How is “Call me by your name” a masterpiece? Let me count the ways

Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer
Directed by Luca Guadagnino

More than thirty years after his first Oscar nomination, James Ivory has finally been honored with his first win at the Oscars on Sunday, that of Best Adapted Screenplay, for "Call Me by Your Name." In his acceptance speech, Ivory called the film, about first love, “a story familiar to most of us, whether we’re straight or gay or somewhere in between.”  [James Ivory previously got nominations for ... more >


A.J. GOLDMANN’s Berlinale recap: “Madeline’s Madeline” and “Waldheim’s Waltz” stand out

(featured image: "Madeline's Madeline") After nearly four hundred films screening over ten days to 21,000 accredited guests and a third of a million ticket buyers, the Berlin International Film Festival drew to a close this past Sunday. The 68th installment of Europe’s largest film festival was a robust edition, with an unusually-high number of worthy films spread over the Berlinale’s dozen ... more >


Gary Oldman is awesome in “Darkest Hour”

Gary Oldman, Lily James and Kristin Scott Thomas
Directed by Joe Wright

In “Darkest hour,” what Gary Oldman’s Churchill has to contend with in a time of war reminded me of what a newspaper editor does: tense negotiations, the reworking of sentences, an overarching need to get the message out, loudly and clearly. The real context of the story, the history, is, evidently, a very different one from this. In the early forties European countries were falling like dominoes ... more >


LETTER FROM INDIA – “The Power of Melodrama”

Growing up, one remembers longing for our cinema to become more realistic, or at the very least a little less ridiculous. At one stage, virtually every film made was a lost-and-found potboiler that featured more or less the same dialogues. We have got our wish to a certain extent. The films of today try harder to tell a single story, populate them with characters that go beyond Kishan and Bishan, ... more >


DRAMA/MYSTERY: “Murder on the Orient Express

Penelope Cruz, Willem Dafoe and Judi Dench

By now, film adaptations based on the oeuvre of the two most prolific British writers of crime fiction, Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie, form a respectable body. Of the latter, probably the best-known work remains “Murder on the Orient Express.” Today comes a new version by the, himself now almost venerable, Brit actor, Kenneth Branagh. From the get-go in this iteration, the ... more >


NEW RELEASE: Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House

Liam Neeson, Diane Lane and Marton Csokas
Directed by Peter Landesman

Do sleeping dogs lie forever? The question can be asked about Peter Landesman’s biopic of Mark Felt, the FBI agent who leaked drop after drop of damning information regarding the Watergate burglary to Bod Woodward and Carl Bernstein of the Washington Post, until they turned into a flood that drowned Nixon and acolytes in 1974. If one relies on the story as it is told here, the dogs will indeed ... more >


LETTER FROM PARIS – The culture feast

All of the above-mentioned films are in theaters in France now

Were I ever tempted to leave Paris and pitch my tent in a warmer city, a city where it doesn’t rain as often, where skies are bluer and inhabitants smile, I only need to look back on this last week to realize that I could never live elsewhere (but I already know that.) So how did that week go? I saw three films: “Le Redoutable,” about New Wave cinema founder Jean-Luc Godard, “Young Karl Marx,” ... more >