February 1, 2013
When I was in college, I once interviewed the late Rupert Crosse, an African-American actor who got an Oscar nomination for a 1969 film called “The Reivers,” whose star was Steve McQueen. If I’d known then that I would, 40 years later, write a book about John Cassavetes (in whose seminal film, “Shadows,” Crosse had appeared), well, it obviously would have been a different discussion. But who knew?
Instead, we talked about “The Reivers,” adapted from a William Faulkner novel, which, among other things, dealt with race. Which brought up another film of that same period, “The Learning Tree,” directed and written by Gordon Parks, adapted from his novel. I mentioned that that film made me feel uncomfortable at a couple of points, as had “The Reivers,” when Crosse’s character was mistreated by white characters (since it was set in the American South in the 1920s). When he asked why, I said, well, it made me feel guilty for the way whites mistreated blacks.
I thought of that again recently when the arguments began about Quentin Tarantino’s film, “Django Unchained,” with its copious use of the word “nigger.” “Django” unleashed a tornado of discussion points that found their way into reviews, into public discourse and beyond. (More…)
January 28, 2013
Now that his first comeback movie has seriously bombed, what’s next for Arnold Schwarzenegger?
I’m here to suggest that, in fact, “The Last Stand,” which opened to slim box office in the U.S. a couple of weeks ago, is actually a step in the right direction for the aging action star. Working for Korean director Kim Jee-woon, he didn’t try to come back as the same he-man action-figure that he was in the 1980s and 90s. Though he did go hand-to-hand with villain Eduardo Noriega at the conclusion of “The Last Stand,” he also made jokes about his age (he’s 65, after all) and let younger actors do most of the stunts and heavy-lifting (though he’s still obviously a pretty hearty physical specimen).
Still, this is a watershed moment for Schwarzenegger, in terms of his movie career. (More…)
January 25, 2013
I knew I had been at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival too long the day I was in the checkout line at the Fresh Market supermarket that’s in the same strip mall as the theaters where the bulk of the press screenings are.
The cashier rang up my purchase – a bottle of diet soda and a banana, as I recall – and told me my total. When I handed her the cash, she looked at me and said, “Oh – you’re back again.”
So, in more than one respect, I left Sundance just in time: I flew out of Salt Lake City yesterday (1/24/13) morning before 7 a.m. – luckily, because a freezing-rain storm blew in shortly afterward and closed the airport for most of the day. (More…)
January 24, 2013
My final day at Sundance was a bit of a miracle of both scheduling and movie choices. I saw all of four movies and most of a fifth, made it through the entire festival without getting shut out of a single press screening – and saw several films that were as entertaining as any I saw during the festival. (More…)
January 23, 2013
Well, the law of diminishing returns caught up with me on Tuesday at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival because, well, it’s the law.
So my last film of the day, “Ass Backwards,” sent me fleeing into the chilly night after 20 or so minutes (because, really, if they can’t make you laugh in the first 20 minutes, well, take a hint). Written by and starring the dreaded team of Casey Wilson and June Diane Raphael, it’s about – well, really, who cares? Keep in mind that this is the same pair responsible for the awful “Bride Wars” and you get the picture. (More…)
January 22, 2013
Every once in a while, you accidentally wind up with a thematic day at a film festival: a day where, for one reason or another, you wind up seeing a string of films that seem to all hue to a similar theme.
Not because you chose them for that reason but that’s just how it turned out.
All five of the films I saw on Monday at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival seemed to deal with issues of family, in one way or another. And as it happened, it was also a day in which I felt exhilarated or moved – or both – by each of the films I saw. (More…)
January 21, 2013
I had a four-movie day Sunday at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and still felt a little like I was slacking off.
Maybe it’s that I had time to kill between films. Maybe it’s that I enjoyed these films more than most of the ones I saw on Saturday.
And it’s not as if everything I saw on Sunday was a gem. Only a couple of them were. (More…)
January 20, 2013
My plane from New York (by way of Minneapolis) landed in Salt Lake City around 1 p.m. yesterday – and by 3:30, I was sitting in a press screening at the Sundance Film Festival of “Austenland.”
And by 4, I had given up on the film and moved on to something else, a film from New Zealand called “Shopping.”
It was a long day of travel, so I called it good after one more film – a dark British comedy called “Sightseers” – to rest up for what should be a full day today, Sunday. (More…)
January 14, 2013
We are losing context. Every single day.
And we don’t seem to notice. Or care.
We dispute it and disrespect it and otherwise dismiss it. Our love affair with all that is new, different and sensational leads us to fashion a society that has fewer and fewer ties to the past or memories of it. That which came before is not prologue; it is barely even history for the rising generation of tastemakers and culture mavens. (More…)
January 7, 2013
Here’s a radical proposal: Let’s ban guns from being shown in movies and television.
But not for the reasons you think. (More…)
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