rob edelman

Rob Edelman
Rob Edelman

The WAMC family has lost a member. Longtime film commentator Rob Edelman has died after a short illness. 

Rob Edelman: Always Something New

Feb 11, 2019

One may know much about film history, or any aspect of history. But there always is something new to discover; there always is something new to learn. Over the summer, while visiting the Kent Museum of the Moving Image, located a couple hours outside London, I was struck by a poster of an otherwise unfamiliar film. Its title is POOL OF LONDON. It dates from 1951. One of its stars is an actor by the name of Earl Cameron. While I do not know every British actor, this one in particular is of special note for several reasons. His birth year is 1917 and, last I heard, he is still with us. So he is over 100 years old! He has, across the decades, appeared in countless feature films and short films, TV series and TV movies. At a time in which the Bermuda-born Cameron appeared in POOL OF LONDON, he was breaking ground as a black actor who was not primarily playing black stereotypes.

Rob Edeman: What To Watch

Feb 4, 2019

These days, simply-put, heading off to a movie house is, increasingly, a trying experience. Within the Hollywood mainstream, the artistic quality has been drastically lowered. The bottom line here is directly connected to the business of show business. This is nothing new. I’ve cited this often enough, not just in recent weeks or months but in recent years. However, there is an alternative. One does not have to head off to a movie theater to be genuinely entertained or enlightened. Plenty of first-class material has been popping up on television. Plus, they feature actors who are veteran movie stars and who simply are not going to draw the same box office bucks as they used to, once upon a time.

Rob Edelman: More Bits And Pieces

Jan 28, 2019

One of the co-hosts of the recent Golden Globe awards was a now-familiar face. That would be Sandra Oh. She certainly has earned this distinction, as she has won numerous prizes for her screen and stage work. Briefly, Sandra Oh is Canadian-born to Korean parents, and her proud mom and dad, who were present during the Globes, clearly have savored her achievements. And this reminded me of one of her earliest successes. That would be DOUBLE HAPPINESS, an independent feature written and directed by Mina Shum and released in 1994.

Rob Edelman: Vice...

Jan 21, 2019

VICE is a Hollywood biopic that every American, whatever one’s politics, should be seeing and pondering. This sharply-told, take-no-prisoners pitch-black comedy is an eye-opener, to be sure. It is of course a biopic of life and times in the present-day Oval Office. And historically-speaking, presidential biopics usually center on the president, the person holding the power from Lincoln to FDR to Barack Obama. Here, however, President George W. Bush, played by Sam Rockwell, is a secondary character. He appears onscreen at the outset as little more than a drinking buddy, a guy who was born into wealth and who would have been more adept as baseball commissioner than U.S. president. A decade ago, Oliver Stone charted the life history of George W. in W.

Rob Edelman: Full Frontal

Jan 14, 2019

PRIVATE LIFE, a new film that was released direct to Netflix, is the saga of a forty-something married couple and their issues while struggling to become parents. They are played by Paul Giamatti and Kathryn Hahn. At one point in the film, which is scripted and directed by Tamara Jenkins, Kathryn Hahn appears nude. Even more specifically, her nudity is full frontal. Granted that birth, babies, and privacy are at the core of PRIVATE LIFE. The film is a generally entertaining and knowing look at the daily goings-on among contemporary New Yorkers as they struggle to survive in a less-than-hospitable culture. But still, what is the reason for ever-so-casually allowing Kathryn Hahn to appear in the buff? Will this somehow draw attention to her, and allow her to rise above the mass of talented actors of a certain age? Will this win her the most coveted roles? Will this keep her off the endless list of here-today-gone-tomorrow talents?

Rob Edelman: Bits And Pieces

Jan 7, 2019

Cinematically-speaking, one simply cannot sum up the just-concluded year in a sentence or two. The world is quickly changing, and this fact is impacting mightily onscreen. Take for example BLACK PANTHER, BLACKKKLANSMAN, and IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK. These are very different films, on any number of levels, but what they do share is that their main characters are black characters. Would they all have been produced and released just a few years ago? Well, I somehow do not think so.

Rob Edelman: Year Of The Woman

Dec 31, 2018

So many films released in 2018 reflect on the massive, endlessly evolving depictions of women and men in American culture. So many are offshoots of Donald Trump’s now-infamous “Access Hollywood” appearance. 

