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MOVIE REVIEW: “1917”

Mission impossible for real
Dean-Charles Chapman, George MacKay and Daniel Mays
Directed by Sam Mendes

Sam Mendes’s name for his film is right. It hits you in the face with the mud, blood and gloom that was there, heavily, relentlessly, during that terrible year following three years of horror and followed by an even worse one. Out of this war that Mendes described as “a chaos of mismanagement and tragedy,” he has made a war movie like none other. Eschewing regular scripts for war films, the ... more >

OPINION: What happened to chronology?

Directors resort to the flashback too indulgently, it would seem

Introducing in a narrative flashbacks, fragments of dreams, partially remembered scenes has always been part and parcel of cinema. Examples abound. Look at classic films. The childhood sled scenes in “Citizen Kane” are indispensable. As is the famous flashback explaining the Gregory Peck character’s trauma in “Spellbound." The process works, when it is used within reasonable limits. When repeated ... more >

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BEST OF 2019: “Tel Aviv On Fire,” “This Must Be Heaven” and others make this film critic’s year

"Tel Aviv on Fire" (directed by Sameh Zoabi) (featured image) This Israeli film by Sameh Zoabi, an Arab Israeli, comes to us boasting a number of awards but that doesn’t prepare us for the treat of this thoroughly enjoyable and unpretentious story [...] (full review) "Pain and Glory" (directed by Pedro Almodovar) Antonio Banderas, in one of his most attaching roles ever (Banderas’s American ... more >

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Brad Pitt sets off in search of a father in mesmerizing “Ad Astra”

The universe is big, lest we forget
Brad Pitt, Tommy Lee Jones and Ruth Negga
Directed by James Gray

“Ad astra,” the new film by James Gray, is more meditation than story. The title (one half of the latin phrase “per aspera ad astra” or “through hardships to the stars”) is apt given the amount of time travel and the fascinating hardware that allows it, though the tale meanders, causing some confusion. With various stellar transportation modes, it takes us from one distant planet to the next ... more >

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TAKE TWO – “Once upon a time in Hollywood”

Pitch perfect, maestro, pitch perfect
Leonardo Di Caprio, Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie
Directed by Quentin Tarantino

I think cinema, I love cinema, I see a great number of films during the year and always have. If asked to list great director names, I would reply, Fellini, Bergman, Fassbinder, Kurosawa and Kubrick. Though a hundred names would barely begin to cover it. But… and oh, yes, Tarentino. Despite not much enjoying his movies—too much violence, albeit often humorous, rivers of blood, and a permanent ... more >

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“Wild Rose”

Between responsibility and hope lie country music dreams
Jessie Buckley, Matt Costello and Jane Patterson
Directed by Tom Harper

The Rose of the title is Jessica Buckley who, as Rose-Lynn Harlan does a tremendous turn as an untamable working-class Glaswegian just out of prison after a stint for committing a petty crime. She’s a cleaning lady by trade, a Nashville-style country singer by aspiration, a mother of two and an unmanageable rebel, all within the staid contents of her small life. The twisted charm of Tom ... more >

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“Tel Aviv on Fire,” an acid and humorous take on Palestinians, Israelis and DYIsm

It's showtime!
Kais Nashif, Lubna Azabal and Yaniv Biton
Directed by Sameh Zoabi

This Israeli film by Sameh Zoabi, an Arab Israeli, comes to us boasting a number of awards but that doesn’t prepare us for the treat of this thoroughly enjoyable and unpretentious story. “Tel Aviv on Fire” is one of those gems––think “The Band’s Visit” or “Tony Erdmann”––that grab and delight from the opening scene to the very end, with nary a slackening of rhythm. Salam (Kais Nashif, a ... more >