Film: “The Post”

A number of questions ran through my mind as I watched Steven Spielberg’s exceptionally well-made (no surprise there), celebration of the first amendment. But all of those questions can be reduced to this one: Why? The “Post” of the title is the Washington Post, and the heroic moment the film celebrates is its publication of…

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Film: “The Insult”

“The Insult”, a Lebanese film, is one of the foreign Oscar nominees, directed and co-written (with Joelle Touma) by Ziad Doueiri. It explores the current political situation in Lebanon, focusing on a personal conflict between two men, a Lebanese Christian and a Palestinian living in a refugee camp. It starts as personal drama, but it…

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Film: “The Shape of Water”

To some critics, this fantasy in which a disabled abused woman heroically challenges the male power structure is perfectly timed for the #MeToo movement. Actually, I think it is far more ambitious than that. The film seems to predict the actual reversal of the power structure in the future because men are no longer able,…

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Film: “An Eye For Beauty”

This strange, deceptively placid film, from 2014, is hard to describe. A French-Canadian work from renowned writer-director Denys Arcand, its title is incorrectly translated as “An Eye For Beauty”. I think the original title, “Le Regle de la Beauty”, is closer to its theme. It opens with Luc (played by Eric Bruneau), a handsome, middle-aged…

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2017: The Overlooked Acting Standouts

Well, the year is over and a lot of people are paying attention to the awards shows and “best of year” lists. I’ve picked eight actors who gave performances that deserved attention, but were generally overlooked by critics. I’m not saying they were better than the award nominees, just that their contribution to the film…

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Film: “Phantom Thread”

Aside from a very favorable early critical reception, not much is well-known about “Phantom Thread” – which I saw on the last day of 2017 – except that it will be Daniel Day-Lewis’ last film, or so the actor has declared. Actually, it is an achievement in its own right. Writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson has…

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Film: “Happy End”

Some critics have called “Happy End”, the latest film from Michael Haneke, a “retread”, or something like that. I think, rather, that it shows a major artist losing his passion for filmmaking, as was also evident in his last film, the overrated “L’Amour”,¬†which also starred Jean- Louis Trintignant. The first third of the film, at…

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Film: “Call Me By Your Name”

We may look back one day on how this film marked a turning point in how gay sexuality is treated in American film. I can imagine heated debates about how it served as a “lightening rod” for those with extreme positions on the subject, and drew condemnation from the religious right. But none of that…

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Short Take: “Nocturnal Animals”

I saw this one on TV, over two days, so it feels right for my review to be shorter, less analytical. I liked the film, and it’s worth your time. Fashion designer Tom Ford wrote and directed it, which helps explain why it looks so great. But the casting, acting, and editing are just as…

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Film: “Thelma”

This supernatural shocker from Norway delivers Carrie-like chills, but its half-serious dabbling in the religion-versus-science conflict is ultimately unsatisfying. Best to appreciate a skillfully made, emotionally gripping movie for its entertainment value alone. Director and co-writer (with Eskil Vogt) Joachim Trier goes on my short-list for terror. The pre-credit teaser shows Thelma, age 6, walking…

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