Rob Edelman: Person-To-Person Friendship

Dec 24, 2018

For decades, myriad name-brand Hollywood features have offered messages that are special to the masses of moviegoers and marketed to the masses of moviegoers. They involve the importance of love, and heartfelt person-to-person friendship. The key to living a good life and finding true happiness is understanding and accepting the difference between right and wrong and living a life that radiates honor. I could not begin to cite the list of films that puts forth this message.

Rob Edelman: A Great Silent Feature

Dec 17, 2018

Nine decades ago, the silent cinema pretty much disappeared and was replaced by the new all-singing, all-dancing, all-talking picture. Well, I always have been intrigued by the art of the silent picture, and I am thrilled whenever a worthy new title of which I am unfamiliar becomes available on home entertainment. For after all, the comedy masterworks of a Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, or Harold Lloyd or such acknowledged classics as King Vidor’s THE CROWD or F.W. Murnau’s SUNRISE are not the lone silent gems. And I always am thrilled to discover one more. It may be eye-catching for the story it is telling. It may be alluring for its visuals, its camera movement, where the filmmaker places the camera and the manner in which the filmmaker moves the camera. Truly, this is the essence of the art of the silent cinema.

Rob Edelman: Hot, Political Docs

Dec 10, 2018

One could not begin to cite the endless number of new documentaries that currently are examining an assortment of issues. I could focus on one each week and still be introducing worthy titles through the winter, spring, summer, and way beyond. Granted that, cinematically-speaking, some are more successful than others, often because of how their subjects are presented by the filmmaker. Still, in 2018, it seems as if there is controversy everywhere. 

Rob Edelman: How The Mighty Have Fallen

Dec 3, 2018

Kevin Spacey and Bill Cosby are two award-caliber actors whose sexual shenanigans have transcended their talents and wrecked their careers. And at a time in which an individual can brag about his sexual exploits and become President of the United States, it is not surprising that mere actors will earn headlines for their off-camera conduct.

Rob Edelman: The Other Side Of Orson Welles

Nov 26, 2018

CITIZEN KANE, which dates from 1941, is more than a now-mythical debut feature. Much more... It is perhaps the all-time-great American film, and it thrust Orson Welles, its then-twenty-something director/co-screenwriter/star, into the Hollywood pantheon. One can pen a book, if not a lengthy chapter in a book, on the who’s, what’s, and why’s of CITIZEN KANE. Indeed, plenty already have... But not much has been revealed about Welles’ last feature film. Its title is THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND. Over 100 hours of footage were shot over a several-year period in the early-to-mid 1970’s-- or, a decade or so prior to Welles’ death in 1985.

Rob Edelman: A Range Of Biopics

Nov 19, 2018

This year as every year, so many September-to-December theatrical releases will be vying for Academy Awards. Plenty are celebrity biopics. In 2018, you have Hugh Jackman playing Gary Hart, Felicity Jones as Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong, Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury, Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly as Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. And so on... Yet not all biopics focus on the famous. Many are based on otherwise average folk who nonetheless are dealing with very real issues. The problems faced are recognizable, and plenty of moviegoers surely will be nodding their heads and connecting to what is unfolding onscreen.

Rob Edelman: Press Releases And Facts

Nov 12, 2018

These days, Alex Rodriguez-- more popularly known as A-Rod-- is much in the media, but as a media personality. There he is joking with his fellow sportscasters on ESPN baseball broadcasts. There he is socializing with his lady fair, Jennifer Lopez. So if you only know A-Rod in the present, you might view him as a likable and even enviable celebrity at the cusp of his career. And this is why a new documentary, titled SCREWBALL, is ever so enlightening.

Rob Edelman: From Festival To Netflix

Nov 5, 2018

These days, a film can be screened at film festivals galore. But not so if you wish to pay to see it in a theater, after its official “opening.” This directly mirrors the business of show business, 2018-style. Clearly, a film will earn more dollars if it arrives directly on Netflix or in a similar non-theatrical venue. This certainly is the case if the film in question is more about issues and feelings, rather than teen-oriented coming-of-age tales or violence-oriented actioners.

