• Scorsese has directed many a cinematic winner. But, with the exception of 2016’s “Silence” (which I found to be brilliant on so many levels) it had been a while since the accolades of brilliance could be applied to this filmmaker.

    Make no mistake, it is rare when he fumbles, and most of his films have found their way unto my Ten Best lists of their respective years. But over the last decade

  • There is a moment in Paolo Sorrentino’s YOUTH when the aging conductor and composer, played by Michael Caine, stops in a beautiful European meadow to watch the cows. At first we are listening to each dong of a cowbell as a separate sound. Slowly he begins to hear the music hidden inside them. With a bit of imagination, the conductor soon raises a hand to conduct. If the film has a metaphor, this is it. It takes every random "dong" and connects them into a symphony. When not conducting cows, the conductor has retreated to a luxury spa-hotel that might be Purgatory.

  • Memo to bombastic directors who come up with ill-digested “Philosophy for Dummies” concepts on the nature of love and life in hardly watchable films (e.g. Terrence Malick’s “Tree of Life”): Don’t. Unfortunately, chances are they won’t listen and will continue to come up with these half-baked offerings to convey a message so obscure we don’t get it. Case in point, “The Congress.” But before talking about that movie, note to self: Never assume that a director who gave us a masterpiece as first film will follow up with something half as good. High expectations set us up for big disappointments. So we’re mad when Florian Von Donnersmarck, author of the superlative “The Lives of Others,” hits us with a dud like "The Tourist"