Movie Review: Maria by Callas

The Soprano: Inside Diva As an opera reviewer who doesn’t know much about the legendary Maria Callas I greatly enjoyed Tom Volf’s extremely informative documentary Maria By Callas. The film consists entirely of archival footage, clips of the soprano on TV talk shows and in the news, performance/concert vignettes, home movies and sound recordings. I don’t believe there’s a single solitary shot of original material per se by Volf but he has done Continue Reading...

Film Review: The Advocates

Gimme Shelter: And Much More French director Rémi Kessler’s heartwarming documentary The Advocates, which was screened at the LA Film Festival 2018, is now being theatrically released. The documentary takes an insider look at a compelling crisis that seems to be mushrooming across Los Angeles far beyond the confines of Skid Row: Homelessness. The 86 minute nonfiction film focuses in on a trio of L.A. organizers for whom the political is Continue Reading...

Film Review: First Man

The Wrong Stuff: From Claustrophobia to the Cosmos Director Damien Chazelle has had a meteoric rise in the Hollywood firmament. His 2014 hit Whiplash had a $3.3 million production budget and earned more than $13 million at the box office, while 2016’s La La Land cost $30 million. Presumably because that musical scored five times its costs, Chazelle’s latest movie, First Man, almost doubled La La Land’s budget. I usually don’t dwell on film Continue Reading...

Film Review: Making Montgomery Clift

Clift Notes: The Full-er Monty Making Montgomery Clift - the four time Oscar nominee for classics such as 1953’s From Here to Eternity - is one of the most singular nonfiction films this movie historian has ever seen. Like many others it is a biopic, but one with a unique take on its reputedly “troubled” subject, who was as renowned for his beauty as for his prodigious talent. Co-directed/co-produced by the actor’s nephew Robert Clift with his Continue Reading...

Film Review: The First Purge

Dystopian Racial Apocalypse Tomorrow: May the Purge Be With You Move over George Orwell and Aldous Huxley! Although it depicts a not-so-brave-world and is set in the near future instead of 1984, The First Purge is in the tradition of these dystopian tales about futuristic fascistic states. This is the fourth installment in the popular film franchise about an anti-Utopia America ruled by a quasi-totalitarian government run by a third party Continue Reading...

Movie Review: Jurassic World – Fallen Kingdom

Eco-Messages Abound in this Wild Kingdom Summer has arrived and that means only one thing here in Hollywood: Bring out the blockbusters! Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is the fifth in the film franchise featuring frenetically genetically-engineered dinosaurs in modern times who run amok, wreaking havoc that began with Steven Spielberg’s 1993 screen adaptation of Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park novel, with Crichton’s screenplay. The Continue Reading...

Film Review: The Young Karl Marx

Moviegoers of the World Unite!: A Rabblerousing Biopic for the Ages Haitian director/co-writer Raoul Peck’s well-made The Young Karl Marx is one of the most significant biopics in cinema history and arguably among the genre’s best. As the 200th anniversary of the birth of communism’s co-founder approaches, Peck has beautifully dramatized Marx’s life during the 1840s as a 20-something lover, writer, husband, philosopher, father, journalist, Continue Reading...

Film Review: In The Fade

Lone Wolf Antifa in New Anti-Neo-Nazi German Film I never fail to be astonished at how the arts, as Shakespeare put it, hold a mirror up to nature, that is, to our society and current events. As the rightwing anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim tide rises, with its ripped-from-the-proverbial-headlines vibe, In the Fade (Aus dem Nichts) is a case in point. This German neo-nazi drama written and directed by Turkish-German auteur Fatih Akin’s (Head On, Continue Reading...