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cinema

Audrey Kupferberg: The Girl King

Dec 18, 2015

New to DVD and streaming this month is an oddly disappointing film called THE GIRL KING.  The feature, produced and directed by Finnish filmmaker Mika Kaurismaki, has an exciting story to tell, but THE GIRL KING provides little excitement as it relates the unusual life of 17th Century Swedish Queen Kristina.

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.

Rob Edelman: Hitchcock Truffaut

Nov 30, 2015

In recent years, there’s been an explosion of new documentaries highlighting a host of subjects. This year, quite a few have been biographical in nature. Two high-profile titles, which have earned heaps of PR, deal with the lives and fates of very different young women. The first is AMY, a biography of Amy Winehouse. Then there is HE NAMED ME MALALA, the tale of the Pakistani schoolgirl who was harassed by the Taliban after speaking out in favor of the rights of girls to attend school.

One-hundred years ago, renowned American actor William Gillette stood before the cameras at the Essanay Studios in Chicago to make a celluloid record of his celebrated stage performance as Sherlock Holmes. The play was based on four of the popular Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and was adapted by Gillette with the author’s blessing.  Gillette played the legendary fictional detective on stage 1300 times from 1899 to 1932. He acted the character wearing the deerstalker cap and smoking the large, curved pipe, according to 19th century illustrations by Sidney Paget in the Strand Magazine.

Rob Edelman: Frame By Frame

Nov 23, 2015

Here in the United States, a free press is an accepted fact of life. A reporter can research a story and an editor can print that story, however controversial, while a writer can offer an opinion in a column on an editorial page-- and this can be done without fear that those they are accusing or exposing will use their power to permanently silence them. Of course, however, such is not the case in other parts of the world: a sorry reality that is emphasized in FRAME BY FRAME, a sobering, illuminating documentary that has just been released theatrically.

Rob Edelman: Girls Lost

Nov 16, 2015

If you go back through movie history, you’ll note that countless films from certain periods and cultures mirror those periods and cultures in innumerable ways. So it is not surprising that, in 2015, so many films deal with gender issues and sexual identity, not to mention the belief that all men and all women are created equal no matter their sexual orientation.

Rob Edelman: Trumbo

Nov 9, 2015

A film can be mediocre at best and, cinematically-speaking, it can be instantly forgettable. But given its subject and its take on history, this same film can be well worth seeing and contemplating. In other words, the film in question just may be a valuable learning tool.

Rob Edelman: Two Films

Oct 26, 2015

A film with a high pedigree and the best of intentions may be briefly unveiled at a film festival or two before making its bow in theaters. The purpose of the festival exposure is to grab the attention of the media and win the applause of audiences, with the hope of garnering tons of positive press and Academy Award consideration. Meanwhile, another film that does not have a certain pedigree also may be screened at the same festival. However, because of its lack of star power or the fact that its dialogue is in most any language but English, this film will languish on the festival circuit for quite a while in the hope of attracting audiences and earning a U.S. theatrical distributor, let alone winning an Oscar nod.

Audrey Kupferberg: Lion's Love

Oct 16, 2015

A newly-released DVD set of forgotten classics from the Criterion Collection, Eclipse Series 43: Agnès Varda in California, includes a real gem of late 1960s independent filmmaking.  It is LION’S LOVE, shot in sunny Los Angeles during the somewhat grim month of June 1968.  LION’S LOVE is not a conventional narrative film.  Then again, Agnes Varda is no conventional filmmaker.

Rob Edelman: Film Festivals, Film Distribution

Oct 12, 2015

These days, plenty of films that play at festivals-- the most recent one I’ve attended is the Toronto fest-- are way under the radar. They make the rounds of the festival circuit, often for months and occasionally even for a couple years, with the intention of earning critical kudos, garnering audience praise, and grabbing the attention of distributors. But for a range of reasons, finding a U.S. distributor will be difficult if not impossible. Certainly, if a film is not American-made, it will end up with little or no theatrical distribution outside its maker’s home country.

