The fantasist: The comic art of Woody Allen

The fantasist: The comic art of Woody Allen

Everyone knows Woody Allen. At least, everyone thinks they know Woody Allen. His plumage is easily identifiable: horn-rimmed glasses, baggy suit, wispy hair, kvetching demeanor, ironic sense of humor, acute fear of death. As is his habitat: New York City, though recently he has flown as far afield as London, Barcelona, and Paris. His likes […]

Cinema at the Margins

Cinema at the Margins

Wheeler Winston Dixon’s Cinema at the Margins is an enlightening collection of essays and interviews. Wearing his encyclopedic knowledge lightly, Dixon shares his expert insights and research in an eloquent, eminently readable style. I chose to review his new book because its reference to the ‘margins’ held the enticing promise of new discoveries, and a […]

The Church of Paul Thomas Anderson

The Church of Paul Thomas Anderson

By the time he brought Revelation upon Los Angeles in the form of frog rain, Paul Thomas Anderson had already achieved a level of formal and thematic completeness in his body of work which is rare for any director, let alone one with only three films and thirty years of life behind him.

What the US can learn from Willy Wonka

What the US can learn from Willy Wonka

As any moviegoer knows, charismatic heroes of the screen often personify what we wish we could be or what we aspire to do. Legendary but believable heroes of film include Atticus Finch, Clarice Starling or Rick Blaine, for example. But when it comes to the films of the last few decades, contemporary leading characters generally […]

25 years later, ‘Adventures in Babysitting’ stands apart in the teen comedy genre

25 years later, ‘Adventures in Babysitting’ stands apart in the teen comedy genre

Given the recent surge of 1980s popular culture nostalgia, discussions of that decade’s iconic films unfailingly revert to the unique 1980s teen comedy genre, always dominated by the catalog of John Hughes. But sadly, some outstanding films from that era are overlooked or even forgotten, and all teen movies from this period seem to be […]

Stanley Kubrick: Master of Contradictions

Stanley Kubrick: Master of Contradictions

Who are the great American film directors? More to the point, who do we think are the great American film directors? Well, there’s Ford, of course, the Zeus of the American pantheon, by turns comic, epic, maudlin and humane. Then there’s Welles, the ill-fated genius, abused by producers but beloved of critics. Spielberg, even in […]

‘The Descendants’: A loving portrait of the 1 percent

‘The Descendants’: A loving portrait of the 1 percent

Ben Stiller’s 2001 male modeling comedy “Zoolander” was released just a few weeks after 9/11. It didn’t do well. The consensus was that a contemplative America wasn’t interested in such aggressive silliness. At its core, “The Descendants” seems equally at odds with the current national sentiment, yet it’s been widely celebrated. Much of the praise […]

‘The Artist’: More of the same

‘The Artist’: More of the same

I’m getting a little tired of seeing Jean Dujardin’s face. That I can say this about an actor I like so much reflects the degree of media saturation surrounding The Artist. For most of January, the same shot of Dujardin stared out at me every time I opened the arts section of a newspaper or […]

Nuance, subtext and poetry: A defense of ‘The Village’

Nuance, subtext and poetry: A defense of ‘The Village’

I feel sorry for M. Night Shyamalan. After “The Last Airbender” debacle and the graceless marketing scheme for “The Happening” as his first rated-R film, M. Night needs an overhaul, and maybe some kind-hearted praise for what he’s done right in his films. There is a divisiveness evident in nearly all of his films—you either […]

Dancing through hardship: Why ‘Happy Feet Two’ is better than you think

Dancing through hardship: Why ‘Happy Feet Two’ is better than you think

After five years to the day, George Miller continues his epic penguin odyssey in “Happy Feet Two,” and more than any recent film I have to say I’m befuddled and confused by the terrible reception it has received (although I have my theories on that, which I’ll shortly address) because while it does have its […]

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