Cinema

Kotevska and Stefanov Score Oscar Nomination with Golden ‘Honeyland’

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | January 22nd, 2020

Nearly one year ago, Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov’s stunning documentary “Honeyland” collected a trio of awards following its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. Those accolades, including special jury recognition for both cinematography and “Impact for Change,” as well as a Grand Jury Prize, were the first indicators of the film’s critical potential. The recent announcement of an Oscar nomination marks the conclusion of a successful journey that features…

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A Master Looks Back: ‘Varda by Agnes’

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | January 15th, 2020

The death on March 29, 2019 of Agnes Varda concluded a career perpetually in bloom. The legendary artist and filmmaker, unmistakable in later years under her wonderfully cartoonish yet delightfully chic two-tone coiffure, was 90 years old but operated agelessly. Working to the end with future projects in queue, Varda shares directorial credit on swan song and retrospective “Varda by Agnes” with Didier Rouget. The pair of one-hour episodes combine clips with new images and selections…

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Takal Celebrates ‘Black Christmas’

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | December 23rd, 2019

Filmmaker Sophia Takal’s reimagining of Bob Clark’s 1974 slasher classic “Black Christmas” improves on a tepid 2006 remake by Glen Morgan without finding the weird alchemy of the original. Sharing screenplay duties with April Wolfe, Takal may not have managed a definitive version, but she should be credited with constructing a genre entry interested in the feminist exploration and expression of ideas that reach beyond superficial blood and gore exploitation. Playing with…

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March On: Gerwig’s Very Own ‘Little Women’

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | December 23rd, 2019

Greta Gerwig continues to exercise her command of cinematic storytelling with “Little Women,” a perfectly wrapped and beribboned Christmas gift as welcome as a steaming cup of cocoa after a frosty skate around the local frozen pond. Proving wrong many skeptics who initially questioned her choice of post-”Lady Bird” material, Gerwig deftly adjusts the contents of Louisa May Alcott’s much-loved, oft-filmed tale through a skillful chronological reorganization that allows her to…

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​Jennifer Kent Sings a Bloody Song in ‘The Nightingale’

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | December 11th, 2019

Screenshot of The Nightingale'

By Greg Carlson
gregcarlson1@gmail.com

Jennifer Kent’s “The Nightingale” will not attract the same cult following or breadth of widespread fan devotion as “The Babadook,” but her latest marks significant progress in the filmmaker’s command of story and cinematic language. Harrowing, painful, and -- for those viewers who walked out of festival screenings -- unrelentingly bleak, “The Nightingale” draws from a number of inspired sources in Kent’s original tale of Irish…

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​Love on the Run

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | December 4th, 2019

Queen & Slim screenshot

The politics of race in contemporary America inform the text and subtext of “Queen & Slim,” a vivid feature debut from music video director Melina Matsoukas. Described so often in “The Player”-style shorthand as “Bonnie and Clyde meets Black Lives Matter” that the tag unfairly deflates some of the character-based nuance surrounding the love-on-the-run tragedy of the central duo, Matsoukas’ stylish road movie should be destined for cult status as an object of cool. Unlike…

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​Heller Does Mister Rogers for Grown-Ups in ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | November 26th, 2019

Neighborhood screenshot

Of the three feature films directed by Marielle Heller, all of which are based in one way or another on biographical source material, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” is the least successful. But that opinion doesn’t mean her newest work is a bust; the movie’s curiosity about the blurry lines between childhood innocence and grown-up cynicism rhymes with similar themes in “The Diary of a Teenage Girl.” And the exploration of authenticity and role-playing, central to…

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​Bong’s ‘Parasite’ Infiltrates Year-End Best Movies Lists

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | November 20th, 2019

Parasite screenshot

“Parasite” will be the top-grossing foreign-language film at the 2019 American box office, and deservedly so. Joon-ho Bong’s most satisfying and accomplished movie since “Mother” in 2009, “Parasite” is the first Korean film to win the Cannes Film Festival’s Palme d’Or. A perfectly-tuned, midnight-black fairy tale of two families -- one wealthy, one struggling -- Bong’s story treats poverty, class, and class warfare in parallel brushstrokes to the literal…

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​Mike Flanagan Does King by Way of Kubrick in ‘Doctor Sleep’

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | November 13th, 2019

Doctor Sleep screenshot

Nearly forty years after Stanley Kubrick’s classic horror film conjured thousands of nightmares, director Mike Flanagan wakes up the belated sequel “Doctor Sleep,” the strongest work of his promising career. Smartly striking a balance between the iconic status of Kubrick’s sound and vision and the Stephen King signatures that spread out to connect many people, places, and things — as seen, for example, in Andy Muschietti’s sprawling telling of “It” — Flanagan threads the…

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​Eggers Unlocks ‘The Lighthouse’

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | November 6th, 2019

Screenshot of The Lighthouse

Fans of Robert Eggers’ brilliant feature debut “The Witch” have been waiting impatiently for “The Lighthouse,” and while the filmmaker decidedly avoids any kind of sophomore slide, the new movie will probably not attract the widespread fervor and devotion bestowed upon Black Phillip, Thomasin, and company. In “The Witch,” Eggers applied dialect evoking 1630s New England, and “The Lighthouse” follows suit with some wonderfully inscrutable 19th-century nautical nonsense.…

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