Okay, so I have no life. I watch way too many movies - ever since I got netflix. But the nights are long in winter and it's a good way to pass them. Also, many of these are very good for mind and soul and creativity. The ones in dark type are the best of the best. Enjoy.
Andrew Lloyd Webber: Royal Albert Hall Celebration music from a dozen or so productions - Evita, Cats, Jesus Christ Superstar on the occasion of Lloyd Weber's birthday staged magnificently with all star cast very good musical theater. 126 min.
The Anniversary Party: shot on high def, a story of a looong night, created by Jennifer Jason Lee and Alan Cummings (Sheila Bernard)
Art 21: Art in the 21 st Century: Season 1: Disc 1 216 minutes of artists talking about their art not bad, but you have to select what you like. A lot is very contemporary and well hard to digest.
Avenue Montaigne the City of Lights Paris a feel good, romantic movie with a variety of story lines all tied together by a likeable French waitress who what else achieves all her dreams. Why not watch it? Especially on a cold winter's night when you want sweet dreams.
A very long engagement Mathilde (Audrey Tautou), seeks her lover said to have been killed in WWI. A wondrous fantasy film mixed with images of the horror of trench warfare. Beautiful. directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Tops of list. (Sam)
Adaptation another Charlie Kaufman film (Being John Malkovich). The hero tries to write a screen adaptation of The Orchid Thief. His determination to avoid clichés is thwarted by real life (which proves to be more cliché than he had imagined) and ultimately by the unreal world of filmmaker Kaufman. A film within a film within a film. Great. (Sam)
Atonement beautiful people, filmed beautifully in beautiful locations what's not to like? Upstairs/Downstairs with a mystery to boot. Still for the hoypaloy.
Alfred Steiglitz The Eloquent Eye nice full length doc about the great photographer and his part in launching modern art in America though opening a gallery and promoting artists both painters and photographers. (Sam)
Alison Krauss: Union Station Live: Disc 1 a performance video at Kentucky 's Louisville Palace . Extremely well visualized and a wonderful performance. Great.
After Life Japanese souls of the dead arrive in a funky purgatory (resembling and abandoned prep school) during which they must choose one memory to take with them into the after life all the rest will be erased from their mind. What would you choose? Hard to describe. A worth film that is interesting b/c of the individual stories, the relationship between the interviewers (they could not choose one memory so they stayed in limbo) and the funky plot. But way too long. But I bet I remember this one.
Agnes Brown: Anjelica Huston directed and starred in this story of two women in Ireland , I think circa 1950s. (Sheila Bernard)
Amalie - A French film - a truly whimsical tale - a very strange but beautiful and funny story of a young girl coming of age being raised by crazy parents and then sets out on her own to work in a cafe in Paris. Her life changes when she finds a box (I'm not going to tell you what's in it). Great characters! (Debby Dorsey). Amalie has innocence, love and a fairy tale quality: says one critic. Beautiful photography, wonderfully saturated color, great wide angle EXCU shots, wonderful editing, music a fantasy love story that almost isn't. (Sam)
Andrew Lloyd Webber: Masterpiece (Live in China ) filmed in Beijing 's Great Hall of the People in 2001 a wonderful reprise of his hits. 157 minutes of great rousing music makes you feel good.
Baraka rip off of Koyaanasqatsi a random, meaningless selection of National Geographic like scenes. Forget it. (Sam).
Being John Malkovich one of the funniest movies I have ever seen folks find a way into John Malkovich's mind through a tunnel and are ejected onto the New Jersey Turnpike after a time at the helm of Malkovich's thoughts. Great. (Sam)
The Boys and Girl from County Claire Nah. Not bad, but nah.
Blow Dry The National British Hairdressing Championship is held in a small Yorkshire town challenging a failed family to respond. A small heartwarming and funny Brit comedy. Good stuff.
Beaches Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey star in a film about two women who become best friends in spite of their obvious differences. Hillary is the ultimate WASP and Cecilia a Jewish nightclub singer. Their friendship is tested when one of them falls terminally ill. A tear jerker. Taut throughout with no missed beats. (Sam).
Belonging After Saving Grace, we looked at all the Brenda Blethyn movies so this one cropped up. Not bad but probably not worth your time story of a divorced mid-age woman (Brenda) and how she copes with her situation and with three elderly hangers-on. Just fine it turns out but so what? (Sam)
Brother's Keeper a documentary of four elderly farmers who live in a dilapidated house on farmland in New York state. When one of them dies, the police suspect that he has been murdered at first a mercy killing and later a sex crime. The film follows the trial and reveals the hardscrabble life of the farmers and the tight community that rises to their defense. Extremely well done. (Sam)
Blue Velvet dark look behind the scenes of an American small town. Groundbreaking in is time.
Brassed Off a pretty good small film (Sam) Netflix review - Big energy threatens to move in and disrupt life in the small English mining town of Grimley, but its brass band conductor refuses to hang up his baton. Recognizing Grimley's last chance to shine, Danny (Pete Postlethwaite) perfects his band for their last chance at national competition. Gloria (Tara Fitzgerald) tries to perform flawless flugelhorn as she wrestles resentment for her part in the mine's closure and falls for Andy (Ewan McGregor).
The Butterfly wonderful French film about a young girl (Claire Bouanich- fantastic acting) who joins with an elderly butterfly hunter to find love and wonder in life. (Sam)
Best In Show - an utterly hysterical satire of the dog show world, following five couples in mockumentary style as they prepare for and bring their dogs to a huge Westminster-esque show. director Christopher Guest, who in real life is also a British Peer (house of Lords), plays a North Carolina cracker with a bloodhound. (Jerry Howard)
Burnt By The Sun - The life of a Soviet military officer and his fun-loving, ribald family at their country dasha is interrupted when he falls out of favor with Stalin (I think). (Jerry Howard
The Big Night two brothers battle to save their restaurant by cooking a masterpiece last supper laying the stage for memorable slice of life character performances. Great movie. (Sam)
Billy Elliot a young man from an English mining family decides to drop his boxing lessons and become a ballet dancer (the plot of Girl Fight is reversed). One of best feel good movies ever. (Sam Low)
Bread and tulips (Italian) - recent first run. woman on family vacation gets left behind at rest stop by clueless husband and teenage boys, finds new life in Venice . feel-good movie with lots of laughs, charming idiosyncratic characters. (Val Hart)
Bottle rocket - boys learning rocket science, become rocket science, under the inspirational guidance of ailing teacher Laura Dern. (Sam Low)
The Control Room James Carville runs the Clinton campaign so so.