Rob Edelman: Oscar Time

Oct 29, 2018

After nine months of film releases that mostly are unremarkable if not downright forgettable, we now are neck-deep into seeing and savoring a slew of the year’s best new films. And we are inaugurating the 2018 Academy Awards. From now until Oscar night, there will be plenty of Oscar hype. Who will be nominated? Who will win? Who will end up an afterthought? At a time in which our world is drowning in mediocrity, not to mention outright greediness, playing the Oscar game is a great escape, a pleasurable distraction.

Rob Edelman: First Men

Oct 22, 2018

The present-day super-movie-stars are no longer Gary Cooper and Clark Gable. Nor are they Robert Redford and Paul Newman. They are Bradley Cooper and Ryan Gosling: actors of a certain generation who are not here-today-gone-tomorrow celebrities. And 2018 is a banner year for both. Bradley Cooper not only stars in but directs the much-heralded fourth version of A STAR IS BORN, while Ryan Gosling plays the title character in one of the season’s deservedly high-profile features. That would be FIRST MAN, in which he offers a spot-on, appropriately low-key performance as Neil Armstrong, the astronaut who back in 1969 became the first American to set foot on the moon.

Rob Edelman: Voting In The Movies

Oct 15, 2018

In a few short weeks, a midterm election will be held across America. Its outcome will be directly linked to the outcome of the most recent presidential election, on so many levels. However, according to various sources, millions of Americans did not even bother casting their vote in 2016. Perhaps 50 per cent of all Americans voted, or maybe it was closer to 60 per cent. But the bottom line is that innumerable voters did not vote, and this despite all the non-stop pre-election coverage in the media.

Rob Edelman: Redford

Oct 8, 2018

Robert Redford... This combination actor/director/producer and guiding force of the Sundance Institute and Sundance Film Festival is a textbook American success story. Other actors/directors/producers who raise eyebrows among the film-going masses are here one moment before disappearing into oblivion. But not Robert Redford. His most recent film in front of the camera, one which reportedly will feature his final acting role, is THE OLD MAN & THE GUN, a fact-based tale in which he offers one of his better performances as a career robber. His character, whose name is Forrest Tucker, is not to be confused with the actor Forrest Tucker, of F TROOP fame. Plus, he is not the lone “old man” or “old woman” in the film. He is surrounded by a veteran cast, among them Danny Glover, Keith Carradine, and Sissy Spacek.

Rob Edelman: Michael And Donald

Oct 1, 2018

The latest feature from documentarian-satirist Michael Moore is just arriving in movie theaters. It is titled FAHRENHEIT 11/9. Even though it touches on a range of contemporary issues, from gun violence in America to the poisoning of water in Flint, Michigan, which is Moore’s hometown, it primarily-- and unsurprisingly-- works as a condemnation of Donald Trump. Simply put, in FAHRENHEIT 11/9, Moore likens our president to Adolph Hitler. He links Trump’s rise to political power to that of Hitler in Germany in the 1930’s. The film’s title is directly connected to November 9, 2016: the date in which it was officially announced that Trump bested Hillary Clinton in the most recent presidential election. It was assumed that Hillary would win, hands down. But the moral of that story is: Never assume!   

Rob Edelman: Trivializing Tragedy?

Sep 24, 2018

Near summer’s end, the ads for one particular film were invading TV stations. That film is OPERATION FINALE, set in the very early 1960’s: a fact-based thriller that centers on the effort to capture Adolph Eichmann, the infamous Nazi criminal, who had escaped to Argentina. Eichmann was responsible for the extermination of millions of Jews and, for sure, OPERATION FINALE is a sobering subject. It does acknowledge that anti-Semitism still was thriving in all its ugliness a decade-and-a-half after the end of World War II. But primarily, OPERATION FINALE is a by-the-numbers thriller. It stars a couple of name actors: Oscar Isaac, as an Israeli agent, and Ben Kingsley, as Eichmann. Back in 1982, Kingsley earned an Academy Award playing the title role in GANDHI, which proves that talented actors can wrap themselves around any real-life role.

Rob Edelman: The New Season

Sep 17, 2018

The summer is over. September is here. And with each fall comes the arrival of high-profile, name-brand Academy Award contenders which first will play at film festivals. Such is the case each year at Toronto, Venice, and Telluride.

