rob edelman

Rob Edelman: Women And Men...

Nov 13, 2017

These days, cinematically-speaking, there is much emphasis on the unfair exploitation and much-overdue liberation of women. Quite a few such films were screened at the Toronto International Film Festival. Some were set in centuries past. MARY SHELLEY, for example, emphasizes the title character’s resolve to latch onto her individuality in a male-dominated society. Some were set in more recent times. BATTLE OF THE SEXES centers on the 1970s tennis match between Billie Jean King and super-chauvinistic Bobby Riggs. 

Rob Edelman: Greta Grows Up

Nov 6, 2017

Back in 2012, in a piece on Greta Gerwig, I observed that she was all over movie screens. She recently had appeared in Whit Stillman’s DAMSELS IN DISTRESS and Woody Allen’s TO ROME WITH LOVE, and what was so engaging about her was her naturalistic screen presence. She was appealingly at ease onscreen. Once the cameras rolled, it did not seem as if she was acting. She was just, well, becoming her characters. Most often, they were young women who were approaching or who had approached adulthood and, in a film titled FRANCES HA, which also dates from 2012, her character was, indeed, quintessential Greta Gerwig. Here, she co-scripted with the director, Noah Baumbach, and she played a twentysomething who was flitting through life, attempting to figure out her relationships and where she fits in. Ultimately, she was trying to learn how to be a grown-up. 

Rob Edelman: History Comes Alive

Oct 30, 2017

Documentaries come in a range of forms and shapes, and serve a host of purposes. Some of the more absorbing and overlooked highlight images that are nothing more than records of certain aspects of history. Two representative examples may be seen and appreciated on DVD. The first involves arctic exploration, and its title tells all. It is: VISITING WITH THE ESKIMOS OF THE FAR NORTH: SIX HISTORIC FILMS OF GREENLAND BY DONALD B. MACMILLAN, and it was produced by The Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum, located at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine.

Rob Edelman: Clooney In Suburbia

Oct 23, 2017

SUBURBICON, directed and co-scripted by George Clooney, actually is two films in one. It is a portrait of a post-World War II suburban America that is superficially ideal. Quite literally, it presents itself as heaven on earth. Its ever-smiling citizens are savoring a post-war and post-Depression prosperity. But of course they are Caucasian, and heaven forbid if an African-American family dares to intrude on their space simply by moving into their community.

Rob Edelman: Taviani’s Rainbow

Oct 16, 2017

Remember the Taviani brothers? More to the point: Whatever happened to the Taviani brothers? In recent years, what have Paolo and Vittorio Taviani been up to?

Rob Edelman: Ugly American

Oct 9, 2017

If you are an American-- or, if you are a certain type of American-- you may think that you are king of the world. You can show up in a part of the world whose citizens are struggling, are suffering, and present yourself as honest and well-intentioned, and win over these “foreigners” by making hollow promises.

Rob Edelman: Guillermo Del Toro Is A Mensch

Oct 2, 2017

Guillermo del Toro’s THE SHAPE OF WATER is not just one of the top films of 2017. It is one of the very best films of the second decade of the new century. And given the Mexican-born filmmaker’s fascination with creating on-screen fantasy, its scenario is not at all surprising. These days, a plethora of films examine romantic relationships between individuals of different backgrounds or races. However, THE SHAPE OF WATER, which is set in 1962, centers on the evolving romance between two characters who are, well, unique in their way and far-better seen than described. 

Rob Edelman: Toronto Overview

Sep 25, 2017

The Toronto International Film Festival, which I attend every year, usually serves as a mirror of the current international film scene. This year was no different. On one level, quite a few 2017 Academy Award hopefuls were trotted out, which usually is the case in Toronto as well as the Venice and Telluride festivals. Usually, they are big-name titles made by big-name directors and featuring big-name stars.

Rob Edelman: Dupont’s Variete

Sep 18, 2017

Once upon a time, I was delighted to discover and savor a number of German silent films that date from the 1920s-- or, before the coming to power of Adolph Hitler. One of my favorites was VARIETE, released in 1925 and directed by E.A. Dupont. Across the years, all the other titles, from Fritz Lang’s METROPOLIS to F.W. Murnau’s THE LAST LAUGH to Josef von Sternberg’s THE BLUE ANGEL, have been screened in a range of venues. But one was conspicuously missing, and that was VARIETE. Happily, however, Kino Classics recently released VARIETE to home entertainment in a beautifully restored print that was culled from several international sources, and it truly is a pleasure to re-see and rediscover.

