. 

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.

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.

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