Movie review: ‘Birdman (Or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)’

Michael Keaton and Edward Norton in Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Birdman (Or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) One of the great lines – and there are many – in Birdman is spoken by Ed Norton’s lauded method-actor Mike Shiner to Michael Keaton’s blockbuster star Riggan Thomas, who wants to earn respect by appearing on Broadway: “Popularity is the slutty little cousin of prestige.” The scene [...]

An extraordinary piece of filmmaking

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Whiplash It’s hard to imagine a teacher worse than Terrence Fletcher, the jazz band leader at fictional Shaffer Conservatory of Music in New York who J.K. Simmons plays with terrifying, unpredictable, sadistic joy. Fletcher, something like a cross between a Sgt. Hartman in Full Metal Jacket and Delores Umbridge in Harry Potter and the Order [...]

Movie review: ‘Pride’- a comedy, a romp and a tear-jerker

In the somewhat tired genre of British movies that focus on plucky working class folks winning contests and defying mores (The Full Monty, Billy Elliot, Brassed Off, etc.) the politics of class conflict are usually sublimated by the up-from-our-bootstraps plotlines. It’s actually kind of sinister how those films trivialize the experience of British coal miners, [...]

A commentary on the false romance of the mentally unstable artist

Michael Fassbender in Frank

When Jon Burroughs (Domhnall Gleeson) first sees Frank (Michael Fassbender), the lead singer of a ragtag little rock band for which he is randomly hired to play keyboards, his reaction is probably that of most of the audience watching the film Frank: What the hell? Here is a man with a giant, cartoonish fake head [...]

Movie review: ‘This Is Where I Leave You’

Maybe I’m a bit more emotional or sentimental than some, but when I watch people in the movies and on TV react to death, I’m astonished by the lack of, well, sorrow. Filmed funerals often seem to be settings for dramatic meetings of mourners, such as Jim Gordon and Bruce Wayne’s prophetic handshake at the [...]

A dark comedy that is beautiful, surprising and moving

The Skeleton Twins The best thing about getting past Labor Day is not, contrary to popular thought, the arrival of pumpkin spiced lattes at Starbucks, but rather the wide release of good movies to theaters. Of course, good movies do show up in the first nine months of the year, but movies like Boyhood, Locke, [...]

Movie review: ‘The Dog’ memorializes an extraordinary time in New York City and in gay history

It should come as no surprise that movies based on true stories are much more “based on” than they are “true.” Few actual series of events unfold in a perfectly coherent and concise way, and even less fit into the three-act structure around almost all modern films are constructed. For many years, movies with queer [...]

Just what we need: A great gay man, aging gracefully

Why Ira Sachs titled his latest film Love is Strange is unclear. Nothing about the love depicted in the film – between Ben and George, together for 39 years; between Elliot and Kate, together 19 years; between young lovers Ted and Roberto; between Eliot and Kate and their son Joey – is remotely weird. These [...]

An indelible American story about the cycle of poverty

Andrew is 13 years old and lives in rural Missouri, in a town an hour or so from Kansas City. He is a handsome kid, articulate and wise beyond his years. He’s also often cheerful, and I found this surprising and endearing. In Andrew Droz Palermo and Tracy Droz Tragos’ extraordinary documentary about three adolescent [...]

Movie review: ‘Calvary’ — a fascinating and heartbreaking film

I cannot pretend to be an expert on Catholicism, let alone Irish Catholicism. My entire experience of the Catholic Church has been created by history classes I took more than 20 years ago, a few masses I attended out of curiosity and a large number of movies about priests and nuns, which run the gamut [...]

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