In September and October, New York’s Film Forum will be screening three silent features, all of which highlight the legendary Louise Brooks. Two titles-- PANDORA’S BOX and DIARY OF A LOST GIRL, both shot in Germany by G.W. Pabst-- are classics that have long-been seen and cherished. But the third feature also is well-worth discovering. It is an American film, directed by William A. Wellman and released in 1928. Its title is BEGGARS OF LIFE, and it joins such late-silent-era American classics as THE CROWD and SUNRISE as genuine works of cinematic art. If trekking into Manhattan to take in one of the BEGGARS OF LIFE screenings is impractical, Kino Lorber has just released the film to home entertainment.

Rob Edelman: Women Filmmakers

Sep 4, 2017

A number of years ago, I was delighted to come upon a giant poster for AMELIA, which then was a just-released celluloid biography of Amelia Earhart, the legendary American aviator whose mysterious disappearance while flying over the Pacific Ocean in 1937 recently was back in the news. I have long been fascinated by the life of Amelia Earhart. However, after noticing that the film was directed by a woman-- Mira Nair-- I got to thinking about the choices made by women filmmakers. And I still do, to this day.

Rob Edelman: Jerry Lewis

Aug 28, 2017

Upon the death of the legendary Jerry Lewis, much was made of his comic genius, his career with Dean Martin, his Labor Day muscular dystrophy telethons, and his signature onscreen appearances in THE GEISHA BOY, THE BELLBOY, THE ERRAND BOY and, in particular, THE NUTTY PROFESSOR. Yet there are other aspects of the life and career of Jerry Lewis that should not be overlooked. As with many comedians and comic actors, he was more than capable of offering powerful and unusual dramatic performances. One example is his on-target presence in a television reworking of THE JAZZ SINGER, which once upon a time was a landmark motion picture.

Rob Edelman: Journalism 101

Aug 21, 2017

Recently, a pair of comments made by Paul LePage, the governor of Maine, was much-quoted in the media. They spotlighted his disdain for journalism and journalists. LePage’s opening salvo was: “I just love to sit in my office and make up ways so they’ll write these stupid stories because they are just so stupid...” In a follow-up comment, LePage noted: “The sooner the print press goes away, the better society will be.”

Rob Edelman: America’s “Enemies”

Aug 14, 2017

These days, it appears that Russia seemingly has become America’s best buddy. Upon meeting publicly with Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump shook his hand and declared: “It’s an honor to be with you.”

Rob Edelman: Garfield’s Breaking Point

Aug 7, 2017

The career of one of the great, unsung Hollywood actors is being spotlighted this month with the DVD and Blu-Ray Criterion Collection release of one of his lesser-known, underrated films. The actor is John Garfield and the film, which dates from 1950, is THE BREAKING POINT.

These days, “immigrant” and “immigration” have become dirty words among certain segments of the American populace. If your surname is what some Americans judge to be a “funny” name, or an “UnAmerican” name, well, the person with the surname is not to be trusted. 

Rob Edelman: Get Out...And Stay Out

Jul 24, 2017

Back in 1967-- that would be a half-century ago-- a mainstream Hollywood film came to movie houses. That film was GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER, and its stars are Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, and Sidney Poitier. GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER dealt with a subject that was highly controversial five decades ago. In fact, in some states, it would have been illegal. That subject is intermarriage, and GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER is the story of a black man and white woman who have just met, and have fallen in love and wish to marry. The film charts the responses to this news by both sets of parents, and GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER ends on a hopeful note. At the finale, the characters sit down, relax, and share conversation and a meal-- and the point is that individuals from different races can be friends. They can spend time together and, perhaps, they even might fall in love.

Rob Edelman: An Inconvenient Truth, Part 2

Jul 17, 2017

It is at once unsurprising and refreshing that, just as President Trump trumpeted his decision to pull the United States out of the Paris climate agreement, announcement came of the upcoming release of a sequel to what arguably is the most celebrated and influential climate change documentary. That film is AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH, and it was released in 2006.

Rob Edelman: Big Screen Boxing Biopics

Jul 10, 2017

Recently, a spate of biopics about boxers have punched their way onto movie screens. Two were released last year. In BLEED FOR THIS, Miles Teller proves he is a multifaceted actor, playing Vinny Pazienza, an obsessive, loudmouthed pugilist who sustains a broken neck in a car accident but still eventually continues his career in the ring. HANDS OF STONE features Edgar Ramirez, another fine actor who is not as well-known among the masses as he deserves. Here, Ramirez plays cocky, hotheaded Roberto Duran, with Robert De Niro cast as his coach and mentor, Ray Arcel. De Niro, of course, starred as Jake LaMotta in RAGING BULL once upon a time. Deservedly, RAGING BULL remains atop many critics’ lists as the top film of the 1980s.

Rob Edelman: Way Before Ellen

Jul 3, 2017

If you are of a certain age, you might remember THE MANY LOVES OF DOBIE GILLIS, the popular hit TV sitcom of the very late 1950s and early 1960s. But Dobie Gillis, the title character played by Dwayne Hickman, and his pal Maynard G. Krebs, the beatnik caricature immortalized by Bob Denver, were not the show’s lone memorable characters. Surely, one of them was Zelda Gilroy, the pony-tailed, comically obsessive high schooler who was forever in love with the otherwise disinterested Dobie, who was completely fixated on beautiful blonde Thalia Meninger, played by Tuesday Weld.   

