Movie Review: VICE: You ain’t seen nothin’ yet, but there’s nothin’ aplenty

Movie Review: VICE: You ain’t seen nothin’ yet, but there’s nothin’ aplenty

Vice is a film about Dick Cheney and his partner in crime Lynne, to be sure, but it’s also about the way we talk about history, how we know what we know, how we fill in the gaps in our partial knowledge with our own fictions, and who has a voice in creating historical narratives.

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Movie Review – BLACKkKLANSMAN

Movie Review – BLACKkKLANSMAN

In Blackkklansman, a movie with a title that makes it sound like it’s a Mel Brooks high concept farce from the 1970’s, Spike Lee Has dipped back into historical events that began in 1978 to hold the mirror up to the dangerous racial chaos of America in 2018. And it’s no farce. At the same time, both Lee’s film and the book of the same name on which it is based, a memoir by a black undercover police detective, Ron Stallworth, working in Colorado Springs, do create cognitive dissonance. A black man in the Klan? How?

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Movie Review — BEING JULIA: Madame Has a Beer

Movie Review — BEING JULIA: Madame Has a Beer

Being Julia ( 2004) is a dazzling, fourteen year old romantic comedy whose time has come for a closer look. Based on a Somerset Maugham novella, Theatre, and set in 1938 London, at first glance it seems to be the essence of what has become offensive to progressive people. Successful British actress, Julia Lambert lives in a bubble of class privilege and audience adulation, to the exclusion of all else in society. But, don’t turn away. Being Julia offers an opportunity for feminists to mine unexpected gold and to examine our own prejudices and myopia.

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Movie Review: THE DEATH OF STALIN

Movie Review: THE DEATH OF STALIN

In a perfect farcical fusion of pain and laughter, The Death Of Stalin presents us with images of the men who held the highest positions in the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin as they absurdly perform all kinds of physical and verbal contortions not only to curry favor with the dictator, but also, once he is dead, to curry favor with anyone because the habit of mindless kowtowing is so deeply ingrained.

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New York Film Festival Review: THE FAVOURITE

New York Film Festival Review: THE FAVOURITE

Have you ever wondered what sexual politics would be like in a matriarchy? In their rompin’ stompin’ film, The Favourite, shown as the opening night feature for this year’s New York Film Festival, director Yorgos Lanthimos and writers Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara, give you space to imaginatively explore that possibility.

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KEEPING UP WITH HUGH GRANT

KEEPING UP WITH HUGH GRANT

On IMDb.com, a biographical note by Steve Shelokhonov, who has made his mark, such as it is, as the author of IMDb mini-biographies, describes Hugh Grant as an actor known for “playing characters projecting warmth and sincere happiness.” It’s not an important piece of scholarship, but it is widely read, due to its venue, and it is, unfortunately, typical of the kind of entertainment journalism that promotes reductive stereotypes of star reputations.

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Movie Review: BLACK PANTHER, Wakonda Forever!

Movie Review: BLACK PANTHER, Wakonda Forever!

Full disclosure: I don’t like superhero movies as a rule and might not have seen Black Panther for years if I hadn’t been bored during a flight to Seattle. Thus, I am late to the parade of journalists and academics offering their opinions about it, but I hope not too late to ask you to join me in a march to a somewhat different drummer, as I comment on the subtext of this movie devised by Joe Robert Cole, writer, and Ryan Coogler, writer/director.

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Movie Review — THE SQUARE : Conflicts between Civilization and Chaos

Movie Review — THE SQUARE : Conflicts between Civilization and Chaos

Swedish director Ruben Östlund explores the nature of art, the relationship between art and life, but most of all whether human nature is wired to fulfill the ideals of openness and inclusiveness that The Square embodies, a question that is particularly sensitive, painful, and timely as we battle the duly elected (?) fascist who is now in the White House.

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REPRESENTING TRUMP

REPRESENTING TRUMP

The recent furor about Oskar Eustis’ open air production of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar in New York City in which Caesar was dressed up to look like Donald Trump and Calpurnia had a Slavic accent started me thinking about the larger issue of imaginatively representing the current occupant of the White House. There is an obvious desire to reflect on the terrible plight of America under the Trump administration through humor and storytelling, and our friends around the world support that inclination.

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Movie Review — JACKIE: The Power of Cheap Music

Movie Review — JACKIE:  The Power of Cheap Music

Working within several time frames, Pablo Larrain’s new film, Jackie, starring Nathalie Portman in the title role, recounts the way Jacqueline Kennedy dealt with the terrible days right after the assassination of President Kennedy, and also how in retrospect she came to think about her role and that historical moment. The film adopts a low key, talking-head rhetoric about the woman, her trials and tribulations, and the ordeal the United States went through. But it ends with the (inordinately) triumphant strains of the final song from the Broadway musical Camelot, as Richard Burton sings, “Don’t let it be forgot/That once there was a spot/For one brief shining moment/ That was known as Camelot.” What are we to make of this ecstatic explosion of kitsch as the culmination of an essentially quiet film about one of the most wrenching episodes in modern American history?

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