action

The Act of Killing & Rush

October 5, 2013
Screen Shot 2013-10-08 at 2.08.15 PM

There are limits to a social conscience. When a film has attracted every possible superlative it takes on the status of a must-see event, but after about ten minutes you know The Act of Killing will be both sickening and unforgettable. As one deadpan horror follows another in an interminable procession, many viewers will decide … More


What Maisie Knew & Elysium (+ film festivals)

August 24, 2013
Screen Shot 2013-08-24 at 9.47.52 AM

When Henry James published What Maisie Knew in 1897, the straight-laced mores of the Victorian era were already beginning to unravel. The Edwardian period would be more permissive, more prepared to confront social and sexual issues that had previously been taboo. James had a talent for describing scenes of great moral complexity without condoning deviations … More


The World’s End & Greetings From Tim Buckley

August 3, 2013
Screen Shot 2013-08-03 at 12.31.40 PM

There could hardly be a better setting for a movie called The World’s End, than a provincial English town. Regardless of the picturesque, ‘ye olde’ touches, many of those who spent their childhood in these soulless hamlets have fled like refugees from a scene of social disaster. It may not be entirely coincidental that director, … More


We Steal Secrets, A Gun in Each Hand, Pacific Rim

July 13, 2013
Screen Shot 2013-07-13 at 9.15.30 AM

If ever you had a sneaking feeling that Julian Assange was not the ultimate hero and martyr of our time, Alex Gibney’s We Steal Secrets will turn suspicion into certainty. The portrait of the WikiLeaks founder that emerges from this documentary reveals a man whose quest for truth has become an exercise in personal propaganda. … More


Man of Steel & Everybody Has a Plan

July 6, 2013
Screen Shot 2013-07-07 at 12.01.29 AM

When comic book heroes are turned into sensitive brooding souls, there is something twisted in our culture. We’ve seen a tortured Batman and now an angst-ridden Superman filled with anxiety about his true identity and how people might react to his superpowers. To complete the psychological profile the new Superman has a difficult childhood. He … More


After Earth & The Internship

June 22, 2013
Screen Shot 2013-06-23 at 3.56.12 PM

According to British market analyst, Nick Meaney, an incontrovertible algorithm reveals that any film starring Will Smith is guaranteed to make money. No sooner had we imbibed this piece of scientific wisdom than Smith appeared in After Earth, a movie of incontrovertible mediocrity that suggests the algorithm is a dud. No one ever claimed a … More


Farewell My Queen & Fast and Furious 6

June 8, 2013
Screen Shot 2013-06-08 at 2.24.18 PM

Everyone knows the story of doomed, frivolous Marie Antoinette whose life of pampered luxury was ended by the guillotine. The Queen’s personality was established in filmmakers’ minds by Stefan Zweig’s best-selling biography of 1932, subtitled The Portrait of an Average Woman, and she has never been allowed to deviate too far from that model. Among … More


Gangster Squad & You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger

January 19, 2013
Screen Shot 2013-01-21 at 7.57.55 PM

Rarely has a film ‘based on a true story’ seemed more like a fairy tale than Gangster Squad. If you go looking for the book behind the movie, as I did last week, then head for the True Crime section. Veteran journalist Paul Lieberman has penned a racy account of the real Gangster Squad – … More