Rob Edelman: Catchers, Spies, And Moe Berg

Sep 10, 2018

This year, six legends were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. None was Moe Berg. For the record, they were Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero, Jack Morris, Alan Trammell, Jim Thome, and Trevor Hoffman. However, during Induction Weekend, I could not help but think of Moe Berg. One reason was that the Hall continuously-- and justifiably, I might add-- celebrates the military careers and wartime service of its members, from Grover Alexander to Ted Williams. But to my knowledge, none of the new inductees-- or for that matter any baseball Hall of Famer-- accomplished what Berg did once upon a time. It was a remarkable achievement; it has nothing to do with singles, doubles, and triples; and his story is told in a new screen biography, titled THE CATCHER WAS A SPY, with Paul Rudd starring as Moe Berg.

Rob Edelman: U.S. Outside The U.S.

Sep 3, 2018

Here in the U.S., a host of films take on a host of viewpoints regarding the state of the American union in 2018. And over the summer, while traveling abroad-- in England, but it easily could be anywhere outside the U.S.-- I could not stop asking myself a series of questions. They only begin with: How are non-Americans viewing America? Even more specifically: How is the U.S. being presented in the arts? Are there any points-of-view here? This was answered in two very different but equally disturbing new works. One is a film. The other is a stage play.

Rob Edelman: Remakes And Reworkings

Aug 27, 2018

What is the connection between older film titles that are as diverse as DEATH WISH, SHE’S GOTTA HAVE IT, and GET SHORTY, FAHRENHEIT 451, PAPILLON, and SUPERFLY? Well, all are present-day remakes or reworkings and all have been redone either as feature films, made-for-TV movies, TV series, or whatever. Some even are about as high-profile as one can imagine. The third remake of A STAR IS BORN momentarily will open the Venice Film Festival, prior to an October theatrical release. Two name personalities topline the latest STAR IS BORN. They are Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga. The original stars were A-listers of their time. These versions date from 1937, 1954, and 1976, and they feature Fredric March, James Mason, and Kris Kristofferson, Janet Gaynor, Judy Garland, and Barbra Streisand.

Rob Edelman: BlacKKKlansman

Aug 20, 2018

At a time in which Donald Trump is the United States President and real-world issues involving African-Americans are endlessly grabbing headlines, it is not surprising that a range of films are dealing head-on with black-Americans and racism. But one in particular has been winning masses of headlines. Its title is eye-catching, to be sure. That would be BLACKKKLANSMAN and, even though it is set in the 1970’s, Donald Trump and 2018 are front-and-center in its story line.

Rob Edelman: Travolta/Gotti

Aug 13, 2018

The year only may be more than half-over, but I already can submit my vote for the worst film of 2018. That would be GOTTI, a biopic about the infamous mobster John Gotti, with John Travolta in the title role. Now Travolta is a charismatic actor and the film’s dismal failure is not his fault, but GOTTI is poorly written and cliché-ridden. It is an abysmal film, and it is yet one more example of Travolta’s long-standing inability to consistently choose first-class film roles.

Rob Edelman: History And The Holocaust, Part 2

Aug 6, 2018

Across the years, I have seen countless films-- documentaries, fictional stories, and everything in between-- that center on the Holocaust. One of the most powerful is NIGHT AND FOG, a 30-minute-long documentary made by Alain Resnais, which dates from the mid-1950’s. I screen NIGHT AND FOG in one of my UAlbany classes, and the responses are collectively jaw-dropping. NIGHT AND FOG has in recent years been joined by SON OF SAUL, the well-deserved Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award-winner in 2015. I've said this before, and I'll say it again: This mesmerizing film is not just the best of its year; I would say that it is the best of any year. 

Rob Edelman: History And The Holocaust, Part 1

Jul 30, 2018

It has been my experience that, for many of the younger generations, history is irrelevant. If it happened last Tuesday, let alone last month or year or decade, it is unimportant. Perhaps this explains why, these days, in order to market their products, so many companies stress the words “now” and “today” in their advertising. For after all, all that matters is “today,” is “right now.” Five minutes from now, “today” and “right now” no longer matter.

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