• Notes on 65th Berlinale

    February 5-15, 2015

    By: Angelika Jansen - Feb 17th, 2015

    As in prior years Angelika Jansen provides a glimpse into this year's Berlinale, where 350.000 movie tickets were sold for more than 1000 screenings and 440 films. Call that superlative!

  • The Interview BFD

    Cutting Kim Jong-un a New One

    By: Charles Giuliano - Jan 31st, 2015

    As a teenager I read the books and watched the movies banned by the Catholic Church. It served as a kind of entertainment guide. That was pretty much the motive in seeing The Interview. It pissed off North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. That led to hacking Sony Pictures which chickened out on and then fudged its release. Curious about the threats and hype we watched it on Netflix. Yawn.

  • The Imitation Game Nominated for Eight Oscars

    Benedict Cumberbatch Captivating as Alan Turing

    By: Charles Giuliano - Jan 25th, 2015

    Because of the Official Secrets Act it would be decades before the efforts of 10,000 at top secret Bletchley Park would be revealed. Primarily through the genius of the brilliant, tormented Alan Turning they succeeded in cracking the seemingly impossible 159 million daily variations of the Enigma code machine. Convicted of Gross Indecency Turing was alleged to take his life after a year of court imposed chemical castration.

  • Oscar Bound American Sniper Takes Hits

    Doves and Hawks Debate Clint Eastwood Film

    By: Charles Giuliano - Jan 21st, 2015

    From rodeo rider in Texas to sniper Bradley Cooper is superb in depicting the nuances of Chris Kyle who holds the record with 160 confirmed kills as an American Sniper. After 9/11 there was a rush to take the battle to the terrorists who attacked America. As the war dragged on with staggering cost and loss of life it grew ever less acceptable to the American people. Director Clint Eastwood again polarizes a nation divided into hawks and doves. Was Kyle a hero and defender of freedom or, as Michael Moore has stated, a "coward" and sanctioned serial killer?

  • Lucky Stiff a Cute Musical Farce

    Directed by Chistopher Ashley of La Jolla Playthouse

    By: Jack Lyons - Jan 18th, 2015

    The newly adapted movie version of the theatre piece, Lucky Stiff, revolves, in short, around a young down-and-out, mousey British shoe salesman Harry Witherspoon (a winning performance by Dominic Marsh) who takes his dead American Uncle (a sedated (?) live actor who mustn’t make a false move played by Don Amendola) – a murdered Vegas casino manager to Monte Carlo – for the best time of his life, even though he’s dead. Shades of “Weekend at Bernie’s”.

  • Kurmanjan Datka Queen of the Mountains

    Emering Films from Kyrgzstan

    By: Jack Lyons - Jan 18th, 2015

    Following a two-year post graduate course in screenwriting and directing in Moscow, Sher-Niyaz returned to his native Kyrgzstan, and founded the film production company Aitysh Film in 2006. For his debut as a director he chose to film the epic story of his country’s most iconic citizen, Kurmanjan Datka.

  • Tangerines an Estonian Film

    Directed by Zaza Urushadze

    By: Jack Lyons - Jan 18th, 2015

    It’s safe to say that the anti-war message of “Tangerines” will not diminish the impact of an intense, well-crafted war movie that, no doubt, will resonate with audiences everywhere.

  • Mark Titus Documentary Fire in the Water

    Alaskan King Salmon Endangered Species

    By: Jack Lyons - Jan 17th, 2015

    The documentary film Fire in the Water by Mark Titus is a dire warning of the threat to an American culinary staple The Alaskan King Salmon and other marine species. Fishing Alaska salmon is a $ billion dollar plus industry that appears to be headed for a financial tsunami.

  • Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem

    Film on Divorce Israeli Style

    By: Jack Lyons - Jan 17th, 2015

    The melodrama cleverly written and directed by the brother-sister team of Ronit Elkabertz and Shlomi Elkabertz introduces to non-Israeli audiences the complicated nature of its legal system concerning marriage and divorce. In theocracies, religious law trumps all varieties of civil law procedures that are common in most other countries.

  • Leviathan by Director Andrei Zvyagintsev

    Oscar Nominated Foreign Film

    By: Christopher Johnson - Jan 16th, 2015

    Leviathan directed by Andrei Zvyagintsev is a film about a mayor who is evicting a man from his property against his will and a masterful plot ensues from this premise. It won a 2014 Golden Globe award for Best Foreign Film and is nominated for an Oscar.

  • Michael Keaton in Birdman

    Is Riff of Holywood on Broadway Oscar Bound

    By: Jack Lyons - Jan 11th, 2015

    “Birdman”, like last years’ Oscar Winner “Dallas Buyers Club” features a character I didn’t much care for, but I sure did enjoy and admire the performance of its star Matthew McConaughey, who walked off with a much deserved Oscar statuette by playing a flawed character. It’s a strong possibility that Michael Keaton, another flawed character-study, will do the same?

  • Inherent Vice Is Unclassifiable

    'Paul Thomas Anderson's New Film

    By: Christopher Johnson - Jan 11th, 2015

    Paul Thomas Anderson's "Inherent Vice" details the mystery that Doc Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix) must solve that keeps getting more complicated as the film goes along.

  • The Circle and Difret

    Two Foreign Films

    By: Jack Lyons - Jan 06th, 2015

    “The Circle” (Der Kreis”), is Switzerland’s Official submission for the 87th Academy Awards, come February 2015. “Difret”, an Ethiopian film dealing with the vexing ancient tribal custom of child-bride abduction in its rural areas, is executive produced by Angelina Jolie whose celebrity raises the stakes in drawing attention to the issue.

