The Changin’ Times of Ike White

Ever heard of Ike White, the guitarist? How about David Ontiveros? Or David Maestro? On the way to stardom, playing backup for Big Mama Thornton, Ike White disappeared into the prison system, serving life for murder. Tipped off in the early ’70s, record producer Jerry Goldstein decked out a trailer with recording studio capabilities and hauled it onto… Continue reading The Changin’ Times of Ike White

ZAPPA

In an attempt to deflect his interests away from music toward science, chemical beakers were his toys and gas masks were common attire. In a family devoid of musical inclination, Frank Zappa learned how to make gunpowder at six before becoming fascinated by explosions at a later age. He admits to being inspired by Ernie… Continue reading ZAPPA

The Last Vermeer

In John Frankenheimer’s 1964 film The Train, French Resistance hopes to stop a train filled with art treasures without damaging the cargo. In director Dan Friedkin’s The Last Vermeer, former Dutch Resistance fighter Joseph Piller (Claes Bang) roots out the collaborators who stole from Jews to benefit the Nazis as the debris of world war settles.… Continue reading The Last Vermeer

The War With Grandpa

A rising tide lifts all boats, but a sinkhole won’t keep you afloat. Billed around Robert Kimmel Smith’s 1984 kid’s book, director Tim Hill (The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, Muppets From Space, Alvin and the Chipmunks) uses this coming-of-age guffaw to expose generational gaffs. When his maternal grandfather moves into the family house, Peter (Oakes Fegley), a… Continue reading The War With Grandpa

Balloon

Around the world in 80 days? The Strelzyk and Wetzel families just need to stay aloft for 30 minutes to clear the Berlin Wall and reach the West! But with their every step, the secret police for the German DEMOCRATIC Republic, led by the watchful stare of a Stasi Lieutenant (Thomas Kretschmann), are closing in. From the… Continue reading Balloon

And Then We Danced

Merab (Levan Gelbakhiani) is well versed in all 16 dances that honor the spirit of Tblisi, rooted in military moves and celebratory tradition, but he’s under scrutiny for not presenting the necessary idealized masculinity called for. Determined to escape the shadow of his brother, he’s coping, until competitive rival Irakli (Bachi Valishvili) joins the ballet troupe… Continue reading And Then We Danced

Beanpole

(sung to the tune of “Theme from Flipper”): “They call her Beanpole, Beanpole, thinner than twigs, weighs less than guinea pigs…” The aftermath of German blockades lasting three years by war’s end has left the inhabitants of Leningrad traumatized. In particular, Iya (Viktoria Miroshnichenko) who suffers a post-concussive ailment that leaves her awake but motionless,… Continue reading Beanpole

What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael

Knowing ahead of time what would more than likely piss off your readers gives a critic the advantage of the preemptive strike. Probably the greatest compliment I ever got was from an angry college kid who sought me out to scream, “You don’t know anything about movies! And I know this because I read you every… Continue reading What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael

Birds of Prey

I am so eternally thankful that I did not have to find myself in the pages of a Harlequin Romance novel at the age of 30! Originally developed as a sidekick to the Joker in Batman: The Animated Series, anarchistic goodball Harley Quinn was first brought to life by actress Mia Sara on the WB’s short-lived… Continue reading Birds of Prey

Cunningham

When told, “this can only be done one way,” the creator’s response is, “wanna bet?!” Between 1942 and 1972 choreographer Merce Cunningham remained unequalled for his innovative dance techniques that provided a unique perspective for moving people around. Refusing to accept the label of “an avant-garde modern reaction” choreographer, Cunningham saw endless possibilities for extending… Continue reading Cunningham

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Which could just as easily have been called “The Regurgitation of Skywalker and Then Some”! Unable to convince Rey (Daisy Ridley) to convert to the dark side, newly appointed Supreme Leader of the First Order Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) seeks two lost objects to guide him to an uncharted planet where The Sith wait. When the Resistance… Continue reading Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Little Joe

Plant breeder Alice (Emily Beecham) is engaged in developing a new species of an aromatic crimson flower with therapeutic properties of an anti-depressant, carrying the threat of an abrupt change in those who inhale its sterile pollen both socially and psychologically. Along with its mood-lifting promise of sheer happiness, those affected are protective of this… Continue reading Little Joe

White Snake

This adaptation of an ancient Chinese folk tale by director Amy Wong and Zhao Ji is more of a realistic puppetry drama than in its previous screen attempts. Basically a simple tale of humans trying to appease their emperor by collecting snakes to give him eternal life by fueling his Taoist powers crafted into a modern… Continue reading White Snake

Synonyms

“I can play a machine gun like Pink Floyd.” The minute I heard that line I knew I’d stumbled into a MAD movie satire populated by Mort Drucker caricatures! Yoav (Tom Mercier), an Israeli ex-soldier newly immigrated to Paris, staggers into a vacant apartment, disrobes and begins masturbating before he hears a commotion and finds that someone… Continue reading Synonyms

Light From Light

Marin Ireland and Jim Gaffigan appear in Light From Lightby Paul Harrill, an official selection of the NEXT program at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Greta Zozula. All photos are copyrighted and may be used by press only for the purpose of news or editorial coverage of Sundance Institute programs. Photos must be accompanied by a credit to the photographer and/or 'Courtesy of Sundance Institute.' Unauthorized use, alteration, reproduction or sale of logos and/or photos is strictly prohibited.

