I often note how difficult it is to create a comedy that’s not only smart and funny but also charming and surprising. But first-time director Craig Zisk, a TV veteran, has done that with “The English Teacher,” which opens in limited release today (5/17/13) and is already available on VOD.
Like a witty update on Jane Austen, the script by Dan and Stacy Charlton details the life of a single woman, Linda Sinclair. As played by Julianne Moore with deliciously mousy energy, she’s a high school English teacher who, at 45, is a dedicated spinster (though we see her various abortive – and judgmental – attempts at dating). (More…)
Having broken through as a filmmaker with the intriguing and moving “The Freebie,” actress Katie Aselton suffers the sophomore slump with her second film as a director, “Black Rock.”
Written by her husband, Mark Duplass, “Black Rock” is meant to be a “Deliverance”-style thriller, a girls-vs.-boys tale set on a deserted island off the coast of Maine. The girls have boated out there for a weekend getaway, a chance to reconnect and sort old personal grievances. (More…)
South Korean cinema has exploded internationally in the past decade or so. I won’t speculate about how South Korean society informs the consciousness of its filmmakers because, well, we probably only see a fraction of the output. It would be like basing your opinions of American culture on the “Real Housewives” shows. Well, OK, bad example.
Anyway, Kim Ki-Duk’s “Pieta,” opening in limited release tomorrow (5/17/13), is as twisted and unexpected as much of the Korean cinema that has reached this shore. With its dazzlingly cynical story and intensely squalid setting, it’s a trip to the dark side – indeed, the darkest side. (More…)
The conventional wisdom about the “Star Trek” movies starring the cast of the original TV show was that the even-numbered films were the good ones and the odd-numbered ones kind of sucked.
That began to change when the “Star Trek: The Next Generation” movies kicked in; most of them were pretty good. But now, with J.J. Abrams at the helm of the rebooted prequels, all bets are off. (More…)
I’ve mostly been a fan of the films of Noah Baumbach but, with “Frances Ha,” he loses me.
Never a filmmaker for whom story seemed particularly important, Baumbach collaborated here with his star, Greta Gerwig, for what feels like an amorphous and fragmentary story of a delusional young woman who doesn’t seem to want to grow up. The visual and musical references are to the French New Wave, but while imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, it’s still just cribbing from someone else’s test paper, isn’t it? (More…)