Cinema

​‘Poly Styrene: I Am a Cliché’ Considers the Punk Legend From Her Daughter’s Perspective

January 15th, 2023

By Greg Carlson

gregcarlson1@gmail.com

With co-director Paul Sng, Celeste Bell celebrates the legacy of her mother Marianne Elliott-Said – known better to the world as the inimitable X-Ray Spex leader Poly Styrene – in an intimate documentary that is part memoir and part biography.

Balancing the private and the public sides of the musician’s complex and complicated life, the filmmakers use their unprecedented access to cover both well-known and lesser-known dimensions of Poly…

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​‘The Eternal Daughter,’ Another Fantastic Hogg/Swinton

January 8th, 2023

By Greg Carlson

gregcarlson1@gmail.com

Just as “Aftersun” explores the contours of a father-daughter relationship, Joanna Hogg’s “The Eternal Daughter” laser-focuses on the particulars of a parent-child bond. In this case, Hogg’s longtime friend, collaborator, and all-around force of nature Tilda Swinton plays both mother and daughter in a film linked to Hogg’s “Souvenir” series as a kind of spiritual/spirited sequel.

In an interview with David Sims in which the notion…

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​Aftersun: Charlotte Wells’s Debut Feature Among Best of 2022

January 7th, 2023

By Greg Carlson

gregcarlson1@gmail.com

Shimmering like a mirage that retreats and dematerializes the closer one gets, “Aftersun” may just be the best movie of 2022. The self-described “emotionally autobiographical” feature debut of Scottish writer-director Charlotte Wells, the film is a treasure for those viewers who prefer ambiguity and understatement.

The deceptively straightforward story follows the low-key father-daughter holiday of 11-year-old Sophie (Frankie Corio) and…

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​Conspicuous Consumption: Baumbach Takes on “White Noise”

January 7th, 2023

By Greg Carlson

gregcarlson1@gmail.com

Noah Baumbach’s ambitious, hysterical adaptation of Don DeLillo’s famously “unfilmable” modern classic “White Noise” is – given the bona fides of the source material – certain to divide opinion. For the supporters, the director’s cinephilia sparks and shimmers from one giddy moment to the next. Nobody will overlook the homage to Godard’s “Weekend,” but the filmmaker just as enthusiastically embraces the 1980s-era Spielbergian…

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​Schrader Dramatizes a Contemporary Reckoning in ‘She Said’

January 7th, 2023

By Greg Carlson

gregcarlson1@gmail.com

Few reviews of Maria Schrader’s sturdy “She Said” go without mentioning “All the President's Men” and “Spotlight.” The new film, in line to pick up some award season recognition on the basis of its subject matter alone, follows the work of Pulitzer-winning New York Times reporters Megan Twohey (played by Carey Mulligan) and Jodi Kantor (played by Zoe Kazan) as they doggedly pursue on-the-record confirmation of the sexual misconduct,…

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​Singin’ in the Hurricane: Chazelle Takes Us to Wild, Old Hollywood in ‘Babylon’

December 18th, 2022

By Greg Carlson

gregcarlson1@gmail.com

How many “Babylon” reviews and essays will at some point use the words orgiastic and overlong to describe Damien Chazelle’s raucous Hollywood fable? To date, the filmmaker remains the youngest winner of the Oscar for Best Director, which he received for “La La Land” during a ceremony enshrined in Academy legend for the embarrassing Best Picture envelope gaffe at the end of the telecast. That film, which also mines movie-mad dreamscapes,…

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​Elvis Mitchell Asks ‘Is That Black Enough for You?!?’

December 15th, 2022

By Greg Carlson

gregcarlson1@gmail.com

Veteran critic Elvis Mitchell’s excellent documentary/essay “Is That Black Enough for You?!?” gazes deeply and lovingly at the rich and varied historical contributions of African American film artists, focusing especially on the vibrant and tumultuous 1970s. Extending beyond Blaxploitation to consider the complete cinematic spectrum from independent productions to the output of the major studios, Mitchell’s guided tour is every bit as…

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​A Portrait of the Portrait Artist: ‘All the Beauty and the Bloodshed’

November 27th, 2022

By Greg Carlson

gregcarlson1@gmail.com

“Citizenfour” Oscar-winner Laura Poitras profiles photographer and activist Nan Goldin in “All the Beauty and the Bloodshed.”

Like its talented subject, the movie cannot be confined to a single category or story arc. Along with a penetrating, candid examination of Goldin’s career trajectory, the film spends considerable time on the artist’s efforts to hold Purdue Pharma and members of the Sackler family accountable for the overprescribing…

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​Dunham Adapts ‘Catherine Called Birdy’

November 17th, 2022

By Greg Carlson

gregcarlson1@gmail.com

Premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, “Catherine Called Birdy” lands on Amazon Prime Video following a short theatrical window.

One of two 2022 films directed by the perpetually controversial Lena Dunham, the medieval bildungsroman was a labor of love based on the filmmaker’s professed affection for Karen Cushman’s 1994 Newbery Honor Book. Dunham, who also adapted the novel for the screen, delivers the most…

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​‘The Pez Outlaw’ Dispenses Entertaining Tale

November 17th, 2022

By Greg Carlson

gregcarlson1@gmail.com

Amy Bandlien Storkel and Bryan Storkel dispense delights of all kinds in their breezy documentary “The Pez Outlaw,” an imaginative portrait of wily entrepreneur Steve Glew. A single-minded obsession with the colorful candy containers sets the stage for a tongue-in-cheek drama that casts Glew as himself in a series of “Unsolved Mysteries”-meets-Wes Anderson reenactments. Some viewers may not receive the title subject’s idiosyncratic…

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