Calendar Girls - members of the Rylstone Women's Institute of North Yorkshire decides to put out their yearly calendar to raise money for the local cancer center by posing in the nude. Starring: Helen Mirren. Fun with some depth (Sam).
The City of Lost Children directors Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro bring us a film of pure cinematic genius. The visuals and artwork alone make it worthwhile and make me wonder why stills from such movies are not hung on the walls at MOMA. It is kooky as hell a mad scientist steals the dreams of little children. And it's hard to read the subtitles as they go whizzing by. But watch it if you want to see something completely different like Delicatessen.
Closely Watched Trains a 1966 Czech film which won an Academy for Best Foreign Picture in 1967. A period piece a very slow moving but at least somewhat engrossing coming of age film about a young train dispatcher's desire to get laid while the war rages in the far distance and German trains rumble past his station. Dark. Melancholy.
Cirque du Soleil: Quidam a wonderful show starring this French Canadian circus with acrobatic acts that are astonishing and beautiful with music to match. This is a great movie for a winter's night or a time when you need some cheer. Especially dazzling is Isabel Chasse dangling in silk above the stage in a spectacular aerial dance.
Calle 54 (in Spanish) - A collage of outstanding performances of latin jazz, interspersed with interesting interviews and all viewed through the lens of a superb cinematographer. (Val Hart)
Chuck Close A portrait in Progress nice doc of this famous artist.
Cats 1998 Andrew Lloyd Weber what's up? It was horrible even Karin did not like it.
Capote tour de force acting by Philip Seymour Hoffman) as Truman Capote reveals the hideous character of the writer who devoured an equally hideous murderer to write In Cold Blood which made Capote famous. Where are such monsters spawned? (Sam)
The Chorus French a new prefect changes the lives of his reform school students by introducing a chorus to the school. Impossibly romantic feel good film for a cold night. (Sam)
Creature From The Haunted Sea : a 1950's spoof on 1950's monster movies. As amusing as it is hard to find. (Joe Feeley)
Company original Cast Album Steven Sondheim musical performed in a studio for the original cast album as filmed by who else but the greatest Ricki Leacock and D.A. Pennebaker. Great. (Sam)
Cold Comfort Farm. An orphan goes to live with oddball relatives on an English countryside farm and changes their lives for the better. Feel good and easy to watch. (Sam)
The Commitments: My all -time favorite is about a group of Irish kids trying to break out of a life of poverty by becoming Ireland 's first "soul band." Great music and based on a true story. (Ron Gager). Not bad good music but little else (Sam)
Croupier More than just a smoothly plotted casino-based thriller with a surprise ending, "Croupier," is a breezy meditation on life as a game of chance - New York Times Review. Directed by Mike Hodges, director of photography, Mike Garfath. (Sam Low)
Delicatessen In a city of the future (after some terrible calamity) food is scarce and a butcher supplies the residents of his apartment building with food by packaging human meat. A newcomer to the building (the next victim) becomes the love of the butcher's daughter and all hell breaks lose as sewer dwellers rise from beneath the city's streets to save him. Absurd, funny, unlike anything I have ever seen except The City of Lost Children which is made by the same folks and stars the same people. French subtitles are difficult to read.
Daughter from Danang is a film with a powerful message that the filmmakers may not have intended. Here's one way of putting it: America goes to war in Vietnam, creates chaos and Amerasian Babies which are flown to the U.S. by Gerald Ford in a cynical political ploy as the war unravels. One of these babies is given with little oversight to an American woman a Southern redneck who raises her to be the worst kind of Suburban Southern White Trash. Baby then wants to meet her birth mother and flies to Danang where the reunion, predictably, turns totally sour revealing the emptiness of aforesaid SSWT life in particular and American life in general. One can only wonder at the ethics of the filmmakers who oversaw this sorry project and television station WGBH which produced it as part of the usually excellent American Experience series. Perhaps I am being cynical so why not watch it and see for yourself?
Drums of Tokyo boring performance tape.
Dancer Texas : a story about 4 some-to-be H.S. grads trying to decide if they will leave the small town they all say they hate. (Ron Gager)
Dancer in the Dark - A dark tale about a young woman who works in a factory and escapes the boredom by breaking into fantasies of dance and singing. She has a disease that will end in blindness and is saving for an operation to spare her son of this fate. This is one you will weep through at the end - it is compelling, beautiful, very hard to watch. I am not sure if I can recommend it but I will never forget this one(Sam)
Dear Frankie a mother spirits her son away from an abusive father and pretends the boy's dad is aboard HMS Accra, writing fake letters to him. When ACCRA enters the port where they live she must find a man to pose as the dad. Tear jerker not bad. (Sam)
Dish the first pictures from the moon pass to the world via a mammoth dish receiver in an Australian outback sheeptown. A charming evocation of the sixties and the quiet heroism behind the first small step for man. (Sam Low)
Elling a Norwegian gem about two mentally challenged friends who are discharged from the hospital together and join to face, and conquer, the challenges of life. Nominated for Oscar in foreign language category. Watch it. (Sam)
Elizabeth 1 and 2 the first part is an engrossing portrait of Elizabethan England, and the queen, during a turbulent period of history. Helen Mirren stars in a role she was born for. Engrossing, wonderfully shot and edited. Slight soap opera but Mirren pulls it off. Forget the second part it descends into soap opera of the worst sort. (Sam)
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet, directed by Michael Gondry, written by Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation). A film that flows backwards in time and crosses from reality to fantasy in ways difficult but fun to track. Winslet's character has a relationship with Carey's which she has erased from memory. Carrey follows suite but ultimately fights to retain the memory of what they shared with poignant and hilarious results. Great. (Sam)
The Fast Runner a gripping Inuit film in which sorcery and revenge play out in the frozen wastes. (Sam)
Ed's Next Move review a few weeks in the life of urban greenhorn Eddie (Matt Ross), whose titular move is from the wide-open, cheesy state of Wisconsin to the dog-eat-dog world of New York City. Eddie, a genetics researcher and rice breeder, faces the world alone -- a stranger in a strange land. He lives in a cheap motel while he tries to find a non-psychotic roommate, can't get a simple hamburger at a restaurant, and finds his Midwestern sensibilities out of place in the big city. It's here that Eddie meets Lee (Callie Thorne), a brassy hipster trying to cut it as a musician. Eddie, in fine romantic comedy style, becomes smitten with Lee and tries to win her affections. Writer/director John Walsh.