Rob Edelman: Jafar Panahi’s Taxi

Oct 6, 2015

Certain filmmakers have long-appealed to me for their sensitivity, their sustained brilliance, and the subjects they choose to tackle-- often daringly. One of them is Jafar Panahi. I admire this Iranian filmmaker not only because he is a courageous artist who offers insightful portrayals of the world in which he lives and the people in it. What makes him special is that he has managed to keep making films even though, five years ago, he was arrested and jailed temporarily for “colluding with the intention to commit crimes against the country’s national security and propaganda against the Islamic Republic.” Panahi was banned from making films for two decades, but he still has managed to do so-- and he has been working on projects that explore the political repression that exists in his homeland.

Rob Edelman: Mel Brooks, An Appreciation

Oct 5, 2015

Mel Brooks is a funny man. And he also is a renaissance man. In a career that has lasted longer than a lifetime, he has penned film scripts and written for the stage and television. He has produced films and directed films, and he has acted on both the big and small screens. Happily, Brooks will be appearing in person and in conversation at Proctors in Schenectady on Friday evening, October 16. Also screening at Proctors will be BLAZING SADDLES, one of Brooks’ all-time-favorite films.

Rod Edelman: Toronto Overview, Part 2

Sep 28, 2015

Each year, a smorgasbord of films are screened at the Toronto Film Festival. They include Canadian and other foreign-to-the-U.S. titles, low-budget independents, documentaries, and so forth. But these days, the films that garner the most attention are the big-budget, highly anticipated titles that feature top-of-the-line talent. Of course, the producers of these films are praying that their titles will charm the international critics and emerge from the fest with positive buzz and Academy Award hopes.

Rob Edelman: Toronto Overview, Part 1

Sep 21, 2015

After months of mostly dismal movie-going, the fall film season is upon us and, as is the case every year, so many new films are invading the film festivals. Some are heavy hitters with Oscar dreams. Others are less-high-profile titles that are jockeying for attention. And this year, happily, so many of them are outstanding. In fact, for every disappointing film I saw at this year’s Toronto Film Festival, there were quite a few that were exceptional.

Audrey Kupferberg: The Epic Of Everest

Sep 18, 2015

The early 20th century was a time when exploration reflected feelings of nationalist pride and the concept of man versus nature. So much of this activity coincided with the development of motion pictures. As North American, British, and European men—and a few women-- took to remote areas of the world on foot and in land and air vehicles , they brought with them moving picture cameras and still photographic equipment in order to record remote lands and peoples never seen by what they considered to be the civilized world.

Rob Edelman: Chiwetel Ejiofor

Sep 14, 2015

So many actors who start out on the stage abandon their roots once they hit it big on the big screen. A classic example is Marlon Brando. After becoming a Big Name on Broadway in 1947, originating the role of Stanley Kowalski in Tennessee Williams’ A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, Brando headed for Hollywood and forever left the theater.

Rob Edelman: London Movie-Going, British Noir

Sep 7, 2015

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: 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. 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: Female Sexuality

Aug 31, 2015

THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL, new to theaters, offers a take on teen sexuality that is, well, different. So many films that spotlight the growing pains and yearnings of high school-age youngsters center on males, with their female counterparts presented as little more than stereotypically unobtainable trophies. In other words, the only teens with sex drives are the boys. The girls too often are the fantasy figures. They either are pretty virgins who do little more than smile sweetly or sluts with large breasts who are the personal property of the school football star.

Rob Edelman: Best Of The Summer

Aug 24, 2015

It’s been my experience this summer that genuinely challenging or just-plain enjoyable newly-released films have been pretty scarce. There are exceptions here. Among them are LOVE & MERCY, MISTRESS AMERICA, and THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL. Still, as the season nears its end, one must wait in anticipation for the fall releases that either premiered at the Cannes Film Festival this spring or momentarily will be debuting at the Toronto, Venice, and Telluride festivals.

