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Director Damien Chazelle is quickly making a name for himself as the rightful heir to the throne of dramatic cinema. After his mesmerizing 2014 film “Whiplash” set the cinema world abuzz and his 2016 homage to Hollywood artistry and romance “La La Land” made him the youngest-ever recipient of the Academy Award for Best Director, Chazelle has catapulted to the forefront of directorial talent. His next test resides in “First Man,” an intense and engrossing film about astronaut Neil Armstrong and his accomplishment as the first human to walk on the moon. With “First Man,” Chazelle has made another triumphant film that evidences both his innate talent behind the camera as well as his uncanny ability to bring the best out of his on-screen actors.
When one thinks of the quintessential film serial killers, several names come to mind: Jason Voorhees, Freddy Kreuger, Leatherface, etc. However, one name that definitively has secured a place among the great horror movie characters is Michael Myers, “The Shape,” who returned to the big screen in September in this year’s reboot of the 1978 horror movie classic “Halloween.”
I love my Saturday afternoon naps. I really do. Six of the seven Saturdays that I’ve been on campus, I’ve spent buried under a pile of blankets in a coma-like state that I didn’t emerge from for at least three hours. If I don’t have my Saturday afternoon nap, there is a serious possibility I won’t have enough energy to power through the weekend. The one Saturday I didn’t nap was last weekend, when I saw “Bad Times at the El Royale.” Even though I knew very little about the movie and had no real expectations for it, it already had some stiff competition it needed to beat to make the experience worthwhile — because while it had moments of genuine entertainment, it failed to be a better time than a Saturday afternoon nap.
“What a wonderful life I’ve had! I only wish I’d realized it sooner.” – Colette
“Eating Animals” is an important film. Based on the 2009 book of the same name by Jonathan Safran Foer, the documentary explores the subject of the American agricultural industry, a topic that’s often neglected in public discussions, and focuses on the highly troubling issue of the factory farming of poultry and livestock. It is a system whose bread and butter, so to speak, is the brutal and barbaric abuse of animals. However, it is one thing to know this as a fact, but it is an entirely different thing to see it happen.
“The Front Runner,” directed by Jason Reitman of “Juno,” “Up in the Air” and “Tully,” stars Hugh Jackman as U.S. senator Gary Hart during the final three weeks of his 1988 bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. The movie seeks to present the campaign, which is derailed by the reporting of Hart’s affair with Donna Rice (Sara Paxton), as a turning point in our nation’s political sphere wherein a candidate’s personal life is used as a litmus test for their governing ability. Reitman is decidedly on a soapbox, but he does not have a clear stance on whether or not we are better for the investigative reporting that brings cameras into bedrooms and back alleys.
One of my fondest memories of my senior year of high school is when my English class read, performed and studied William Shakespeare’s epic tragedy “King Lear.” At that time, the play captivated me with its stark and honest portrayal of human fallibility and tragic loss and it quickly became one of my favorite works of literature. Naturally, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to watch legendary British actor Ian McKellen star as the titular Lear in a performance broadcast live from London to the Black Family Visual Arts Center this past Sunday evening.
Fame. Depression. Passion. Music. Love. The newest remake of A Star is Born (Cooper, 2018) revolves around these central themes and gives new meaning to each one. Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut features himself as Jackson Maine, an alcoholic country star, and Lady Gaga as Ally, a waitress with a voice of gold.
When I was eight years old, I begged my mom for weeks to let me see “Iron Man.” I remember the excitement I felt when she finally relented and said yes. I saw it opening weekend, and it was everything I dreamed of and more. That moment began a 10-year love affair with superhero movies that, while tested at times, is still going strong. “Venom” is one such movie that tests that love.
There’s crazy, there’s satire, there’s dystopian and then there’s “Sorry to Bother You.” Musician Boots Riley’s 2018 directorial debut takes place in an alternate universe’s Oakland — but don’t let the term “alternate universe” fool you. The film is a funhouse mirror for our world that only reflects everything going on in our reality.
