Category: Film Reviews

Mistakes Made While Owning the World: J. C. Chandor’s film Margin Call about the American financial crisis, starring Zachary Quinto, Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Simon Baker, Demi Moore, and Jeremy Irons

What can the company do to save itself? Does it sell its toxic assets to others? Will it ever be trusted again? Who will take the blame for the losing strategy that led to this moment? Who should have anticipated this? What will be the effect on other companies, and on the larger society? How will the lives of those in this particular office be changed? The film is a compelling and a surprising pleasure.

Ignorance is the Enemy: Night Catches Us, Tanya Hamilton’s film of politics and memory, starring Anthony Mackie and Kerry Washington

Sometimes we want instant change, and are willing to settle for its appearance rather than work for a new authority, a new purpose, and a new structure that would make it real. There has been a betrayal of legacy in African-American culture and politics that is rarely discussed, but aspects of it can be seen in writer and director Tanya Hamilton’s film Night Catches Us, starring Anthony Mackie and Kerry Washington.

A review of Le Sacre du printemps by Pina Bausch

This last dance is, as well as being thrilling and climactic and incredibly moving, simply an incredible performance. For how do you attain in dance an absolute abandonment (one culminating in the loss of life itself) while retaining always at least a crumb of control? Death may no longer be a taboo; but dying is.

Charming Rogues in a New Kind of Western: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford, directed by George Roy Hill

It is a story presented with excellent craft. The film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid has a lot of style, in its cinematography, and in its structure; and its landscapes are gorgeous, musical interludes romantic, and it has well-measured pacing. Its use of silent film and black-and-white photographs, tinged sepia, are a nice touch.

Language, Spirit, and Vision: August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson, featuring Charles Dutton and Alfre Woodward

The Piano Lesson, as presented by Hallmark, has some staginess still, but what remain impressive are August Wilson’s language, spirit, and vision. Wilson’s language is more natural than poetic, but it is ever flowing—creating character and music and relationship—and summoned are a particular time, 1936, and place, America (Mississippi and Pittsburgh).