  • Boyhood: Film of the Year

    Talking with Director Richard Linklater

    By: Susan Hall - Dec 27th, 2014

    The technical feat of filming a boy's life for twelve years is staggering to contemplate. But what the auteur Richard Linklater is able to achieve in film is a masterpiece whose structure only enhances the experience. We spoke with him after a recent screening. He liked our comparison to Proust.

  • Rosewater Could Have Been a Great Movie

    Happy Ending Mar Jon Stewart's Directorial Debut

    By: Christopher Johnson - Dec 19th, 2014

    Jon Stewart's film detailing to imprisonment and interrogation of Maziar Bahari (Gael Garcia Bernal) in Iran during the 2009-2010 presidential election. In his debut as a director Stewart has a ways to go.

  • Documentary Film Code Black

    Dr. Ryan McGarry Reveals Real Life Drama of an ER

    By: Jack Lyons - Dec 16th, 2014

    Over the years countless TV series have focused on the life and death drama of hospital ER units. In the compelling documentary film, Code Black, Dr. Ryan McGarry focues on what actually happens day to day in LA County Hospital. In addition to saving lives for the severely injured the ER is also a defacto outpatient clinic for the urban poor. That equates to endless and unavoidable long waits in a national health care system struggling to cope and provide care for all.

  • Swedish Film Force Majeure (Turist)

    Award Nominations for Best Foreign Film

    By: Charles Giuliano - Dec 11th, 2014

    The upper middle class Swedish couple, Emma and Tomas, have taken their kids Vera and Harry on an expensive, five day ski vacation in the French Alps. The complacency of this seemingly perfect, bourgeois family shatters in a tragic moment when a "controlled" avalanche is anything but. They respond instinctively but differently to that life threatening event. The film by Reuben Ostlund profoundly records the seismic emotional aftershocks of the life threatening incident. The film has been monimated for a Golden Globe award and is a likely candidate for an Oscar for Best Foreign Film.

  • The Theory of Everything

    Biopic of the Amazing Stephen Hawking

    By: Jack Lyons - Dec 10th, 2014

    Screenwriter Anthony McCarten and director James Marsh, of the romantic drama “The Theory of Everything”, starring Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones, as Stephen Hawking and his wife Jane Wlde Hawking, have fashioned, with great skill, a movie about Britain’s famous living physicist.

  • Mockingjay at Best a Holiday Turkey

    Jennifer Dear How Could You

    By: Charles Giuliano - Nov 26th, 2014

    In the first two Hunger Games films we fell deeply, madly in love with Jennifer Lawrence as the archer and woman warrior Katness Everdeen. The two hour third film Mockingjay Part One is little more than a boring rip off and setup for the hopefully better final film in the series a year from now.

  • ‘Birdman’ is Almost Wholly Original

    Hollywood Celebrity Struggles on Broadway

    By: Christopher Johnson - Nov 22nd, 2014

    Michael Keaton is the celebrity star of a series of comic book films as the super hero Birdman. At mid career he hopes to prove himself as a director and thespian on Broadway. In what seems like doomed ambition he risks enerything. The bitchy Times critic during a bar confrontation reveals plans to write a brutal review intended to close down the show. She has a thing, truly justified, about Hollywood taking over Broadway. Keaton and supporting actor, Ed Norton, give potentially Oscar nominated performances.

  • Intersteallar by Christopher Nolan

    Farout Film Stars Matthew McConaughey

    By: Christopher Johnson - Nov 14th, 2014

    While "Interstellar" is profoundly beautiful, it is lacking in some fundamental elements of story and dialogue. What is most worrisome about the film is how the dialogue almost reaches a point of realism but falls into platitudes entailing unremarkable but easily understandable sentences.

  • Three Current Films

    Gone Girl, St. Vincent and CitizenFour

    By: Jack Lyons - Nov 14th, 2014

    In today’s world of $100 and $200 million dollar budgets, filmmakers only get one or maybe two shots at it. Thus, the “safe” and less risky films are what’s being produced and screened. It’s a “Hobson’s Choice” dilemma.

  • Nightcrawler by Dan Gilroy

    Creepy Performance Jake Gyllenhaal

    By: Charles Giuliano - Nov 12th, 2014

    During an evening of suspense Tony Gilroy showed a clip from Nightcrawler. It was a film wrtten and directed by his brother Dan. It was fun to see how that scene developed in the arc of a grim but fascinating film.

  • Like Sunday, Like Rain by Frank Whaley

    Breakout at Williamstown Film Festival

    By: Charles Giuliano - Nov 10th, 2014

    Actor/ writer/ director Frank Whaley took seven years to develop Like Sunday, Like Rain. Screened on Sunday morning at the annual Williamstown Film Festival it proved to be the diamond in the rough, small and gleaming gem that scored big time with an appreciative audience. In this case the best film of the festival was saved for last.

  • Lilli Taylor and Nick Flynn

    Lunch Chat at Williams Inn

    By: Charles Giuliano - Nov 10th, 2014

    During the recent Williamstown Film Festival Diane Pearlman and Berkshire Film & Media Collaborative hosted a lunch at the Williams Inn. It featured independent film star, Lilli Taylor, and her husband, Nick Flynn, a poet, essayist and author of three books of memoirs. Williams College professor, Jim Shepard, led the dialogue.

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