Film Review: The Great Wall

Not So Great: Oh! How the Mighty Have Fallen Aside from some stunning cinematography, special effects and scenery, this U.S.-China co-production lensed, according to IMDB.com, on location in Qinqdao and New Zealand (!) is more about cashing in on the growing international audience of the PRC and USA.  The use of Real 3D and IMAX 3D is what The Great Wall is really all about - not a story or, heavens’ forbid, character development - although to Continue Reading...

Selling Purim to Progressives in the Era of Trump

It has been my custom to reproduce this “Selling Purim to Progressives” post occasionally on Purim.  The last time was in 2015, when we were in the midst of the Iran negotiations. Well, since then the world made a deal with Iran.  Trump may say that it's a lousy deal, but he doesn't plan on changing it soon, certainly not to Bibi's liking.  And as for the guy who's running Trump, forget about it; Putin is telling Bibi to move on. That's the Continue Reading...

Random Observations on Trump’s Speech to Congress Last Night

1. Let's get this out of the way up top: President Donald Trump's exploitation of Carryn Owens, the widow of Ryan Owens, a Navy SEAL who died in a fuck-up of a raid in Yemen, induced the kind of nausea you usually feel when you accidentally catch a glimpse of a pus-draining video.  While anonymous "senior officials" (who could be Trump - really) argue over whether or not any decent intelligence was gotten from the raid (spoiler: they didn't), Continue Reading...

Film Review: Do Not Resist

The Post-9/11 Iron Heel of the State The chillingly named Do Not Resist, which won the Tribecca Film Festival’s Best Documentary Feature award, opens with a tense demonstration shot at Ferguson, Missouri in 2014 only 10 days after the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown, an African American youth not carrying any weapons.  The footage shows heavily armed, helmeted officers with body armor, shields and Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Continue Reading...

Film Review: The Salesman

Life of a Salesman: Is This the Enemy? Asghar Farhadi may be to Iran’s screen what Arthur Miller was to the American stage.  His 2011 A Separation, a searing account of an Iranian couple’s divorce, won the Oscar and Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film.  A Separation’s script also scored Farhadi a nomination for the Best Writing, Original Screenplay Academy Award.  Now, the writer/director’s newest feature, The Salesman, is again in Continue Reading...

Film Review: Collateral Beauty

Framing Philosophy: Good Grief! With its theme of inconsolable grief and how to cope with it, director David Frankel’s (Marley & Me, The Devil Wears Prada) Collateral Beauty has the kind of story one usually experiences in low budget indies by filmmakers such as Jim Jarmusch.  But this is a New Line Cinema, Village Roadshow Pictures, et al, feature being distributed by Warner Bros. with an A-list cast, written by Allan Loeb (the Continue Reading...

Slow Train Coming

When I left central Pennsylvania, its single most defining characteristic for me was its blatant racism.  Second was how profoundly unhappy and uninformed the people were.  Not coincidentally, this area was most responsible for Trump winning that state.  I always thought Harrisburg was an exceptionally rotten place, but now I realize places like this make up maybe 70 percent of the country.  As a white man in New York, I have been totally Continue Reading...

Film Review: Loving

Abolishing Miscegenation: Virginia is for Lovings Writer/director Jeff Nichols’ feature film Loving is about a real life Virginia couple whose interracial marriage set the stage for the Supreme Court’s historic 1967 ruling against laws prohibiting miscegenation in America.  Believe it or not, the last name of husband Richard (Joel Edgerton, 2013’s The Great Gatsby) and wife Mildred (Ruth Negga, 2013’s World War Z) was actually, Loving - as the Continue Reading...

Film Review: Kevin Hart: What Now?

Kevin Can’t Wait: Into the Arena For fans of hilarious, often off-color comedy, Kevin really can’t wait: So head on down to the multiplex to laugh your head off at Kevin Hart: What Now?  Much of it is a concert film in the tradition of Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy’s earlier forays into this category of semi-documentary filmmaking of a live performance by a comedian.  However, Hart’s standup routines are wittily sandwiched between an opening Continue Reading...

Film Review: Star Trek Beyond

The Gripes of Wrath In Search of Dreck: The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be What a tired retread this umpteenth rip-off of the brand Gene Roddenberry pioneered 50 years ago with 1966’s Star Trek TV series, is, directed and produced by the cinematic art form’s most overrated, overpaid colossal no-talents.  To see how many televised and motion picture permutations - perhaps mutations is a better word? - there have been of this sci fi TV Continue Reading...

Film Review: Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising

The Bad Neighbor Policy: Liberté, Eqalité, Sororité Put your brain into neutral for Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, a raucous romp full of bathroom humor, bodily functions, some body parts, drug use, beer blasts, frat parties and the like.  This “long awaited” (that is, if you’re a Universal suit anxious to cash in on another mindless franchise) sequel to the 2014 hit Neighbors has the same plot premise: 30-something parents (drolly referred to Continue Reading...

Obscured American: Noam the Straying Hasid

Last year in Leipzig, Germany, I met a young woman who had just returned from Chicago, where her family lived in tony Lincoln Park.  She had also studied at Williams College in Massachusetts, where tuition alone was near $50,000.  Germany was too white, she complained, and she was ashamed of the anti-immigrant attitude shown by many of her countrymen.  For Christmas, she went to Palm Springs, California.  Though only in her mid-twenties, she had Continue Reading...