The Fight Club (Kim and Niklaus Hart)
Farewell My Concubine Chinese history from WWII through the Great Cultural Revolution as seen through the eyes of two performers in the Bejing Opera, along with a tale of confused sex identity, oppression and love both homo and heterosexual. I pass. (Sam)
Francis Bacon a 1985 British television documentary (55 mins.) featuring the artist in a number of places including his favorite gay bar which is a great introduction to his art and thoughts and personality. Highly recommended. Even the filming (for TV) is good.
For your consideration is this Jewish humor? Really? Try it if you are Jewish otherwise forget it. We ejected it after ten minutes. (Sam)
Finding Neverland J. Depp and Kate Winslet in 1904 London J. M. Barrie creates a new play Peter Pan. Good entertainment a good cry. (Sam)
Friday Night Lights forget it well it's not bad but if you want to watch a sports film see Miracle. This one is filmed like an advertisement all action and synch bites. (Sam)
Frequency -- through weird accident boy connects by radio to his long-deceased father. Really cool. (Sheila Bernard)
42 up Michael Apted's amazing documentary follows a group of Brits from age seven to age 42 filming them every seven years to follow their lives as they unfold. Frankly, I found it a little boring but, still, this is a unique and worthy documentary.
Frida story of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, wonderful film, very interesting cinema style that reminds me of Garcia Marquez's mysterious, mythic novels. (Sam)
For Love of the Game Costner albeit not a small film but a really interesting structure. (Sheila Bernard)
The Grateful Dead Movie: Disc 1 oh my god is this bad. Even the music is poorly recorded, not to mention the awful filmmaking. Please shit can this one (Sam)
The Good German noir mystery about Berlin immediately post WWII in which a journalist discovers a plot to kill a German who harbors secrets about ex Nazi missile specialists wanted by both Americans and Germans for their new missile program. Good (Sam)
Gandhi not dated though produced in 1980s academy awards up the yazoo beautifully shot, edited great acting by Ben whats his name the politics of ethnic hatred are played out today. Where is Gandhi's when we need him most? (Sam)
The Great Santini Robert Duval stars (his first major role?) as a marine fighter pilot abusive of his wife and family who achieves redemption as a warrior and a father. Blythe Danner gives banner performance as Southern Belle lover/wife/mother. Based on Pat Conroy book. One of world's best movies. (Sam Low)
The Girl in the Café hell, this movie was made for TV but it is real cinema anyway. A shy top level civil servant (Bill Nighy) meets a young woman in a café setting off a series of comic and yet deep moments that lead from London to Iceland and a G8 summit meeting. Never a misstep. (Sam)
Ghost Dog The way of the Samurai an Italian mafioso saves a young black man (Forest Whitaker) from death and earns his fealty as a retainer for life following an ancient Samurai tradition. Violent. Intriguing, Ironic. Worth a look. Written and directed by Jim Jarmusch
Great Women Artists Georgia O'Keeffe awful, avoid all of this series.
Great Women Artists Mary Cassatt shit, I forgot about this series and ordered this one and it was equally awful. Don't do it.
Genghis Blues a charming home movie kind of film, nominated for an academy award b/c of its content, about a blind blues musician Paul Pena who hears Tuvan throat music on short-wave, learns the music and travels to Tuva where he wins an award and the heart of this high mountain, Turkic speaking people. Charming, if you don't care about the amateur filmmaking. It is so nice that such movies actually can be seen. (Sam)
Girl Fight In a film made by women, a young woman learns to box and discovers in a Latin world that she is more macho than the boys. Karyn Kusama named best director at Sundance. The film also won the Grand Jury Prize. Made in 2000. Three and a half stars by Roger Ebert. (Sam Low)
Greenfingers Helen Mirren and inmate friends from a British prison demonstrate the redemptive powers of gardening. Great. (Sam Low)
Grey Gardens great documentary filmmakers, the Maysles Brothers, film big and little Edie in their dilapidated and decaying mansion in the Hamptons . These folks are on the skids from a privileged life (relatives of Jackie O), co-dependent in their craziness. This is a fascinating and disturbing film.
The Beales of Grey Gardens an hour and a half of outtakes from the above movie which, perhaps, should have been left on the cutting room floor. This film was made in 2006 to take advantage of the upcoming New York play about the Beales. If you watch it you will learn the meaning of the word voyeur.
High School Musical thought it was a documentary it is not- Horrible.
The Heart of the Game amazing documentary shot over a period of something like 6 years about a gifted coach of a gifted team who takes the meaning of competition and sportsmanship to a new level. A must see. Do it.
House of Games what's with David Mamet his direction (and the writing) of this movie is so stilted it feels like a play filmed for the screen. We got through 15 minutes before pulling the plug. (Sam)
Helvetica an amusing and interesting film about the invention of the world's most used type face. Good for folks with an artistic or design interest.
How Art Made the World: Disc 1 a TV program if you like flashy graphics, stentorian narration by Mr. Pretty telling you what to see and think watch this. I couldn't.
How to Draw a Bunny Ray Johnson? Never heard of him. And too bad for me. This is a documentary about an avant garde artist Ray Johnson who may have been more of a primitive visual philosopher - or as others say in the movie a living culture, a Zen master or the most famous unknown artist in the world - whatever. A slice into the art scene of New York in the 50s 90s Warhol, Christo, Lichtenstein, Indianna or sort of, because Ray knew them and they respected him but he was not in their league. Ray consciously made art that was not for sale. He hated galleries and museums maybe b/c he could not get into them, although he eventually did get into MOMA by mailing art to the museum. A film by Andrew Moore who is, himself, a very good photographer. Worth watching to catch the scene the NY underground of the 50s to 90s just before Ray killed himself. (Sam)
The Hurricane about Rubin Hurricane Carter the fighter who was slimed and put in jail. I forget why I went to sleep during this movie. (Sam)
Heart of gold - Jonathan Demme turns his cameras on musician Neil Young for a soul-baring set from Young's album "Prairie Wind," with the legendary singer-songwriter also performing reworked versions of some classics. Joining Young onstage are his wife, Pegi, Emmylou Harris, Ben Keith and others. Very entertaining if you like Neil Young as much as I do Sam.
