Cinema

​Blindspotting: Oakland in Black and White

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | September 5th, 2018

With first-time feature director Carlos Lopez Estrada at the helm, friends/screenwriters/producers/stars Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal collaborate on “Blindspotting,” one of the year’s most innovative and thought-provoking movies. Just as given to imaginative flights of fantasy as Boots Riley’s “Sorry to Bother You” -- another Sundance premiere examining the twined Romulus and Remus of race and Oakland, California -- “Blindspotting” skips Riley’s wild swerve into…

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​Art and Life in “Madeline’s Madeline”

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | August 29th, 2018

The borders of the real and imagined assume a prominent place in Josephine Decker’s “Madeline’s Madeline,” the new feature from the talented filmmaker of “Butter on the Latch” and “Thou Wast Mild and Lovely.” As a richly layered metanarrative that utilizes the vehicles of acting, performance, and improvisation as the means to explore a complex emotional triangle involving a troubled young woman, her mother, and her theater teacher, Decker’s movie is a visual and…

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​Lee’s Latest Must-See: BlacKkKlansman

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | August 22nd, 2018

Spike Lee’s stated desire to comment on current events through the colorful prism of a 1970s-set period piece reaps tremendous rewards in Cannes Grand Prix winner “BlacKkKlansman,” a startling and brilliant addition to the veteran filmmaker’s top tier. Loosely based on Ron Stallworth’s autobiographical memoir, Lee’s film dramatizes the utterly unbelievable story of the first African-American officer and detective on the force of the Colorado Springs Police Department.…

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​Eighth Grade: Burnham Makes Strong Feature Debut with Fisher

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | August 15th, 2018

Elsie Fisher’s Kayla Day is the lonely but indefatigable middle-school protagonist of first-time feature filmmaker Bo Burnham’s “Eighth Grade,” a winning addition to the pantheon of the adolescent cinematic bildungsroman. What details and nuances other performers might have brought to the role we wouldn’t dare to imagine, so perfect is Fisher’s take. She constructs a brilliant characterization utterly unselfconscious in its self-consciousness. There are millions like Kayla,…

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​Separated-at-Birth Brothers Meet in ‘Three Identical Strangers’

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | August 8th, 2018

Three Identical Strangers - Eddy Galland, David Kellman, and Bobby Shafran, separated at birth.

Tim Wardle’s documentary “Three Identical Strangers” shares the seemingly impossible tale of brothers Eddy Galland, David Kellman, and Bobby Shafran, separated-at-birth identical triplets who discovered one another as young adults in 1980. Recipient of the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Storytelling shortly after its world premiere at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, the movie draws on new interviews and a strong archive of visual material to paint a colorful but…

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​Susco Clicks on Our Fears in ‘Unfriended: Dark Web’

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | August 1st, 2018

Making his feature directorial debut, “The Grudge” writer Stephen Susco scares up a handful of unnerving images and grim thoughts in “Unfriended: Dark Web,” a standalone follow-up to the incredibly profitable 2014 Blumhouse film. Like the first “Unfriended,” “Dark Web” was produced at a cost of roughly one million dollars, practically guaranteeing a big return on investment by the conclusion of its opening weekend. The second installment retains the visual gimmick of…

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​Hearts Beat Loud: Haley Makes Music with Offerman and Clemons

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | July 25th, 2018

Brett Haley follows “The Hero” with another intimate and small-scale drama that touches on love and loss, looking back and moving forward. Nick Offerman, who provided memorable support in “The Hero” as Sam Elliott’s drug connection, assumes lead duties as Brooklyn record store proprietor Frank Fisher. Coming to grips with the imminent closure of his shop and the cross-country relocation of his daughter Sam (Kiersey Clemons) to UCLA medical school, widower Frank avoids the…

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​Boots Riley is “Sorry to Bother You”

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | July 11th, 2018

Boots Riley hallucinates a wildly funny feature debut with “Sorry to Bother You,” a sharp-fanged social satire that mashes up the innovative handmade aesthetics of Michel Gondry with the fierce truth-to-power consciousness of Spike Lee. As uneven as it is addictively watchable, the movie caroms from sharply on-point to murkily broad. Fans of alternate reality dystopian nightmares like Mike Judge’s “Idiocracy” and Richard Kelly’s “Southland Tales,” two of a smallish…

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Granik Returns with Compelling “Leave No Trace”

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | June 27th, 2018

Filmmaker Debra Granik’s “Leave No Trace,” based on Peter Rock’s novel “My Abandonment,” demonstrates some spiritual and stylistic kinship with the director’s tremendous “Winter’s Bone,” but the new film stakes out the emotionally intense territory shared by a father and his daughter living off the grid as a means of self-care/self-preservation and survival. Ben Foster turns in a predictably excellent performance as Will, a veteran with serious PTSD. Will’s…

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​Hereditary: Aster’s Horror Debut Keeps It All in the Family

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | June 20th, 2018

Scaring up early buzz as a premiere in the Midnight section of the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, Ari Aster’s “Hereditary” is the horror film of the year. Anchored by the vital performance of Toni Collette as grieving, disintegrating mother Annie Graham -- arguably the actor’s career-best work -- the movie’s other noteworthy MVP may just be Pawel Pogorzelski’s sharp cinematography, which features one breathtaking day/night cut so perfect it serves as a reminder that not even…

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