Documentaries about artists confront the dual difficulty of illustrating the achievements of and providing insight into the individual under scrutiny. In that regard, director, producer and cinematographer Ben Shapiro offers a model of how to achieve success: listen to the artist and unobtrusively watch him work. When the subject is Gregory Crewdson, that is entirely sufficient.
Each year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences nominates short films in animation, live action and documentary categories. Fortunately for those of us eager to know Oscar contenders, Shorts International and Magnolia Pictures assemble the animated and live-action hopefuls into two programs for theatrical release. Of course, any compilation offers diversity, but all these selections merit their recognition.
This movie should be so much better. It squats solidly at the mediocre level, but, mercy! It should have been so much better, what with the proven actor, Dustin Hoffman, serving as director, and a roster of stars that should have sparkled all over the place.
Here's a crazy idea: Film some of the world's smallest, most delicate creatures, Monarch butterflies, in one of the world's largest film formats. Then spread those tiny creatures across a giant dome of a screen and hope it works to drop a caterpillar on heads of movie-goers.
Just as the song promises and "Broken City" delivers, New York, New York, is a "helluva town." Only, the movie, unlike the song, is dark and murderous and craven. "Broken City" posits that the Big Apple has a bad apple for a mayor, plus a killer cop, an adulterous First Lady, and thugs in every echelon of society.
A famous chapter in late 18th century Danish history drives writer/director Nikolaj Arcel’s "A Royal Affair." Taking the throne in 1766 at 17, King Christian VII’s reign involved the usual power struggles and betrayals, but Christian’s mental instability made his court particularly volatile, permitting his physician, Johann Friedrich Struensee to gain ascendant influence.
With barely a word spoken, "Les Miserables" is closer to operetta than splashy musical. The Broadway musical and the movie are based on Victor Hugo's 1862 novel about poverty, death, injustice and orphans who would become so famous.
Maybe if "Hyde Park on Hudson" had stuck with one main story, it would have succeeded, but in trying to tell two stories, and not telling either with clarity or purpose, the film becomes seriously flawed, although not less worthy of discussion as a film and history, albeit plastic.
Debbie and Pete were the secondary characters in "Knocked Up." Debbie served as the older, married sister to the character who became preggers after a one-night stand. Now, Debbie and Pete, and their two irrepressible daughters, are the main characters of "This Is 40," another film by Judd Apatow.
The controversial, impeccably made “Zero Dark Thirty” chronicling the hunt for Osama Bin Laden begins with a dark screen. As we hear alarmed voices crying out we realize it’s 9-11. Cut to scenes of a terrorist suspect subjected to various tortures—waterboarding, sleep deprivation, confinement in a small box—all in disturbing close-ups. CIA agent Maya observes, reacts, and comments.
"Rust and Bone" is a suggestive, curious title for an unusual film. Academy Award winner Marion Cotillard stars as Stéphanie, an orca whale trainer involved in a horrific accident. In a parallel and soon intersecting plotline, Matthias Schoenaerts is Ali, an unemployed, single father struggling to keep his and his five-year-old son Sam's lives on track.
Rarely has a book been so finely translated to the screen. By the same token, having not read the book will not alter appreciation for the film. "Life of Pi" is not just the story of a young man who weathers the elements in a lifeboat with a tiger, for, after all, that's unbelievable.
Instead of another slog through a 19th-century Russian novel, director Joe Wright presents a tantalizing melange of art forms -- theater and film and painting -- all enfolded by the words of famed playwright Tom Stoppard. It does not always succeed, but it always intrigues.
This is a complex biopic, not easily accessible without your doing some homework. It helps if you've visited the Lincoln Museum in Springfield, Ill. It helps, too, if you've studied the democratic process and know the ambiance of the rough House of Representatives, say, over that of the sedate Senate. Also helpful is an understanding of the parallel lines of the 13th Amendment and the peace treaty that ended our Civil War. "Lincoln" covers these areas while concentrating on Abraham Lincoln, the man of wit and wisdom.
“Promised Land” dramatizes the underhanded tactics of a fictional corporation determined to gain rights to drill for natural gas on farmers’ land. There’s a lot at stake for this rural community, and though the film wears its environmental heart on its sleeve, the debate about hydraulic fracturing (fracking) deserves the attention given here.
The title “Not Fade Away” for director David Chase’s affectionate reminiscence of 1960s music notes that bands and individuals come and go but great music will “Not Fade Away.” It thereby references Buddy Holly and The Rolling Stones, a perfect setup for a celebration of rock and roll: its evolution and its impact on a generation.
Remember news coverage of the December 26th, 2004 tsunami that struck Southeast Asia and the inconceivable devastation it wrought. Spanish director Juan Antonia Bayona’s “The Impossible” takes the experiences of one British family as a way to represent that tragedy with terrifying realism. More astonishing, the film tells the true story of the Spanish Belon family.
You're never seen another movie like "Holy Motors," and you're never going to again. The very concept is intriguing.
There is in the catalog of films a category of serious films about drunks. That leaves out "Hangover" and its sons, but it includes Michael Keaton's brilliant "Clean and Sober," Ray Milland's and Patricia Neal's "The Subject Was Roses," and Jack Lemmon's and Lee Remick's "Days of Wine and Roses." These are hard to watch movies, hard to sell, but unforgettable. Add to this list "Smashed," starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Aaron Paul.