Hockney at the Tate a simple TV program from 1988 in which Hockney walks and talks about his art as it hangs on the Tate's walls. Useful for art lovers. Not his best work in my mind still useful.
How to Make an American Quilt a pastiche of six, or seven, I lost count, women weaving their quilts and lives in a predicable, boring, melodramatic tale. Forget it. (Sam)
House of Sand and Fog a dark tale of two people fighting over a house, one an Iranian exile (Ben Kingsley) who buys it to satisfy his own cultural bottom lines, the other a shiftless young American woman who loses it because of her own ineptitude. Nicely made. Great acting by Ben Kingsley. Ultimately unconvincing because the girl's character is so totally undeveloped. But still - one hard go forget. (Sam)
Identity don't bother. (Sam)
In the Shadow of the Stars 1991 Academy Award winning documentary a behind the scenes look at the chorus of the San Francisco Opera. A winner .
In the Realms of the Unreal: The Mystery of Henry Darger. I have never seen a film like this before. Nor, I reckon, have you. It is the story of an old man who never grew up, inhabiting instead a world of his own creation the Realms of the Unreal in the film's title. By day, Henry Darger is a reclusive janitor, by night a writer and artist who, when he died, left behind a rich trove of material for filmmaker Jessica Yu to weave into a compelling, artful and deep look into the soul of a man who was orphaned, abused and always alone. The combination of Darger's words and artwork animated deftly by Yu take us deep into a wonderland of warring armies, girl amazons, flying dragons and mythical nations while, at the same time, weaving in Darger's life story (left behind in his biography). When combined with the views of his few neighbors, this film gives us a stunning portrait of a man who had almost no friends. This is film art on the highest level, combined with narrative and documentary realism to produce a unique effect. Having seen it, I felt like I did when I first read Carlos Castaneda's The Teachings of Don Juan. Castaneda created a world for his character a Yaqui Shaman not by describing what it was, but by constantly failing to understand it thereby perfectly creating a nonwestern space in which the shaman could breath fully. In a similar way, Yu gives the breath of life to Darger by voyaging into his mind and laying out the space he created for himself while simultaneously pulling taut the real strands of his life a dualism that provides unique poignancy. Bravo. Don't miss this one .
Inspiration film by Michael Apted portraits of artist and their inspiration. Dale Chihuly (a lout) and his glasswork, Louise LeCavalier and her amazing dance (a princess) and Edouard Lock her choreographer also Nora Naranjo-Morse a Tewa Indian potter a philosopher. A worthy and sometimes inspiring movie. You gotta see Louise spin horizontally in the air.
Into Great Silence a very long and mostly silent film about life in the Grande Chartreuse monastery. Beautifully filmed but lugubrious gets its point across in, say, an hour yet runs for more than 2 ½.
InnocenceAustralian. A man and a woman in their 70's who were lovers in their 20's reconnect. Not a missbeat in the entire movie. (Cassandra Gordon)
Insomnia Al Pacino and Robin Williams on the same bill in a dark detective drama played out in the bleak 24 hour Alaskan day. A movie that does not falter or slow down. Fantastic. (Sam)
The Illusionist about a magician in Vienna , his lover and the pretender to the throne a love and political triangle. It's just a movie ok entertainment but that's it.
Ikiru an interesting film, to use the term of death. It is long and sometimes hard to watch. It is about a Japanese mid-level bureaucrat who, when he realizes he has a terminal disease, also realizes that his life and the bureaucracy he has been part of for thirty years is a total sham. In making amends, he provides an example for his fellow bureaucrats which they ultimately ignore. Made just after the American occupation of Japan it is a comment on American life and Japanese corruption at the same time. I think it is Kurosawa. Considered a classic. Watch it if you have time. (Sam)
In the Bedroom - new release - dir. Todd Field - laying bare the class antagonisms underlying a tragedy in a small Maine town.
Jung: In the land of the Mujaheddin - Italian crew sets up hospital near front north of Kabul 2-3 years ago. Some scenes very hard to watch, but really should be seen by anyone who supports war anywhere. Makes you sad and mad. (Val Hart)
Jules and Jim - a classic film by Francois Truffaut, father of the New Wave. In spite of wonderful shooting and directing this one is so dated that I would not watch it again. Ultimately, Karin and I did not care what happened to the characters.
Jimmy Carter The Man from Plains. Hollywood director Jonathan Demme profiles Jimmy Carter's book tour (and his life). Having accused Israel of apartheid, Carter is assailed from all sides, and he emerges with his spirit and soul and intelligence intact. A little long, but a great documentary nevertheless.
Joni Mitchell: Woman of Heart and Mind wonderful American Masters two hour documentary about Joni that is deep and engrossing and beautiful and thoughtful.
Jackson Pollock Love and Death on Long Island the title should scare you away. A cheaply made Brit doc. about Pollock which focuses on the lurid details of his life, but does provide insight into the art world of the fifties, the galleries and celebrity, that Pollock encountered and that killed him. (Sam)
Jasper Johns Ideas in Paint not bad documentary on Johns who was then (1989) the highest paid living artist.
Nobody Knows Japanese very long movie about young children abandoned by their mother who must learn to survive in a Japanese city. We watched it and it is interesting and has an ending like no US movie.
Kinky Boots predictable story of self realization etc. etc. but some nice twists. A staid shoemaker changes from making men's shoes to boots for drag queens. An acceptable time passer.
Kestrel's Eye a Swedish documentary that follows two kestrels a pair as they raise their young in a church steeple. No narration just a day-to-day view of the world through the eyes of two birds. Wonderful. Unique.
Klimt documentary from Kultur (usually good) in the series The Great artists the Pot Impressionists about Gustav Klimt Viennese artist who painted erotic shimmering portraits of woman with gold leaf interspaced with paint also wonderful landscapes who is undergoing a strong renaissance today. Good one.
