Menu

THE LESS-THAN-MAGNIFICENT SEVEN

(Image Courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / Columbia Pictures)

If you’ve never seen a Western before, Hollywood’s latest effort to revive the genre may divert and even entertain you. After all, Denzel Washington is good, as always, Chris Pratt has some funny lines, and all the superficial ingredients you’d expect are in place, from quick-draw action to swinging saloon doors. But you don’t have to know the 1960 movie with Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen or its source, Akira Kurosawa’s breathtaking The Seven Samurai, to know that something is missing. The characters aren’t well-drawn. The politically correct presence of a heroic Mexican, a Native American, and an assertive woman add little to the proceedings. And the movie never effectively sells the story point that made the earlier films so compelling: why a bunch of…

Read More…

HOLLYWOOD SPEAKS FRENCH: UNDISCOVERED RADIO DISCS

Cinema Lacquer discs

The history of movies and radio repeatedly intertwine, as I discovered when I wrote my book The Great American Broadcast. At no time was this more apparent than the 1940s, when all of Hollywood worked together to support the war effort. Now, performer and musicologist Michael Feinstein has come upon a cache of transcription discs that open a new chapter in this underappreciated facet of show-business. As he writes, “The other day I was going through transcription discs that belonged to a man named Gerald Kean who worked in radio, for years with Norman Corwin, and found about 30 shows he produced in French with Hollywood stars such as Cary Grant, Dinah Shore, Gene Tierney, Marsha Hunt, etc. I can’t find anything about them online.…

Read More…

VARIETY IN TORONTO

Arrival Amy Adams

[by Rob Edelman] We now are entering the annual fall film festival season, and an array of Oscar-hopeful features are screening at festivals in anticipation of their theatrical play. This year at the Toronto International Film Festival, the hype involved a host of high profile films and red-carpet-strolling movie stars. Two, for example, star Amy Adams. Nocturnal Animals may feature a potentially intriguing storyline and an eye-opening opening sequence. But dramatically, it fell apart for me. On the other hand, Arrival is a sci-fi tale that oozes intelligence and should be a well-deserved Oscar contender. However, not all the films screened in Toronto are high profile. What interests me are the films that are not overhyped because of their subjects, because they do not feature…

Read More…

LIAR’S POKER

jack-elam

[by Nat Segaloff] In this excerpt from Screen Saver: Private Stories of Public Hollywood, Nat Segaloff writes about the great character actors Slim Pickens and Jack Elam and the actress Deborah Walley. Nat began as a movie publicist and then became a critic during the mid-1970s when Hollywood was in transition between the old studio days and what became today’s youth-oriented industry. The following chapter is a behind-the-scenes observation about three of the fascinating people Nat included in his book. Take a dollar bill. Look at the serial number. Now imagine that the bill is a poker hand where the twos are deuces, the threes are threes, and so forth, up to the zeros being tens, the ones being aces, and there aren’t any face…

Read More…

OLIVER STONE’S SNOWDEN: TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE

Snowden-Joseph Gordon Levitt

Does the world still need a primer on Edward Snowden? If the answer is yes, then Oliver Stone has performed a service by dramatizing the events that turned a patriotic young man into a disillusioned whistle-blower and, some say, a traitor. If you’re already familiar with this notorious figure Snowden won’t shed any particular light on the subject. And if you’ve seen Laura Poitras’ Oscar-winning documentary Citizenfour (2014) you’ve already experienced the most exciting part of the story, when he spills the beans to a pair of reporters and a documentarian in a Hong Kong hotel. Being there as Snowden reveals what he knows about U.S. government surveillance of its own citizens is almost indescribably gripping and immediate.   Joseph Gordon-Levitt is well-cast as the…