“New American Cinema” is a fitting title for one of my favorite film courses, one which I have long-taught. Its content is described in its course description, which begins: “During the late 1960s and early 1970s, great social changes were occurring in the United States. These changes were sparked by the emerging youth culture, the progression of the Civil Rights Movement, opposition to the war in Vietnam, and the advent of the modern-era feminist movement. This course will explore the manner in which these changes impacted on the American cinema.” 

Rob Edelman: Tom Cruise, Mummified

Jun 19, 2017

Once upon a time, Tom Cruise was a mega-movie star. His hit films, including RISKY BUSINESS, TOP GUN, and JERRY MAGUIRE, were high-powered, popular entertainments, and he demonstrated his depth as an actor by embracing roles in serious films, important films. These include THE COLOR OF MONEY, opposite Paul Newman; RAIN MAN, with Dustin Hoffman; EYES WIDE SHUT, the final directorial credit in the estimable career of Stanley Kubrick; and Oliver Stone’s BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY. 

Rob Edelman: Hitchcock On A Lifeboat

Jun 12, 2017

For years, I’ve been keeping up with the newest films for reasons that are as much work-related as for the thrill of discovery. However, if I choose a film to see and savor just for pleasure, my choice likely would be one that is older than I am. Often, it will be much older... and this brings me to Alfred Hitchcock.

These days, the majority of theatrical films that come out of Hollywood are fashioned for children, teens, or twenty and perhaps thirty-somethings. The reason for this is obvious. They are the core consumers who abandon their TV sets and computers and willingly pay to watch a new movie at the local mall. But how do film producers lure the older viewer, the aging Baby Boomer, to the movie theater? Should this segment of the population simply be ignored? Will it be assumed that they are content merely to couch-potato it at home, gaze at the endless drug ads that overpopulate their TV screens, and spend all their savings on the latest medical miracles? Or are filmmakers willing to produce product that just may be of special interest to older viewers?

Rob Edelman: The Misuse Of Power

May 29, 2017

ABACUS: SMALL ENOUGH TO JAIL is yet one more telling documentary that reflects on the misuse of power in contemporary America, and who specifically gets singled out for the alleged misuse of power. It has just been released theatrically, and it is well-worth seeing and contemplating.

Rob Edelman: Lost Cities On Screen

May 22, 2017

In recent years, so many filmmakers establish themselves by writing and directing eye-opening independently-funded films that are issue-oriented, or that feature challenging characters and top-notch storytelling. Inevitably, some-- but not all-- graduate to big-budget Hollywood product that are loaded with special effects. Why does this happen? Is it because these filmmakers are film artists who yearn to expand their creativity? Or is it all about money? These days, the high-profile special effects-laden films that sacrifice storytelling and character development are the ones that usually lasso in more viewers and bigger bucks during their theatrical play. A film in which storytelling is king, no matter how well-reviewed that film is, will at best draw in a fraction of viewers.

Rob Edelman: Five Came Back

May 15, 2017

Once upon a time-- 1939, to be exact-- FIVE CAME BACK was the title of a now-long-forgotten melodrama about a bunch of plane crash survivors who are stranded in a jungle. One of its cast members was a very pre-I LOVE LUCY Lucille Ball.

Rob Edelman: The Penguin Counters

May 8, 2017

So far in 2017, the vast majority of new films I’ve seen have been disappointing and instantly forgettable, if not downright awful. I’ll skip citing the truly dreadful titles. However, even those that have some value are deeply flawed.

Rob Edelman: Gifted Children

May 1, 2017

In GIFTED, a new feature that has just been released to theaters, a six-year-old girl whose mother has committed suicide becomes immersed in a custody battle between her uncle, who has been raising her, and her grandmother. The fact that she is a math wizard, a child prodigy, is irrelevant. She still is a kid, and her feelings, fears, and needs are fleshed out onscreen.

Rob Edelman: 2017, Going In Style, Old And New

Apr 24, 2017

Back in 1979-- that’s almost four decades ago, for those who are counting-- the original GOING IN STYLE was released. The stars are three then, and still, legendary actors. George Burns, Lee Strasberg, and Art Carney play elderly working class retirees who, as much to break the dreary routine of their lives, decide to pull off a bank heist. This GOING IN STYLE is not just a zany tale of novice if elderly Clyde Barrows, or even a message film about how the aged are shunted aside by society once they no longer are workers or consumers. It also reflects on the reality that, even if one might come into a million dollars-- today, that figure would be more like 10 or 20 million dollars-- one will be unable to buy a cure for old age.

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