Kandahar Iranian. A woman journalist returns pre-Sept. 11 to Afghanistan and Kandahar to search for her sister who has threatened suicide. (Cassandra Gordon)
Little Voice so-so film (Sam) Netflix review - telephone repairman Ewan McGregor and music promoter Michael Caine play second fiddle to Little Voice (Jane Horrocks), a young woman whose beautiful pipes could pack a thousand cabarets. Trouble is, she can only sing along to records in her room. This British charmer was a sleeper hit among the indie set thanks to its winning mix of romance, hope and humor
A Love Song for Bobby Long John Travolta and Scarlett Johansson nice film about a young woman who inherits a bungalow in New Orleans to find it inhabited by two male roommates one, it turns out, is her father. Slow character driven film, both actors are great. (Sam)
Lovely and Amazing Brenda Blethyln and her four daughters deal with differing neuroses. Good. (Sam)
La Bete Humaine Jean Renoir, 1938. The scenes of old trains roaring through the countryside are enough to make this worth it. Otherwise it is a good movie from a historical perspective but not enthralling today.
La Vie En Rose story of chanteuse Edith Piaf beautifully done film. Sam
Lawrence of Arabia a very long classic - 227 minutes with surprising insight upon viewing many years after its release (sam).
Letters from Iwo Jima Clint Eastwood shows the other side of the war, from the Japanese perspective. Cut off, low on rations and ammunition, Japanese troops contend with these hardships and with officers inspired by outdated concepts of bushido. Compelling film and accurate according to the research I once conducted for a documentary. (Sam)
Little Miss Sunshine a promising opening leads to a let down at about 1/3 way in forget it. (Sam)
Ladies in Lavender - Two elderly sisters are at their beach house in Cornwall for some rest when their idyll is interrupted by a man awash on the beach. Forgetaboutit. Sam
Last orders director Fred Schepisi an all star cast Helen Mirren, Michael Cane, Bob Hoskins, Tom Courtenay and others. The story of a south London way of life as told by a group of buddies traveling to spread the ashes of one of them and from the POV of his son and wife. Wonderful capture of sense of place and culture. Almost sentimental. Wonderful acting by all. (Sam)
The Last waltz Scorsese's tribute to The Band, filmed in 1976 with Clapton, Joni Mitchell, Dylan, Van Morrison, Emmylou Harris and an amazing single song from Niel Young Helpless. (sam)
Mrs. Henderson Presents English drama about a wealthy woman who opens a theater just before and during WWII. Nice feel good film with dramatic moments. Judi Dench. (Sam).
The Madness of King George Helen Mirren and Nigel Hawthorne received Oscar nominations for this story of King George's dementia. Why? (sam)
Mary Cassatt: A Brush with Independence a fairly boring documentary film-wise but full of info. I went to sleep, though (Sam)
Mad Hot Ballroom Inner city high school kids (11 years old) compete for a city wide ballroom dance trophy. Wonderful cinematography and the kids and teachers are inspiring. See this one. (Sam)
Manufactured Landscapes through the lens of Edward Burtynsky we see the changes wrought on the landscape by our insatiable greed. Fantastic documentary. See it.
The Man who Loved Women Francois Truffaut - an aeronautical engineer chases skirts all over France , bagging hundreds of women in his lifetime. He is driven by an abiding loneliness which stems from his loneliness as a child and his inability to love one woman in his life. Strangely compelling movie erotic and sad and even funny at the same time.
Maya Lin: A strong Clear Vision documentary about the creator of the Vietnam Memorial academy award winner but, really, just a decent effort. Still worth seeing.
Max Ernst a full length feature documentary about Max Ernst surrealist artist, sometime DADA member, who traveled the world and finally settled in the US where, in Sedona, he discovered a landscape he had painted from his imagination in Germany many years before. A wonderful, if often disturbing talent (partly inspired by his time in the trenches in WW1), another of the generation who passed through Paris when it was truly the City of Light .
My Life So Far life on a Scottish Estate as told by 10 year old Fraser Pettigrew. Not bad.
Maria Full of Grace - harrowing story of a drug-running "mule" from Colombia who agrees to smuggle a half-kilo of heroin into the United States . Dark. Extremely well filmed, directed and acted. Powerful. Sam
Memento - Fascinating film noir with a brain-teaser twist : scenes are played in reverse chronological order. Man involved in both sides of murder simultaneously tries to make sense of the past and survive the present. (Val Hart)
Memento: (a man has been through a terrible accident and lost his short term memory, but somehow struggles to piece together the story of his wife's murder). (Sheila Bernard)
Miracle - story of the US Hockey team's win in 1980 Olympics the best sports movie great filming, nice development, Want to feel good? (Sam)
Mostly Martha amazing German film about an uptight chef who finds love after taking in her diseased sister's girl. Wonderful shooting, directing, acting not a missed beat. Sam
A mighty wind take off on the folk music era light fare sort of fun. (Sam)
Manon of the Spring sequel to Jean de Florette - a medieval French town where guilt, sin, fate and death play out suffused with the Greek sense of tragedy. But not a downer great acting and sense of place provide a wonderful viewing experience for a cold winter's night. Claude Berri director(Sam)
My Big Fat Greek Wedding Wasp male falls for Greek woman and mayhem ensues as he navigates the shoals and bars of Greek family life (Sam Low).
The Mystery of Picasso Pablo paints and is filmed as he does so. That's it. Fascinating. (Sam)
My Left Foot the story of an Irish cerebral palsy victim who overcomes his affliction and poverty to become a successful artist and author by using the only appendage that worked his left foot.
Matthew Barney No Restraint a portrait of avant-garde artist and filmmaker Matthew Barney. Good introduction to a weird world of contemporary art (performance? conceptual? what?) that I had never before seen.
My Antonia - a Dutch film about a freethinking rural woman whom we first meet after WWII as a young wife, and follow through two generations of her iconoclastic issue, mostly daughters, until her death in the 1980s. Wry, unsentimental, funny, moving. (Jerry Howard
My First Mister not a beat missed, a folk tale, a shamanic story of love, fate, redemption - brought to life in the rap era. Funny, pathetic, sad, tragic don't miss it. (Sam).
Mambo Italiano forget it.