Rob Edelman: Politicians, Real And Made-Up

Aug 17, 2015

Dennis Hastert. Dean Skelos. Sheldon Silver. And who knows how many others... Why is it that, whenever there is breaking news about a politician who is arrested, indicted, or under investigation, our immediate response more than likely is: “So what else is new?” And why do we become so immersed in HOUSE OF CARDS, the frequently riveting Netflix series, and knowingly nod our heads over the behavior of Francis Underwood, played by Kevin Spacey: a manipulative, power-hungry American politician?

Rob Edelman: John Garfield

Aug 10, 2015

John Garfield, a screen and stage star whose career was tragically cut short by illness and the Hollywood blacklist, is one of film history’s too-often unrecognized talents. HE RAN ALL THE WAY, a lesser-known but nonetheless compelling Garfield feature, has just been released on DVD and Blu-ray. The film dates from 1951, and is the actor’s celluloid swan song. He was felled by a heart attack the following year, at an all-too-young age.

Rob Edelman: Listen To Me Marlon

Jul 20, 2015

In our culture, many of us who are living otherwise ordinary lives seek vicarious thrills via the adoration of celebrities. Those who embrace this kind of fandom devour the tabloid newspapers and magazines that “report” on celebrity scandals, real or imagined. I must add here that, on one-too-many occasions, people who should know better have name-dropped celebs they might have met at a party or a premiere, as if this sort of thing would impress me. But the bottom line is that it is easy to fantasize about celebrities, and to assume that they all covet their fame and all the perks that come with it.

Audrey Kupferberg: 5 Flights Up

Jul 17, 2015

In the last year or two, love among the senior population has been more than evident in little and big-screen entertainments. 

Rob Edelman: Religion And Caricature

Jul 13, 2015

TOUGH BEING LOVED BY JERKS is an odd name for a film. For after all, it will be more taxing if not downright dangerous to be hated by jerks and, in particular, jerks who are petty, vindictive, or just plain evil, not to mention prone to the worst kind of violence. But as you view TOUGH BEING LOVED BY JERKS and consider its point of view, you get to see the origin of the title and how it clearly makes sense within the framework of what is unfolding onscreen.

Rob Edelman: Jackie Robinson, 1947 & 2015

Jul 6, 2015

Given the recent, sad, disturbing events in Baltimore, Ferguson, Staten Island, and elsewhere across the country, the impact of Jackie Robinson becoming the first black man to play major league baseball in the 20th-century is well-worth recalling-- and discussing. This is a milestone that transcends sports. It is one of the bellwether occurrences of what at mid-century was the soon-to-burgeon civil rights movement. Cinematically-speaking, the travails of Jackie Robinson have been detailed in two films. One of them, titled 42, came to theaters in 2013. The other, titled THE JACKIE ROBINSON STORY, was released way back in 1950.

Rob Edelman: Motherhood

Jun 29, 2015

Sometimes, a dramatically flawed film still may offer a certain insight into a very real issue. Such is the case with THE 11TH HOUR, newly-released theatrically, whose original title is I AM HERE.

Rob Edelman: Summer Movies And More

Jun 22, 2015

The summer movie season has arrived in force. JURASSIC WORLD, a movie which is the definition of cotton candy hot weather escapism, earned a whopping $200-million in U.S. theaters during its opening weekend. Add to this the $300-million the film earned overseas, and JURASSIC WORLD took in over a half-billion dollars during its first days in release. And if you bought a ticket, you certainly got what you paid for: special effects, special effects, and more special effects, all of which are calculated to thrill the masses.

New restorations of two classic films are being released this month.  Both are works of masters from cinema’s past.  The first is LIMELIGHT, a mature, philosophical drama written and directed by and starring Charles Chaplin.  The second is Dziga Vertov’s THE MAN WITH THE MOVIE CAMERA, which is one of the outstanding documentary films of all time.

Rob Edelman: Two For The Price Of One

Jun 15, 2015

 

LOVE & MERCY is based on the life of Brian Wilson, the composer-performer-musical genius who back in the early 1960s was instrumental in making the Beach Boys one of America’s most successful musical groups. However, LOVE & MERCY is a bit different from other biopics in that two actors play the central character. Paul Dano is cast as Wilson as a younger adult, while John Cusack plays him as an older adult.

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