November 15, 2012 |
Director Steven Spielberg, screenwriter Tony Kusher and the incomparable Daniel Day-Lewis may have done the impossible in "Lincoln": They've given us a politician to love - without reservations. Drawing on historian Doris Kearns Goodwin's expansive "Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln," the filmmaking collective conjures up a portrait of a far more nuanced leader than the stoic country lawyer in a stove-pipe hat. Indeed, the strength of the film rests in the strength of the character - a whimsical raconteur, a brilliant strategist and a troubled humanist.
May 16, 2013 |
Two years, two states. In 2009, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad laid out a plan to end the decades-long territorial stalemate between Israel and the Palestinians. But by 2011, despite Fayyad's efforts, including a successful campaign to improve Palestinians' economic and institutional infrastructure - a kind of "if you build it, statehood will come" - the situation remained deadlocked. This period of hope, progress, frustration and fracture is examined with equanimity and clarity by Israeli filmmaker Dan Setton in the absorbing documentary "State 194. " Setton focuses on the seemingly level-headed, optimistic Fayyad as he navigated the choppy waters of domestic politics and international diplomacy while pressing the United Nations for statehood and to make it its 194th member nation.
June 8, 2010
Critics' Choices Babies In this joyous and buoyant new documentary, the filmmakers keep the baby — and the bathwater — and everything else about infants that makes them so appealing that the rest of us keep making more of them. Squalls are few, colic doesn't exist, neither does disease, diaper rash, or diapers at all for that matter as director Thomas Balmes traces the first year in the lives of four infants from four corners of the world. The sweet-smelling "Babies" is a very huggable movie experience, just not a primer on parenthood.
January 2, 2014 |
The holiday season brings quality cinema entries. But sometimes one leaves the theater thinking, "That was good, but it could have been better" Or perhaps, "That was good, but it could have been better if filmmakers were a little more open to other influences. " Here, then, are a few suggestions for alternate titles, holiday hits that could have been slightly more enjoyable if only their filmmakers had paid attention to a few of the other movies out there. Hollywood executives these days like spinoffs and brand extensions, so we wouldn't be surprised if some of these end up at the multiplex in Christmas seasons to come.
May 9, 2009
Re "The Mighty '39ers" by Susan King, May 6: Listing those movies released in 1939 makes me wonder whatever happened to the movie industry. How could we have gone from those stellar films ("Gone With the Wind," "The Wizard of Oz," "Stagecoach," etc.) to the "destroy/kill/maim/kill again" kind of movies I see advertised now? Yes, I am old enough to have seen each of these movies. How I long for these kinds of movies again. Carol Marshall Anaheim :: Re "Claws and All" by Kenneth Turan, April 30: What has happened to American culture when a leading and respected movie critic of the L.A. Times can wax rhapsodic over an alleged motion picture ("X-Men Origins")
April 6, 2010 |
The 1930 movie musical "Mammy" is an important -- if almost shockingly racially insensitive -- piece in the canon of the legendary Al Jolson's career. "Mammy" stars "The World's Greatest Entertainer" -- a moniker Jolson had for 40 years -- in his only feature that was shot partly in early two-strip Technicolor. The score was by the legendary Irving Berlin and includes the standard "Let Me Sing and I'm Happy." The film was directed by Michael Curtiz, who later won an Oscar for "Casablanca."