Monterey Pop Leacock/Pennebaker documentary of an amazing cultural event. Great music and scenes from an era. (Sam)
Mumford - a bottomed-out dope addict finds his identity in a small town by helping others find themselves. A subtle, amusing, and fuzzy movie. (Sam Low)
Murderball documentary about the 2004 US Olympic Quadriplegic Rugby Team an absolute must see. Moving and beautifully made. Sam
Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont Joan Plowright a sentimental English drama about an elderly lady and a bond with a younger man who serves as her grandson. Great acting, nice filmwork, worthy, sentimental. (Sam)
The Namesake A Mira Nair film about an Indian family adjusting to live and love in America wonderful. (Sam)
The Notebook James Garner and Gena Rowlands and oh my god what a babe Rachel McAdams. An elderly man reads to a woman in dementia in a small town hospital a book of their lives hoping that she will remember. A tear jerker a romance beautifully filmed and acted. (Sam)
No Country for Old Men The Coen Brothers (Joel and Ethan), four Oscars and a tight violent movie about an overwhelmed sheriff (too old) on the trail of a local who has run off with drug money discovered in the desert. Problem is, there's a killer hunting him too and he is ruthless. Very on the edge of your seat
North Country a young woman wins a sexual harassment case against a Minnesota Mine good film. (Sam)
Notes on a scandal Holy shit. This is an amazing film. A tight, sit at the edge of your chair film amazing. A young teacher (Cate Blanchett) is seduced by a 15 year old boy under the eyes of a predatory and terribly lonely older woman teacher who uses her knowledge of the affair for her own ends. The film makes it all understandable and yet terrifying and erotic at the same time. A journey onto the depths of longing and loneliness. (Sam)
Not One Less Chinese drama in which a young substitute teacher struggles to carry out a promise leading to an epic journey from the country to the city in search of a missing student. Sam
Nosferatu: Klaus Kinski version. A hauntingly beautiful film. One of my favorite movies, period. (Joe Feeley)
Neil Young Heart of Gold nice Jon Demme performance video. I love Neil but could have used more commentary.
On a clear Day - A Scottish (?) dockworker loses his job at middle age and decides to swim the English Channel with his drinking and working buddies in support. Heart warming, sentimental, emotional, funny, with the star of Saving Grace in support must see it. (Sam)
One Giant Leap supposed to be a world music tour awful, not watchable.
Open Range Kevin Costner and Robert Duval make great cowboys so this is watchable even if predictable good guys get girl (at least Kevin does) and revenge all at same time. (Sam)
The Others side of the Mirror live at the Newport Folk Festival Bob Dylan in concert during the early days great nostalgia. I had no idea how awful Bob and Joanie sounded when thy tried to sing together.
The Others scary sort of movie about a haunted house in England don't bother. (Sam)
Oh Brother Where Art Thou three convicts escape from a chain gang and move through hilarious incidents in the deep south including a KKK ballet. (Sam)(Kim and Niklaus Hart)
October Sky after Sputnik's launch, a quartet of youngsters, growing up in a West Virginia mining town, decide to build a rocket and find a way out of grinding poverty and the threat of black lung disease. (Sam Low)
The Parrots of Telegraph Hill Independent documentary about a man who discovers the meaning of life by caring for the wild parrots of Telegraph Hill in SFO. Not a missed beat. Feel good and damn wonderful. Don't miss it.
The Pledge don't watch it horrible. This film begins and continues as an involving drama, right up to the end when, using a deus ex machina, the director produces his penis and pisses all over it.
Panic forget it watched only fifteen minutes of this before going to bed instead. (Sam)
Pay it Forward even Helen Hunt and Kevin Spacey could not save this melodrama. Forget it. (Sam)
Personal Best forget it.
Portraits of An Artist: Les Silences De Manet forget it one of the worst made documentaries I have ever seen. (Sam)
The Queen Helen Mirren for Christ's sake how could it not be good? And it is better than good not a missed second, or glance, or movement. The film borrows from Princess' Diana's death to add drama, but it is about Queen Elizabeth's view of appropriate royal behavior and about her character at its core. Just Watch It. (Sam)
Ray biography of Ray Charles nice rather sentimental look into Ray's life and times. (Sam)
Raising Arizona Nick Cage and Holly Hunter go on a hilarious ride to kidnap a baby a Coen brothers film. Great. (Sam).
Richard Avedon Darkness and Light a compelling documentary about the career of famous fashion and art photographer Richard Avedon. Well done. (Sam)
The Run Up a two disc series of mini documentaries about street artists and collectives in a variety of places. Disc One is mainly beginners, Disc two see this one is about very creative and mostly unschooled folks who are making it in the art world Logan Hicks (stencil artist), Ron English (captures bill boards with messages of protest), Carlos Rolon or Dzine (Huge abstract wall pieces), Rostarr (like Motherwell), Swoon (great woman artist), Jose Parla (big paintings to resemble neighborhood walls the psychology of neighborhood art), Ryan McGinnis (redrawing of graphic icons silk-screened on airbrushed panels), David Ellis (musical sculpture that play themselves), Jeff Soto (above arrows floating everywhere) and so on. Worth a look..
Ride with the Devil: a gritty film about the Union and Confederate irregulars at work in Missouri and Kansas during the Civil War. Has the feel of authenticity. Probably a guy film. (Joe Feeley)
Rivers and Tides wonderful film about artist Andy Goldsworthy who creates art from ice, driftwood, stone and leaves. Beautifully shot and edited. Goldsworthy's work is zen-like, meditative, spiritual. (Sam)
Roma - a pastiche of short color pieces by Fellini about life in Rome, including the recording of the discovery of new frescoes in a catacomb by his film crew and an ecclesiastical fashion show - without question the most hysterical footage I have ever seen (and not since 1966). (Jerry Howard)
Rocket Science a small yet hilarious film. Great acting by the protagonist a stutterer recruited by his dreamgirl for the debating team. A film about misfits in American suburbia who do their best to cope. Jeffrey Blitz awarded dramatic directing award at 200y Sundance for this one.
Ruby in Paradise - a small gem of a movie, about a young woman (Ashley Judd) struggling, but surviving, with a job on the Florida panhandle and with a love interest (Todd Field, director of in the bedroom). won grand prize at '93 Sundance festival. (Val Hart). You can't help but think of Barbara Ehrenreich's book Nickled and Dimed - when you watch this movie about a young girl quietly but persistently coming of age amidst the wreckage of the American capitalist dream. (Sam Low).
The Sea Inside story of Ramon Sampedro who fights Spanish authorities to die with dignity. Wonderful. 4.0.
