Cinema

​Anderson and Day-Lewis stitch with ‘Phantom Thread’

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | January 31st, 2018

A delectable and devilish exercise in exquisite restraint, “Phantom Thread” offers compelling evidence that Paul Thomas Anderson and Daniel Day-Lewis can do quiet and still as effectively as the thunder and lightning they made together in “There Will Be Blood.”

A supremely funny homage to Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rebecca,” the new movie Day-Lewis claims will be his last sets the table for yet another master class in screen performance. The leading man’s perfectly monikered…

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​The Polka King

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | January 26th, 2018

Making its way to Netflix a year after debuting at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, "The Polka King" is the fictionalized version of Ponzi schemer Jan Lewan’s jaw-dropping journey from bandstand to prison cell. Played with his usual antic panache by Jack Black as an optimistic entrepreneur with mostly benevolent intentions, Lewan is an American dreamer by way of Poland, in way over his head.

Filmmaker Maya Forbes, whose semi-autobiographical first feature Infinitely Polar Bear earned…

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​Documentary: the strange relationship of famous writer and motel voyeur

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | January 17th, 2018

Now playing on Netflix Instant Watch, Voyeur is the curious story of strange bedfellows Gay Talese -- the once influential and celebrated journalist -- and Gerald Foos, a creepy peeper who spied on the guests at his hotel, chronicling their behavior, erotic and otherwise, in a quasi-scientific record book.

Filmmakers Myles Kane and Josh Koury don’t entirely corral the lurid proceedings into a fully satisfying examination of any given one of their smorgasbord of themes, but the…

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​Poitras Brings ‘Risk’ to Showtime

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | December 27th, 2017

The indomitable Laura Poitras adds to her fascinating filmography with “Risk,” a years-in-the-making (and unmaking) portrait of WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange, beginning prior to his retreat into the embassy of Ecuador in London under threat of eventual extradition to the United States.

Less immediate and urgent than her Oscar-winner “Citizenfour,” “Risk” continues the filmmaker’s investigation of the post-9/11 conditions of the widespread and largely unchecked illegal…

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​‘One of Us,’ a rare look at those who flee ultra-orthodox group

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | December 20th, 2017

On the occasion of the Netflix release of “One of Us,” veteran filmmakers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady shared with writer Kate Erbland some of the self-imposed “rules” to their formidable approach.

The documentarians indicated that potential subjects must offer rare and special access. They also make sure that the content includes “observational, vérité material,” along the order of high-stakes events unfolding in the here and now. The directors expect that the…

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​Mudbound: Dee Rees adapts compelling period novel

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | December 13th, 2017

On her biggest canvas to date, filmmaker Dee Rees paints a vivid picture of two American families in “Mudbound,” a deeply satisfying drama based on Hillary Jordan’s 2008 novel.

Adapting the screenplay with collaborator Virgil Williams, Rees skillfully weaves a tale that dissects and addresses race, war, poverty, alcoholism, adultery, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other substantive themes. She does this with tremendous confidence and focus, retaining the novel’s multiple…

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“Lady Bird” Sings

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | December 8th, 2017

gregcarlson1@gmail.com

With the critical phenom “Lady Bird,” Greta Gerwig makes good on her stated desire to “offer a female counterpart to tales like ‘The 400 Blows’ and ‘Boyhood.’” A shimmering coming of age chronicle featuring another tremendous performance by Saoirse Ronan, “Lady Bird” is steeped in a kind of nostalgia for the recent past without ever knuckling to the overly familiar. Ronan’s smart, original Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson is an heir to…

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​Baker finds sunshine and rain in “The Florida Project”

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | November 29th, 2017

Sean Baker’s gorgeous “The Florida Project” skitters and scampers like the attention span of its tiny protagonist Moonee (Brooklynn Prince), a six-year-old wonderer/wanderer who lives with her mom in a sketchy motel imaginatively named the Magic Castle.

Situated on the fringes of Disney’s Orlando empire, the Magic Castle houses many souls who may be down but are not entirely out. Resident manager Bobby (Willem Dafoe) is the caretaker who takes care -- a decent human being who…

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Moorhead native rocks the ‘Cradle’

by John Showalter | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | November 24th, 2017

Animation and filmmaking have walked hand in hand since the beginning. From the days of “Steamboat Willie” to the advent of computer programs like Adobe Flash, making it possible for aspiring animators to make their own movies at home, animation has captured audiences around the world almost as much as its live-action counterparts in cinema.

Interestingly (and ironically) enough, sometimes filming real people can’t capture a story with the “realism” that animation can. That is…

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​Cabinets of awe: Haynes is ‘Wonderstruck’

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | November 24th, 2017

Putting to good use his affinity for period detail, filmmaker Todd Haynes tackles Brian Selznick’s 639-page “Wonderstruck,” with a screenplay adapted by the author.

Weaving together a pair of New York stories that take place half a century apart, Haynes exploits the most cinematic possibilities of Selznick’s visually inclined novel.

Many movie fans will respond favorably to the movie’s dialogue-free homage to silent-era entertainment, a major component of the film aided by…

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Music

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