Cinema

It’s a Death Defyin’ Life: ‘The Fall Guy’

May 6th, 2024

The undeniable chemistry between stars Emily Blunt and Ryan Gosling in David Leitch’s “The Fall Guy” is a significant selling point in what is surely one of the most heavily marketed movies of the year. A mashup of the rom-com and the action/crime thriller, Leitch’s latest is an inside-baseball wink and a frisky and frolicsome spree that gets a lot of mileage from its additional genre status as a movie-quoting Hollywood metanarrative. Loosely based on the 1981 to 1986 ABC series…

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​I told ya: Guadagnino Serves Up ‘Challengers’

April 30th, 2024

By Greg Carlson

gregcarlson1@gmail.com

“I’m not a homewrecker,” insists Zendaya’s Tashi Duncan as she prematurely ends a three-way encounter involving doubles partners and best pals Art Donaldson (Mike Faist) and Patrick Zweig (Josh O’Connor). Tashi’s instincts will hold serve throughout Luca Guadagnino’s sweaty, sexy, and ridiculously entertaining “Challengers.” Guadagnino’s fascinating, enviable filmography is stocked with triumphs large and small. From 2009…

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​‘Sasquatch Sunset’ glows with the witty touch of the Zellner brothers

April 22nd, 2024

By Greg Carlson

gregcarlson1@gmail.com

Surely one of the year’s unlikeliest and most wondrous theatrical experiences, “Sasquatch Sunset,” from beloved indie storytellers David and Nathan Zellner, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival to a range of critical responses that match the breadth of the film’s own expansive agenda. Following a quartet of hairy hominids — of the familiar bipedal cryptid sort that has fueled legends of Bigfoot and Yeti in cultures around the world — …

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​Meet the dads and moms of Oppenheim’s ‘Spermworld’

April 15th, 2024

By Greg Carlson

gregcarlson1@gmail.com

Documentarian Lance Oppenheim’s “Spermworld” boasts a killer hook to attract the curious: unregulated sperm donors who use social media to offer services to women unhappy with the options provided by traditional “banks.” The filmmaker’s latest feature was inspired by the 2021 New York Times article by Nellie Bowles titled “The Sperm Kings Have a Problem: Too Much Demand.” Using a range of techniques that often mirror the way dramatic…

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​Buckley and Colman Write ‘Wicked Little Letters’

April 8th, 2024

By Greg Carlson

gregcarlson1@gmail.com

Nobody will mistake director Thea Sharrock’s undercooked “Wicked Little Letters” for Henri-Georges Clouzot’s 1943 “Le Corbeau.” Or, for that matter, Otto Preminger’s “Le Corbeau” remake “The 13th Letter” (1951). The poison pen concept has fueled many film plots, and this latest iteration at least has the good sense (or fortune) to feature first-rate performances by Jessie Buckley and Olivia Colman, along with a sturdy…

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Breaking Glass: ‘Love Lies Bleeding’ shows big promise

April 3rd, 2024

By Greg Carlson

gregcarlson1@gmail.com

In Sundance standout “Love Lies Bleeding,” filmmaker Rose Glass improves on all the promises announced in her 2021 debut “Saint Maud.” While “Maud” explored the familiar territory of the psychological horror thriller, “Love Lies Bleeding” mines the fertile grit of the neo-noir. Working with a cast of well-known performers, Glass fashions the story of a menacing criminal’s daughter and her desperate romance with a musclebound…

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​Collecting Movies With J.D. Shields

March 22nd, 2024

By Greg Carlson

gregcarlson1@gmail.com

Writer-director J.D. Shields, whose television credits include work on “Emperor of Ocean Park” and “The Company You Keep,” has also written for DreamWorks TV Animation, Wondery, and Sony Pictures Entertainment. J.D. has also participated in the Disney Writing Program, the HBO Access Writing Program, Film Independent’s Project Involve and the American Film Institute's Directing Workshop for Women.

Her BAFTA-qualified short film “Blue…

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The Prank: Moreno earns her teacher’s salary in otherwise weak horror-comedy

March 19th, 2024

By Greg Carlson

gregcarlson1@gmail.com

The chief reason to see “The Prank,” a lumpy and unappetizing stew that could use a lot more salt, is legend Rita Moreno. The now 92-year-old phenomenon and EGOT winner (who was also the first Latin American woman to collect an acting Oscar) continues to perform like an unstoppable force. As the last working star who appeared in “Singin’ in the Rain,” Moreno links the present to Hollywood’s shimmering past. In 2021, she was the subject…

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Villeneuve keeps the spice flowing in ‘Dune: Part Two’

March 11th, 2024

By Greg Carlson

gregcarlson1@gmail.com

Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune: Part Two” concludes, for the most part, the adaptation of Frank Herbert’s original 1965 science fiction epic while (inevitably?) making room for a further onscreen investigation of “Dune Messiah,” the sequel Herbert described as the inversion of the first section’s “heroic melody.” Even at two hours and forty-five minutes, Villeneuve’s version, which he wrote with Jon Spaihts, truncates and streamlines…

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Gutiérrez Examines the Life of Kahlo in Documentary ‘Frida’

March 4th, 2024

Veteran editor Carla Gutiérrez’s new documentary “Frida,” on the subject of the famed painter whose star has continued to shine with blinding incandescence since a 1980s popular cultural renaissance, premiered to mixed reviews at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival in January. At Sundance, Gutiérrez’s film received the festival's Jonathan Oppenheim Editing Award in the U.S. Documentary category, and the movie’s combination of archival photographs, stock footage, journal entries,…

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