Stomp: Stomp out Loud HBO special beautifully made of a stomp show combined with specially shot images. Stomp uses all kinds of objects to make music while they dance acrobatically. Great.
Survival Research Laboratories: Ten Years of Robotic Mayhem I met Desur Molnar in the desert at Black Rock, Nevada (Burning Man location) while doing a story on Craig Breedlove trying to break the World Land Speed record (and the sound barrier) in a jet car. Desur worked for Survival Research for a time and spun amazing stories about these anarchistic, geek, techno-artists who built huge machines that destroyed themselves in various happenings. Here is a record of that mayhem if you might be interested. A lot of home video mixed in.
Stranger than Fiction rented it for Emma Thompson but forget it dreadfully slow and boring. Forgot what it was about.
Scarecrow Pacino and Gene Hackman hick-hike to nowhere. Miss it.
Speaking inj Strings documentary of famous violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg. Beautifully done 75 minute film about her art and her life revealing the depth of her passion for music and featuring wonderful scenes of her performances. Well worth it.
Standing in the Shadows of Motown. One of the best documentaries I have seen, nonstop interesting and fun to watch. Director Paul Justman's music-infused documentary is based on the true story of the Funk Brothers -- the anonymous backup group that from 1959 to 1972 provided the music for nearly every hit produced by Berry Gordy's famous Motown Records. Narrated by Andre Brauer, the action revolves around a reunion of the talented musicians who lent their instruments to a multitude of hits during that amazing 13-year period.
Sideways the critics loved it Karin and Sam pan it. Don't bother. Two losers go on a road trip to wine country and slowly, painfully, reveal the profundity of their empty lives. Good for folks who are very depressed things could get worse. One question what makes these two best friends like each other?
The Station master One of the best movies ever. Period. A dwarf a lover of trains inherits a RR station house and encounters two lonely people in a small rural New Jersey town. They make friends. That's it. That's all there is. But what a tour de force. Not a missed beat. See it now! (Sam )
Saving Grace - a sixties-something English woman struggles to save her home after her husband's untimely and impecunious death by growing marijuana in her conservatory. Laughoutloud funny. (Probably one of the funniest comedies ever - Sam Low)
School of Rock pretty predictable rock fanatic loosens up prep school zombies and turns them into a rock band still, a feel good movie that is definitely watchable. (Sam)
A Son's Room--ItalianSubltitles. The Italian version of "In The Bedroom" but handled with a different emotional bent. (Cassandra Gordon)
Seven (from a review) - A killer sets out to assassinate people who commit one of the seven deadly sins. Spacey, Freeman, and Brad Pitt. (Kim and Niklaus Hart)
Something Within Me the administrators of St. Augustine' Catholic school in the South Bronx decide on a daring revamping of the curriculum based on the arts and raise the test scores and spirits of the black community which they serve. Worthy and watchable.
The Secret of Roan Inish a mythological world of an Irish island of fisherfolk is recreated in this wonderful film of seal, spirits and people. See it with your kids. John Sayles. (Sam Low)
Small Change Francois Truffault the story of a small town, Thiers, in Southern France shot almost as an ethnographic film in it's sociological detail, yet understated enough to bring out life's true small dramas and one large one as well child abuse. 1976. A classic. (Sam Low)
Smoke (from a review) - interrelated stories - taking life slow enough to get to know your fellow man in a smoke shop in Brooklyn owned by Auggie Wren (Harvey Keitel). The exquisite direction is by Wayne Wang who was responsible for THE JOY LUCK CLUB and DIM SUM. William Hurt stars. (Kim and Niklaus Hart)
A touch of Greatness Albert Cullum is an amazing teacher and this is a heartwarming documentary of his approach to exciting the minds of young students (with the help of Shakespeare) in the 50s.
To Have and Have Not Bogart and Bacall. The story of a charter captain out of Martinique during world war II who is roped into helping the Free French, and himself and, Oh, Lauren. You know how to whistle don't you Steve? Wonderfully dated movie with stereotypical moves and all but they still work for me.
The Story of the Weeping Camel probably offered an academy award b/c they did not want to nominate Fahrenheit 9/11. A Mongolian herding society has a problem with a camel that will not nurse her offspring and solves it by magic. If you have never seen an ethnographic movie this will be a decent beginning for you. But without subtitles it prevents getting to understand what is going on. Produced by National Geographic need I say more? (Sam)
The Sweet Hereafter written and directed by Atom Egoyan, a school bus disaster kills many of a small town's children. A lawyer sows dissention in the town when he arrives to initiate a claim for damages, seeking to expiate his own guilt for his daughter's turning to drugs. Incest and other crimes are revealed. The community is changed forever. A dark, riveting film. (Sam)
The Source (from net) - The blending of archival footage with new interviews and dramatic recreations bring the cultural history of the Beat Generation to life. Documentary. (Kim and Niklaus)
Songcatcher: Janet McTeer and Aidan Quinn in a wonderful story of a woman who travels to Appalachia to capture rural folk music on recording cylinders, circa 1907. (Sheila Bernard and Sam Low)
Syriana a cut and paste job not a movie in any way no plot, characters, mood, drama, theme or setting. Trivial and hard to follow to boot and not worth the effort. I piss on it. (Sam)
Sunshine State John Sayles slow, quiet little film about character and sense of place specifically a small community in Florida battling developers. (Sam)
State and Main an arrogant film crew invades a Vermont town so-so entertainment. (Sam)
Tom Dowd and the Language of Music featuring the sound engineer, music producer and musician Tom Dowd, we are introduced to the technical changes that occurred in the sixties that helped produce some of the greatest music ever Coasters, Allman Brothers, Lynrd Skynrd, Aretha. Fun, entertaining and educational what more do you need? (Sam)
Throw Momma from the Train forget it watched first fifteen minutes and shitcanned it. (Sam)
The Wanderers: A great 60s film about a gang in New York and their struggles to stay together. Great cameos of historical moments, Kennedy being shot, an unknown Dylan signing in a cafe among other moments. (Debby Dorsey)
The worker and the hairdresser (Italian) - on video. politics between the sheets. bawdy, rowdy story about leftist worker trying (almost anything) to get it on with rightist hairdresser. (Debby Dorsey)
Tender Mercies Robert Duvall is a down on his luck country/western singer who finds redemption and a new voice in the love of a good (and attractive) woman. (Actually, most any Robert Duvall movie Great Santini etc.) (Sam Low)
This Is Spinal Tap: a zany send-up of rock groups. (Caroline Feeley)
Tibet cry of the snow lion documentary about China 's invasion and repression of Tibetan culture. So so.
