February 21, 2013 |
The documentary "Stuck" makes a cogent push for adopting needy children from Third World countries but presents such a bleak picture of the maze-like adoption process it may discourage more viewers than it inspires. That's not to say the film, directed and co-shot by Thaddaeus Scheel and narrated by Mariska Hargitay, isn't an involving and moving portrait of devoted parents and their rescued children. But somehow, a seeming lack of conclusive answers or solutions to a complex global problem makes "Stuck" feel more like a work in progress than a completely baked depiction.
February 17, 2013 |
On networks with historical bents, there is always a fair amount of Lincoln-mania this time of year - PBS' "American Experience" just repeated its excellent miniseries "Abraham and Mary Lincoln: A House Divided," - and what with Steven Spielberg's big screen "Lincoln" steadily amassing statuary, it's safe to say, things have reached a fever pitch, putting us well into the counterintuitive stage, i.e., let's have a look at the other guy. "Killing Lincoln,"...
February 14, 2013 |
Nearly 20 years after the death of River Phoenix, the actor's final film, "Dark Blood," screened before an international audience last week at the Berlin International Film Festival. Perhaps the only thing more surprising than the film's tumultuous two-decade journey to completion is the fact that Dutch director George Sluizer, now 80, was able to finish it at all. "Dark Blood," which began production in 1993, survived not only the loss of its leading actor, who died of an accidental drug overdose at age 23 outside a West Hollywood nightclub, but also the near-destruction of the original footage and a life-threatening ailment that struck its director.
January 24, 2013 |
PARK CITY, Utah - A new title has been added to the list of movie credits that describe jobs few people understand. Move over, gaffer, best boy and second second assistant director, and make room for the "written by" credit on an increasing number of documentary films. "It's a niche within a niche," admits Mark Monroe, one of the best. "There's certainly a lot of discussion about whether it belongs or not. It's a question I get asked five times a day. But no one I've ever worked with has ever had any issue with giving me a writing credit.
December 20, 2012 |
"Tchoupitoulas" is a jewel-bright whoosh of a ride through nighttime New Orleans. Embarking on a mission to create "an artifact of an adventure," sibling filmmakers Bill and Turner Ross turned their kinetic lenses on another set of brothers, the adolescent Zanders trio from the city's Algiers neighborhood. From nine months' worth of shooting they've created a single night's story, disjointed in its logic (sometimes it's Mardi Gras, sometimes it isn't) but perfectly coherent in its sensory-immersion chronicle of the boys' peregrinations.
December 20, 2012 |
For anyone who has avoided seeing a Cirque du Soleil show for fear that the world-music soundtrack, fantasy costumes and relentless gymnastic performances would lead to eye-gouging and running for the aisles, the new film "Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away" will likely confirm all those presuppositions. The movie has a vague storyline, as a young woman pursues a male circus performer and they both wind up in an alternate world, but it is mostly just a pretense to feature set-piece performances from seven separate Cirque shows.
November 7, 2012 |
Who is the best player in college football? USC posed the question, in bold type, at the start of a video it released Wednesday to hype one of its stars for the Heisman Trophy and other postseason awards. The subject of the promotion was not Matt Barkley. Sophomore receiver Marqise Lee, coming off spectacular performances against Arizona and Oregon, is the focus of the 1-minute 46-second video. "Strike when the iron's hot," USC sports information director Tim Tessalone explained.
October 29, 2012 |
In the wake of last week's third and final presidential debate, as both campaigns shifted into end-game mode and the conversation tilted toward not what had happened but how it could be spun, I began to think about Joan Didion's “Political Fictions,” a 2001 collection of essays that frames the electoral process as less a matter of facts or policy than the expression of “a series of fables about American experience.” These fables have...
October 28, 2012 |
Building Stories Chris Ware Pantheon: Boxed, unpaged, $50 Chris Ware has been asking us to rethink comics for a long time, since his early days drawing for Art Spiegelman and Françoise Mouly's RAW. He's best known for the 2000 graphic novel "Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth," a multilayered narrative that won several awards, as well as his ongoing comic book series the "Acme Novelty Library. " Still, it's no stretch to suggest that with his new work, "Building Stories," he has upped the ante, pushing comics in a new direction while paying tribute to their history.
October 27, 2012
The day the butterflies were set free in Mark Z. Danielewski's West Hollywood apartment, music was playing, sewing machines were running and swaths of fabric with carefully stitched illustrations for the new edition of his novella "The Fifty Year Sword" were strewn around his living room. He'd painted one wall with magnetic chalkboard paint for sketching patterns and thrown out his couch to make room for the friends who joined his literary sewing circle - though at times, he admits, it seemed more like a literary sweatshop.