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adastra.bradpitt

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 >

Lisa Cholodenko

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 >

leonardodicaprio-cannes

CANNES FESTIVAL – A very tarantinesque UPON UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD came and went (Best Acting Prize to Leonardo DiCaprio, please!)

This film is competing for the Palme D'Or

This year, there was a before- and an after-Tarantino Cannes Festival. Quentin Tarantino's new film “Once upon a time in Hollywood” was the marker. And it was also the most anticipated film of the 2019 festival. What a party! There is no other American auteur who can command the kinds of huge crowds like the ones seen yesterday in Cannes, when he and the cast walked the red carpet. The Croisette ... more >

beautifulboy-screencomment

“Beautiful Boy,” or how the loving and considerate can also be destructive and self-obsessed

Timothée Chalamet and Steve Carell
Directed by Felix Van Groeningen

It is a fact, sadly, that addiction will touch almost everyone’s lives, even the most accomplished among us. This is what happened to Nic Sheff, a top-of-his-class teen who started experimenting with pot before moving into harder drugs, gradually spiraling into a harrowing cycle of highs, lows, homelessness, sobriety and relapse. His father, Rolling Stone writer David Sheff, could only watch ... more >

allied-screencomment-brad-pitt

Allied, the good, and the bad

A decent idea of a film, lacking a payoff
Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard
Directed by Robert Zemeckis

Oh, what, you want to talk about “Allied,” the film? Where’s the fun in that? Wouldn’t you rather talk about Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and Marion Cotillard? Popcorn, please! Look in the mirror and be honest with yourself. Would you really rather go in-depth on the art direction? Twice Brad Pitt has made espionage movies about a spy married to a woman who might be an enemy out to betray him. ... more >

12 Years a slave

The story that needs to be retold
Chiwetel Ejiofor, Lupita Nyong’o and Michael Fassbender
Directed by Steve McQueen

Among movies about race in America, how many great films have been made about slavery? We’ve seen gentle drivers ("Driving Miss Daisy"), sisterhoods of maids ("The Help") and pizza places going up in smoke for our sins ("Do the Right Thing"). Most of these films focus on the sixties or the modern day. Even Lincoln barely touches on slavery as more than legal theory. This enormous, shocking gap ... more >

World War Z

Tentpoles never used to be this crowded
Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos and James Badge Dale
Directed by Marc Foster

"World War Z" may be the first film in which the cast exceeds the actual population of the planet. There are huge citywide vistas of rambling crowds. Most of these people are infected with a zombie virus that turns them into rattlesnakes with overbites and clammy hair. These elements pay off quickly in a fantastic opener set in a traffic jam in downtown Philadelphia. Amid startling ... more >