The Pathfinder: an amazing and wonderful Norwegian adventure film set in medieval Norway . (Joe Feeley Kim and Niklaus Hart)
Tortilla Soup a single parent father a failing Latino chef - finds redemption as do his daughters. (Sam Low)
The Twilight Samurai Seibei Iguchi is an aging samurai, of low rank, who cares for his ailing mother and two daughters and enjoys farming more than fighting. He is a town curiosity, verging on laughing stock, until called upon to avenge the murder of a clansman. This is the samurai film updated to modern and perhaps more western sensibilities. (sam)
Tortilla Soup: The English-language remake of Eat Drink Man Woman (also wonderful), transplanted from a Chinese family to a Mexican-American family. (Sheila Bernard)
Touch the Sound documentary about Evelyn Glennie an accomplished musician who has been deaf since age 8 capturing the spirituality of sound and rhythm. Beautiful film making. Must see. (Sam) "Hearing is a form of touch," the Scottish percussionist Evelyn Glennie declares. "You feel it through your body, and sometimes it almost hits your face." Those words echo through "Touch the Sound," an impressionistic documentary directed, edited and photographed by Thomas Riedelsheimer. Subtitled "a sound journey with Evelyn Glennie," it is a mystical exploration of the sensory world as experienced by a renowned musician who lost most of her hearing by the time she was a teenager. Expanding on Ms. Glennie's passionate assertion that hearing is only the most obvious component of deeper physical relationship between sound and the human body, the film is crammed with striking visual correlations to the percussive vibrations she conjures. Stephen Holden, The New York Times
True Stories: a David Byrne (Talking Heads) film about a swell town in Texas celebrating its special-ness. Wonderfully wacked. (Joe Feeley)
The Big Tease - a Scottish hairdresser endures hilarious setbacks to compete against the best in the world in a Tinsel Town contest. Nonstop moments of small drama lead to a standupandcheer ending. (Sam Low)
Vera Drake a dark but unbelievably well made film about the life of a struggling family in London and Vera who helps girls out - and whose good heart causes tragedy. (Sam)
The Vicar of Dilby British TV series featuring a brash woman minister who stirs up a sedate English village predictable fun, nothing more or less.
Vincent and Theo story of the two brothers Van Gogh. Somewhere in this list is a documentary about Vincent watch that. In his film, director Robert Altman gets REALLY self indulgent and gives us two hours and twenty minutes of madness and woe. Yep 2 hrs an 20 mins. (Sam)
Visions of Light documentary about the development of photographic style in feature movie making not good, not bad. (Sam)
Volver Pedro Almodovar directed this what? Fantasy? Crime story? Moral tale? Comedy? The story of a grandmother's return from death to comfort and guide her family, revealing surprising plot twists. Not his best, but Almodovar is worth watching anyway. (Sam)
The Virgin Suicides Directed by Sofia Coppola and produced by dad Coppola, a dark story of adolescent sexual bloom that, in the limited oxygen of a Midwest suburb, turns deadly strangely intriguing familiar and trite as is life. (Sam Low)
The Wool Cap it's William Macy but this movie never takes off. Forget it.
You Can Count on Me - Single mom in upstate New York tries to find Mr. Right while being alternately helped and hindered by her visiting problem-prone brother. Sad, funny, wise, depressing and uplifting all at once. NY Times and Hebert : "one of the best of the year" 2001. (Val Hart)
The Widow of St. Pierre a period piece film about St. Pierre de Miquelon and the tragic consequences that attend a drunken murder. Worthy film.
Where the River's Flow North this is supposedly a movie about backwoods Vermont but it seemed more like it was shot in a Louisiana Bayou. The accents were awful and the script nasty. Forget it, we did (Sam)
William Eggleston in the Real World - better said, in his own world. This is a movie about the somewhat weird photographer who managed to make snapshots that stood out. When I first saw his pix my attitude was one apparently shared by folks like Weston what the hell is this? They looked like something I might toss. But, watching this movie, I got a better understanding of Bill. And, beware the beginning like the first view of Bill's pix is awful. But stick with it.
War Dance Ugandan children struggling against abuse and abduction into the rebel army join to perform music and dance at the Kampala Music Festival. Nominated for a 2008 Academy Award this is one of the most beautifully filmed documentaries ever.
What Remains the life and work of Sally Mann. Sally who? I asked when one of my classmates at the Rockport Photographic Workshops mentioned that she would be speaking and showing this film. Well, Sally Mann is one of our best photographers. This is the story of her life and the right wing furor that arises when she photographs her children, often in the nude. But, mostly, it is Sally's story a deep look into the aesthetic quest of a wonderful person and artist. Simply said - one of the best documentaries ever made.
What's Eating Gilbert Grape Leonardo DiCaprio in an amazing performance as a retarded boy. A family in a backwater Iowa town survives and eventually escapes. Nice scene setting, good characters, great acting, simple feel good movie. (Sam)
War Photographer wonderful and very tough to watch story of James Nachtway one of the best social commentary photographers alive.
Walk the line Among the pantheon of great country singers, Johnny Cash (played here by Joaquin Phoenix) may just be the most enigmatic. James Mangold's film distills Cash's transformation from man to icon -- from his hardscrabble days on an Arkansas farm to Sun Records in Memphis , Tenn. , where Cash finally found a way for his talent to come into its own. Reese Witherspoon plays his beloved June, alongside co-stars Robert Patrick and Shelby Lynne. (review from Nteflix)
Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill a man tends a flock of wild parrots and finds his passion and love. Great feel good movie (Sam).
W. Eugene Smith: Photography made difficult nice documentary from American Masters on this great photographer seriously marred by the docu-drama approach and the actor chosen to play Smith. Still worthit.
Whale Rider a young girl fulfills the words of an ancient myth as she vies with her grandfather for her rights to lead her tribe. A wonderful and evocative movie a must see. (Sam)
Who the @#$% is Jackson Pollock? Not a bad film about Pollock and his times. Worth watching