Snowden Sep23

Snowden

SNOWDEN Directed by Oliver Stone Written by Kieran Fitzgerald Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley, Melissa Leo, Zachary Qunito, Rhys Ifans, Nicholas Cage Much of the “drama” in SNOWDEN occurs during the hours he was holed up in a hotel room in Hong Kong with documentary-maker Laura Poitras and reporter, Glenn Greenwald waiting for the information found on his files to be broadcast. This was well told in the documentary of last year, CITIZENFOUR. The rest of the film, SNOWDEN, tells how he came to be a whistleblower (or traitor), depending on your point of view. Stone paints him as a completely heroic, unnuanced,...

SOUTHSIDE WITH YOU Reviewed Sep16

SOUTHSIDE WITH YOU Reviewed

SOUTHSIDE WITH YOU Directed and Written by Richard Tanne Starring: Tika Sumpter and Parker Sawyers If Barack Obama were running for his second term this year, this would fall into the category of a campaign film. It offers little in the way of a critique of either Michelle Robinson or Barack Obama. Both are seem through the hazy summer light of 1989. Yet we don’t mind. Or at least I didn’t. It was perfect late summer viewing and a fine two-hander from two actors I haven’t seen before. This was the summer they met: Michelle, a second-year associate at a Chicago law firm and Obama, a summer intern. The movie details their...

HELL OR HIGH WATER Reviewed Sep02

HELL OR HIGH WATER Reviewed

Hell or High Water Directed by David Mackenzie Written by Taylor Sheridan Starring: Chris Pine, Ben Foster,  Jeff Bridges, Gil Birmingham Hell or High Water makes a good case for the notion that a Western can be as relevant today as ever. Several times I had to remind myself that it was a contemporary film because west Texas looks much the same as it did in The Last Picture Show. And it nearly looks the same as fifty years earlier. Poor, dusty, desolate, and yet a good cinematographer (Giles Nuttgens ) can find beauty in it. Toby and Tanner (Pine and Foster) have been separated for years by Tanner’s jail sentence. On his release, they...

FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS Reviewed Aug26

FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS Reviewed

Director: Stephen Frears Writer: Nicholas Martin Stars: Meryl Streep, Hugh Grant, Simon Helberg Three-time Oscar winner, Meryl Streep stars in FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS, the story of a woman who couldn’t sing but didn’t know it. The film is truly a three-hander because Streep is given immense help by Hugh Grant (her husband) and Simon Helberg (her pianist). On paper, this film would seem to be about the narcissism of a rich woman. Or the ways in which her husband feeds this vanity for personal gains, or the way a no-name pianist earns a tidy salary going along with the stunt. But, in fact, it’s a movie about kindness. And as...

2016 Traverse City Film Festival Aug13

2016 Traverse City Film Festival

Traverse City Film Festival The 2016 Traverse City Film Festival began on July 25 and ended on July 30. Michael Moore and his crew did something no mainstream festival has ever done in this country —100% of the films in the Official US Section of the festival (fiction and documentary) were from women directors. The 12th annual festival screened 120 feature films and 107 shorts, welcomed over 123,000 admissions across the festival’s 12 different venues, offered classes in its TCFF Film School, and held panels, parties and podcasts throughout a week that saw a record high of 175 filmmakers bring their films from around the world and across...