Cinema

Payne and Giamatti Reunite for ‘The Holdovers’

November 12th, 2023

By Greg Carlson

gregcarlson1@gmail.com

Focus Features gets a nifty opening credits layout as part of a throwback sequence capitalizing on the heavy New Hollywood nostalgia that suffuses Alexander Payne’s comic melodrama “The Holdovers.”

Reuniting with “Sideways” star Paul Giamatti, Payne’s new movie is his first feature since the bizarre 2017 sci-fi misfire “Downsizing.” Closer in spirit to the more intimate emotional nakedness of “Nebraska,” “The Holdovers” lacks…

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Keep the Home Fires Burning: Coppola Imagines ‘Priscilla’

November 5th, 2023

By Greg Carlson

gregcarlson1@gmail.com

Several reports discussing behind-the-scenes communications and differences of opinion between Priscilla Presley (credited as one of the new film’s executive producers), the late Lisa Marie Presley (who died in January), and others with financial and personal interests in the legacy of Elvis add a fascinating intertextual layer to Sofia Coppola’s “Priscilla.”

The movie’s title and the director’s filmography should offer strong indications…

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Fourth Reichardt-Williams Collaboration: All About ‘Showing Up’

October 31st, 2023

By Greg Carlson

gregcarlson1@gmail.com

Despite accusations that not a lot happens in “Showing Up,” the Kelly Reichardt feature starring Michelle Williams that debuted at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival, admirers of the brilliant filmmaker’s impressive oeuvre won’t be dissuaded from spending time in the Reichardt cinematic universe.

Reichardt’s feel for and investment in carefully observed minimalism has invited frequent critical placement within the slow cinema movement, but her…

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​Martin Scorsese Examines Grim Racist History: ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’

October 22nd, 2023

By Greg Carlson

gregcarlson1@gmail.com

Doing press for “Killers of the Flower Moon,” Martin Scorsese has defended the movie’s three and a half hour running time (presented during its theatrical engagement with no intermission), but the results on the screen do the real talking.

The master director’s latest American original – a sturdy blend of genres and conventions including the Western, the “based on a true story” lesson and history-by-suggestion, the family epic, the…

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Tugboats and Tugged Hearts: Rebecca Miller’s ‘She Came to Me’

October 16th, 2023

By Greg Carlson

gregcarlson1@gmail.com

Peter Dinklage plays a creatively blocked opera composer married to Anne Hathaway’s frustrated therapist in Rebecca Miller’s “She Came to Me,” a lighthearted if lightweight film that depends heavily on the outsize talents of its ensemble as it circles issues of love, freedom, and commitment to self and others.

On the way to becoming decidedly unblocked, Dinklage’s Steven meets tugboat captain Katrina (Marisa Tomei, making it work), whose…

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You Beautiful Doll: Gardner’s ‘Living With Chucky’ a Family Affair

October 8th, 2023

By Greg Carlson

gregcarlson1@gmail.com

Kyra Elise Gardner, the daughter of special effects legend Tony Gardner, writes and directs “Living With Chucky,” an affectionate labor-of-love account covering the long evolution of the “Child’s Play” horror franchise.

Beginning in 1988, the series built a devoted cult following around the popularity of Chucky, the seemingly innocent toy inhabited by the soul of a foul-mouthed serial killer and psychopath voiced by the great Brad Dourif.…

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Sweet Autumn Treat: Anderson Shares ‘Sugar’ and Three More on Netflix

October 1st, 2023

By Greg Carlson

gregcarlson1@gmail.com

As reactions and reviews of Wes Anderson’s return to the world of Roald Dahl attest, the quartet of short story adaptations undoubtedly would have been better experienced as a theatrical omnibus akin to “The French Dispatch” rather than the one-a-day releases selected for streaming by Netflix, where the set now resides.

At 40 minutes, “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar” – which enjoyed a Venice Film Festival premiere at the beginning of…

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Castel’s ‘My Animal’ a Fresh Take on the Werewolf Movie

September 24th, 2023

By Greg Carlson

gregcarlson1@gmail.com

Filmmaker Jacqueline Castel’s “My Animal” premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival in January, but its vibes are better suited to the rising blood moon of autumn’s spooky season.

Now available on major streaming services following a brief theatrical run in select cinemas, Castel’s feature directorial debut is poised to scratch the itch of discerning horror hounds who appreciate slow-burn smarts as much as gory violence.

The film’s…

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Schrader Concludes His ‘Man in a Room’ Trilogy with ‘Master Gardener’

September 21st, 2023

By Greg Carlson

gregcarlson1@gmail.com

Many films have used the unsettling revelation of tattoos as a device to startle the viewer with a visual roadmap to a deeper understanding of character. The “love” and “hate” lettering across the knuckles of Robert Mitchum’s Reverend Harry Powell in “The Night of the Hunter,” in the context of the character’s chilling speech, still inspires nightmares. In “Cape Fear,” Mitchum’s Lieutenant Elgart quips of Robert De Niro’s Max…

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‘Bottoms’ Up: Seligman and Sennott Re-Team for Wild Comedy

September 17th, 2023

By Greg Carlson

gregcarlson1@gmail.com

Rachel Sennott and Ayo Edebiri play best pals PJ and Josie, woebegone nerds hot for cheerleaders Brittany (Kaia Gerber) and Isabel (Havana Rose Liu) in a high school caste system that looks and feels quite familiar to fans of the durable teen sex comedy.

In “Bottoms,” directed by Emma Seligman – who co-wrote the screenplay with her “Shiva Baby” star Sennott – the satire, the visual gags, the gross-outs, and the gusto combine to form one…

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