Category: Film Reviews

A review of the Shakespeare Retold series

All in all, Shakepeare Retold is an excellent set of DVDs providing rich entertainment complex enough for multiple viewings and entertaining enough to engage viewers away from all other distractions. Drama like this is rare enough without the added enjoyment of Shakepearean…

A review of Neil Young: Heart of Gold

The film is directed in a restrained, unostentatious manner, with the camera serving the music as it rests on Young, Emmylou Harris (a guest artist here) and the musicians in the band. The camera’s focus is straight and direct. It…

Edward Norton in The Illusionist

In The Illusionist he has a glamour I do not recall him having before, and he seems supported in the film The Illusionist in novel ways (that may be because of the kind of initiative and independence his character has, and that most of the other characters are compelled to respond to him). Edward Norton does not present the same personality from film to film; he is an actor who creates characters and yet he has become a leading man—and, in The Illusionist, he manages something that seems a little bit subversive.

Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada

What The Devil Wears Prada does is suggest something of that dilemma, but it pays such respect to Miranda Priestly that the alternatives that do exist do not appear with the appropriate appeal or drama in the world the film gives us: alternative ways of being, feeling, thinking, and valuing are barely seen.

Seeing Palestine from Italy: Private, directed by Saverio Costanzo

Of what use is a film or video, a work that gives us more of the images that we have seen—of cruelty—on the television news; of more of the questions that poets and professors have tried to speak to many of us for decades; of more of the history we have known, forgotten, known, and forgotten again? Privatemakes it possible for us to believe we are seeing individuals, that we are being given true emotions and thoughts.

Luchino Visconti’s Rocco and His Brothers: Poverty and Possibility, Heroism and Decadence in Italy

How one family supports and exploits its members is shown—their connection to each other is strained, it breaks: the family is revealed as a primitive tribe, a complex but primitive tribe, part of a society that replicates (and inspires) the family’s impulses. Visconti, an aristocrat, treats these peasants and workers with a respect that is hard to imagine their equals in American film, especially those who are African-American or Latino, receiving even at this time: Rocco and his brothers are allowed moments of transcendence.

A review of Accused directed by Jacob Thuesen

The film’s early photography is clear, full of blues and greens, and is attractive without being glamorous. Henrik’s eyes are blue and, primarily, he seems to wear blue, gray, and black clothes. Henrik and Nina, with her shoulder-length light brown hair and trim figure, look like ordinary people—in early middle age, and they are attractive but not distractingly so.

The documentary Trudell looks at noted Indian poet-activist John

Spirituality has been for Native Americans, as for African-Americans, a path to personal dignity, social morality, and public meaning; and in the film John Trudell talks about the importance of valuing the earth, of reconciling ourselves to the requirements of the land, and of being cognizant of what we leave to future generations. Robert Redford describes conversations with Trudell as exciting, and Wilma Mankiller talks about how essential Trudell has been to articulating Native American concerns.

A review of On the Waterfront directed by Elia Kazan

Brando’s ability to seem alive to feelings and ideas give the choices he is faced with in On the Waterfront vivid reality and moral dimension: one sees him, and remembers young men one has seen, known, in daily life, attractive men who might have gone in any direction, and many different kinds of actors seem Brando’s descendants. Brando seems unafraid to be onscreen, unafraid of observation or judgment: he is friendly, regretful, sad, charming, doltish, evasive, impulsive, and more.