Working at the airport car rental, Sheila Garvin (Marin Ireland) is in-between paranormal research groups when a local priest (David Cale) hears her being interviewed on the radio and approaches her thinking her “gifts” can help Richard, a troubled widower (comedic actor Jim Gaffigan) who is convinced his deceased wife has returned causing objects to… Continue reading Light From Light

By the Grace of God

Director François Ozon (Swimming Pool) based his film on actual events about three men harnessing their guilt and anger to compare experiences 30 years prior in the early ’90s when at summer camp a pedophile priest molested each of them. Alexandra (Melvil Poupaud) starts the ball rolling for a preliminary investigation into Father Preynat (Bernard… Continue reading By the Grace of God

Gemini Man

A vet of Somalia and the Persian Gulf War, after 72 confirmed kills Henry Brogan (Will Smith) has re-evaluated his life and grown a conscience, choosing to retire from The Defense Intelligence Agency, a government organization of soldiers who take out and eliminate world threats. The twist of it all is that Clive Owen as the… Continue reading Gemini Man

Joker

Didja hear the one about Travis Bickle and Rupert Pupkin walking into a bar and ordering a “Scorsese”?  The bartender casually reaches underneath the counter, raises his shotgun and gives ’em both a shot! In director Todd Phillips’ take on DC Comics mastervillain the Joker, Joaquin Phoenix takes the white-skinned, green-haired Clown Prince we know… Continue reading Joker

Ms. Purple

To live and die in LA between the palm trees. Gun Club’s Miami sleeve suggested the end of the road where alien vegetation meets Seuss-like desert as a prelude to the long wait of bereavement. Kasie (Tiffany Chu) has put her musical training aside to deal with her ailing, bedridden father who needs constant supervision. Once the… Continue reading Ms. Purple

This is Not Berlin

Seen as a rite of passage in a culture that demands conformity, two friends, Carlos (Xabiani Ponce de Leon) and Gera (Jose Antonio Toledano), set their sights above high rivalries and their anticipation of World Cup soccer, aiming instead for the hedonic pursuits of Mexico’s clandestine nightlife at the various clubs and bars in director… Continue reading This is Not Berlin

Love, Antosha

In 2016, the son of two Russian ice skating stars was pinned between the gate to his home and a soon to be recalled Jeep Grand Cherokee that literally pushed the air out of him. Having grown up in front of the camera, Anton Yelchin is mostly identified as “that Star Trek guy who played… Continue reading Love, Antosha

Them That Follow

Faith stems from three words: “He Is Risen.” Not tempting fate, but according to the community of Appalachian snake handlers led by the fire-and-brimstone preacher (played by Walton Goggins from Justified), per The Book of Luke, the power to tread on serpents is God’s way of cleansing the spirit to prove oneself before the Almighty. … Continue reading Them That Follow

Piranhas

Fifteen-year-old Nicola (Francesco Di Napoli) roams the streets of Naples with his gang of wannabe toughs until he encounters Lietizia (Viviana Aprea), which puts him on the path to quick wealth offering his services to the Neapolitan mafia! Based on the novel La Paranza dei Bambini (The Children’s Parade) from author Roberto Saviano, who went into… Continue reading Piranhas

Mike Wallace is Here

Walter Cronkite read a teleprompter. Dan Rather was a bagman for dirty tricks. Mike Wallace gave us a style of journalism that hit the fan…and it stung and stuck. Either he’s the last toughass muckraker or he sowed the seeds of fake news, but as he proclaims in director Avi Belkin’s docu-bio, “the press’s business is NOT… Continue reading Mike Wallace is Here

Once Upon a Time in…Hollywood

In August 1969, on two consecutive nights, people died at the hands of counterculture dropouts who lived on a rundown fake movie set used for TV shows during the height of westerns such as Wanted Dead or Alive and Shotgun Slade, both of which were cited as being too violent. Quentin Tarantino’s appreciation for the… Continue reading Once Upon a Time in…Hollywood

Spider-Man: Far From Home

Continuing the aftermath of Endgame, what I noticed was how this third tier in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has altered the way the stories are told. The classic Marvel way was to tell linear stories in the context of an overlaying arc. This time there are three diverging storylines told concurrently while seeded with hints of what’s… Continue reading Spider-Man: Far From Home

Babylon

Franco Rosso’s film premiered at the 1980 Cannes Film Festival without the benefit of subtitles to clarify the Jamaican Creole dialect called patois, from the 17th century when West African slaves were exposed to English language vernacular. As an example of racist reaction to Jamaican transplants and their passion for reggae, National Front graffiti abounds in… Continue reading Babylon