Read More…

BRIDGET JONES’S BABY: JUST BARELY GOOD ENOUGH

Renee Zellweger-Bridget Jones Baby

How is the new Bridget Jones movie? Just good enough to satisfy its target audience. Fifteen years after the original hit movie, Renée Zellweger is back as the self-deprecating diarist created by Helen Fielding in her best-selling book. Hugh Grant, who costarred in Bridget Jones’s Diary and its 2004 sequel Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, is absent here. This time around the single television producer finds herself torn between series returnee Colin Firth, impeccable as ever as an emotionally reserved barrister, and an American entrepreneur, played with charm and verve by Patrick Dempsey. One of them, in fact, becomes the father of her unexpected bundle of joy. The film is handsomely mounted and the actors are likable, but this is strictly formula stuff, hardly…

Read More…

A MUSICAL LIKE NO OTHER: ‘LONDON ROAD’

Olivia Coleman-London Road

You may have read about the early success of a new musical on the festival circuit called La La Land…but there is another film just coming to theaters that warrants your attention, especially if you care about the future of musical film. London Road is based on the much-praised National Theatre stage production and it’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. For one thing, there’s the subject matter: the effect a serial killer has on a working-class street in Ipswich, England. The lyrics are based on testimony and interviews given by various people who recount their feelings and experiences after their quiet neighborhood was rocked to its very core…and then, somehow, found a way to revitalize and reinvent itself. Leading the cast is the glorious…

Read More…

LILY RABE SCORES TOP HONORS AS ‘MISS STEVENS’

Lily Rabe-Miss Stevens

Miss Stevens is a small-scale but entertaining film that’s worth seeing for an incandescent performance by its star, Lily Rabe (the daughter of playwright David Rabe and the late Jill Clayburgh). Rabe is hardly a newcomer, having amassed a string of television and stage credits, but this leading role as a dedicated high-school teacher gives her a rare moment of her own in the spotlight. Miss Stevens is a high-school English teacher in her late 20s who agrees to take three talented students on a weekend field trip to an acting competition. The kids try to learn more about her over the course of their road trip and cross some dicey boundaries. The younger actors (Timothée Chalamet, Lili Reinhart, and Anthony Quintal) are all good…

Read More…

ADIEU TO A JAZZ GIANT

Toots Thielemans-750

I was heartbroken to learn about the death of harmonica virtuoso and all-around jazz great Jean “Toots” Thielemans several weeks ago at the age of 94. I knew he had been ill in recent years but somehow that doesn’t soften the blow. He was one of my favorite performers, whether whistling and playing guitar in unison, as he did on his signature tune “Bluesette,” or coaxing the most beautiful sounds from his harmonica. He made more than a casual contribution to movie music, as well. I can never forget the haunting music that closes Midnight Cowboy; the music is John Barry’s but the performance is Toots. Quincy Jones, Henry Mancini, John Williams, Burt Bacharach and other top film composers used him on a regular basis,…

Read More…

HOW TO SEE GOOD MOVIES RIGHT NOW!

Susan Sra

Good movies are too scarce to be ignored or tossed aside; that’s why I’m making a pitch for some recent favorites like The Meddler with Susan Sarandon, Rose Byrne and J.K. Simmons, which is now available for home viewing. Lorene Scafaria’s winning comedy-drama is based on her own experiences, which is why this movie has the unmistakable ring of truth. You can check out my full review HERE and you can hear my podcast conversation with Sarandon HERE. Then there’ s Genius, starring Colin Firth as the legendary literary editor Maxwell Perkins. This labor-of-love project, written by the prolific John Logan, also stars Nicole Kidman, Laura Linney, and in one of the best performances of the year, Jude Law, as Thomas Wolfe. Not everyone praised…

Read More…

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER

PODCAST

 photo MALTIN_ON_NOVIES_AD2_zpsboz6pvfm.png

APPEARANCES/BOOKING

 photo MALTIN_APPEARANCESON_NOVIES_AD_v2_zpscy41sntv.png

CALENDAR

September 2016
S M T W T F S
« Aug    
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
252627282930