“I have a hangover that is a real museum piece,” Lee Israel writes, imitating writer Dorothy Parker in a particularly famous forgery of Parker’s letters. Israel, a biographer who became a literary forger in the 1990s as her writing career came to a standstill, is the subject of the Telluride selected film, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” Melissa McCarthy gives incredible nuance to her role as Israel, offering both sympathy and humor to her portrayal.
Spike Lee’s latest film, “BlacKkKlansman” is very much a movie created for and about the current American political and racial environment. Though set in the 1970s, Lee’s film is an unsubtle indictment of a Trumpian America that finds itself battling a harsh racial divide despite expectations that our progress and modernity should have left such racism behind long ago.
Directed by and starring Bradley Cooper, and featuring pop supernova Lady Gaga, 2018’s “A Star is Born,” a remake of William Wellman’s 1937 film of the same name, breathes new life into the music drama genre.
“Late at night my mind would come alive with voices and stories and friends as dear to me as any in the real world. I gave myself up to it, longing for transformation,” quips Winona Ryder as the enviable Jo March in the 1994 film adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s coming-of-age classic “Little Women.” Just as Alcott’s Jo sought to find her place in the world, so too does Lara of “Girl” strive to establish herself as a woman and artist. With “Girl,” Flemish director Lukas Dhont offers a more contemporary coming-of-age story whose plot turns on the very idea of self-driven metamorphosis. “Girl,” a deceivingly simple title which contains multitudes, is the story of 15 year-old Lara, a transgender girl from Belgium who, like Jo March, longs for transformation. Lara does not only yearn to change her body, but wants more than anything to become a ballerina. The movie frames a period of major transition for Lara: she’s just moved to a new city, is living in a new apartment, is preparing for transition surgery and has begun training at the prestigious Royal Ballet School of Antwerp.
Starting this Friday, the Hopkins Center for the Arts will screen seven films featured at the annual Telluride Film Festival, beginning with “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” and ending on Sept. 20 with “Free Solo.”
A working-class woman meets an outrageously rich man, and they fall in love in much to the derision and outrage of the man’s family (mostly his mother).
Dear Paul Thomas Anderson,
It’s hard not to ask what the best film of 2017 was, given that the 90th Academy Awards are less than a week away. But if you’re like me, it’s also surprisingly difficult to settle on a definitive answer. About a year ago, I reviewed “Moonlight” and called it the rare, transcendent cinematic experience that I’m lucky to have even once a year. “Moonlight,” to be clear, was precisely that film for 2016. Yet I had no such similar experience in 2017.
There is an old truism that posits that the best superhero films are those that first and foremost aim to be different. For instance, it is often argued that a film like “The Dark Knight” is a cut above other Batman movies because it is constructed as a gritty crime drama, not a superhero adventure flick. While statements like this occasionally rankle die-hard comic book fans, I think it really just speaks to the utterly arbitrary nature of the superhero genre label. Consider that both “The Punisher” and “The Incredibles” are both typically classified as superhero films even though they have next to nothing in common.
As the 90th Academy Awards ceremony draws closer, it’s hard not to compare the various nominees, particularly those in the Best Picture category. After all, cinema does not exist in a vacuum. When one considers “Call Me By Your Name” from that perspective, it does have at least one noteworthy quality that, for better or for worse, distinguishes it from the pack: The film has the ability to haunt the viewer. One leaves the theater enveloped by the film’s narrative and everything it entails, both the good and the bad. “Call Me By Your Name” didn’t move me as much as “Lady Bird”did, nor did it elicit the same visceral bodily reactions as “Dunkirk.” It didn’t make me think as much as “Get Out,” and it wasn’t as beautiful or profoundly simple in its execution compared to Guillermo del Toro’s “The Shape of Water.” But “Call Me By Your Name” stayed with me. In fact, it is still with me — even as I try to write this review, I occasionally find myself not being able to decide how to address my overall experience. For a film that tries so hard to be like a window into reality, it has a surprisingly hallucinatory power.