Menu

I FEEL PRETTY: GOOD INTENTIONS DON’T PAY OFF

Amy Schumer is so likable in the early stages of this fable that I found myself actively rooting for the movie. I wanted it to be good, as poignant and believable as its leading character. Alas, I Feel Pretty runs aground and never regains its equilibrium. Schumer plays an underpaid, overworked, overweight New Yorker who carries bad luck like an albatross around her neck. Then, after throwing a coin into a fountain one night and blacking out at her gym the next day, she undergoes a magical transformation. She finally has everything she’s dreamed of–but it’s all in her head. She hasn’t changed a bit, but the belief that she is beautiful and stylish makes her a new, super-confident woman. This leaves her two frowsy best friends…

Read More…

HOORAY FOR B MOVIES

I’ve always found a certain charm in vintage Hollywood B movies, and apparently I’m not alone. The Museum of Modern Art recently screened a selection of Republic Pictures titles endorsed by Martin Scorsese. Warner Archive has just released three 1940s titles on DVD I’d never seen before: Murder in the Big House (1942), Danger Signal (1945), and Hotel Berlin (1945). The term “B movie” in the 1930s and 40s referred to a film with an abbreviated running time, intended to fill the lower-half of a double feature. The major studios also used these “programmers” as a proving ground for up-and-coming talent on both sides of the camera. Murder in the Big House is a prototypical Warners B, directed by B. Reeves “Breezy” Eason, who specialized…

Read More…

THE RIDER: A SLEEPER YOU SHOULDN’T MISS

Simplicity is not in vogue among today’s filmmakers, but The Rider is so consistently good that it has wowed critics and audiences on the film festival circuit. It has also accumulated an impressive number of awards. Now that it’s in theaters I urge you to join its many champions; just don’t approach it with outsized expectations. The protagonist is a young man who has been working the rodeo circuit for most of his life. An accident has left him with staples in his skull and the inability to ride, let alone engage in competition. A taciturn Westerner, he internalizes his problems, especially as this deals with male pride and an understandable fear of what the future may hold. He lives a hardscrabble existence with his macho father…

Read More…

NEW AND NOTABLE FILM BOOKS – April 2018

TRAVELS WITH WALT DISNEY: A PHOTOGRAPHIC VOYAGE AROUND THE WORLD by Jeff Kurtti (Disney Editions) I’m a sucker for anything to do with Walt Disney. This handsomely designed volume documents his many travels, including a stint as an ambulance driver in France in 1918, the now-famous expedition to Central and South America in 1941, a return to Marceline, Missouri with his brother Roy in the 1950s, and numerous vacations with his wife Lillian. (One of those trips, to Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, helped to solidify his thoughts about building a theme park, while a later visit to Switzerland inspired the Matterhorn attraction.) This book is packed with rare, candid photos—some right out of a family album—and assorted ephemera that covers nearly half a century.  …

Read More…

REMEMBERING CHUCK McCANN

No one made me laugh harder than Chuck McCann, on two memorable occasions. I was 13 when my friend Bobby London got us into a live broadcast of Chuck’s daily kiddie show, then on WNEW in Manhattan after a long run at WPIX. With no peanut gallery of kids on hand, Chuck played to his crew and kept them chuckling non-stop. Bobby and I remained unobtrusive in the darkened studio and tried to stifle our laughter as Chuck portrayed hawk-nosed Dick Tracy and the largest Little Orphan Annie you ever saw. He was flat-out hilarious, and while we were already fans he won our hearts forever that afternoon. Then I was allowed to attend my first grown-up Sons of the Desert banquet at the Lambs…

Read More…

A QUIET PLACE: WHERE SOUND BRINGS TERROR

I don’t enjoy horror films for the most part but I was glued to the screen for A Quiet Place, a truly scary movie that’s artfully executed. John Krasinski directed, co-wrote the script, and stars in the film with his wife Emily Blunt. All we know at the outset is that alien creatures have decimated the human population and are activated by noise making it essential for Krasinski, Blunt and their children to maintain silence as much as possible. As it happens, they already know sign language because their daughter is deaf. She is played (beautifully) by Millicent Simmonds, who is actually deaf and appeared in last year’s Wonderstruck. I can’t remember the last film that made such ingenious use of sound—and silence. Kudos to sound designers…

Read More…

CHAPPAQUIDDICK: HISTORY MADE HUMAN

Even if you aren’t old enough to remember the sensational incident that inspired this movie, Chappaquiddick offers a fascinating portrait of a man burdened by a family curse: Edward “Ted” Kennedy. The year is 1969 and the junior senator from Massachusetts is living in the shadow of his three elder brothers: Joseph, the “chosen one” who died in World War Two, Jack, who became President but didn’t live to serve out his first term, and Bobby, who was gunned down in yet another national tragedy. Mary Jo Kopechne was riding with Ted Kennedy when his car careened off a narrow bridge on Chappaquiddick Island. The aftermath of this horrific incident is what defined the Senator and his powerful family for years to come. First-time screenwriters Taylor Allen…

Read More…

‘READY PLAYER ONE’ ALMOST WINS

I am not a gamer, but I had no trouble immersing myself in the hyperkinetic world of Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One and had a good time watching it—for a while. I don’t share the same degree of nostalgia for the 1980s that younger people cling to, but we all cherish the movies, songs, TV shows and (yes) video games of our youth. (Hey, even I played Centipede way back when.) Adam Stockhausen’s production design is dazzling, and it’s fun to identify the nonstop references to pop culture, but they come in such profusion that the process becomes exhausting instead of exhilarating. I always enjoy seeing Marvin the Martian, for instance, but he’s onscreen for the length of an eye-blink—in the same shot as dozens of other…

Read More…

‘ISLE OF DOGS’ OFFERS REWARDS—AND REGRETS

It may be the height of redundancy to call a Wes Anderson film eccentric, but that’s the word that comes to mind as I ponder his newest creation, Isle of Dogs. Like The Fantastic Mr. Fox, it is executed in stop-motion animation and the look of the film is astonishing, from its striking Japanese settings to the richly nuanced expressions of his canine protagonists. I marvel at the skill of the specialists who sculpt these intricate puppets and then bring them to life, one frame at a time. The story deals with the mean-spirited mayor of a Japanese city who insists that a strain of disease requires all dogs to be exiled to an island that normally serves as a garbage dump. A quartet of former house pets (and…

Read More…

ALL HAIL ‘KING OF JAZZ’ FROM CRITERION

If you’re wondering why there are shouts of jubilation from film buffs and aficionados of pre-swing-era music it’s because the Criterion Collection has released a beautiful Blu-ray and DVD of King of Jazz (1930), The movie features Bing Crosby’s first appearance onscreen, as part of the Rhythm Boys trio, jazz giants Joe Venuti and Eddie Lang, and a spectacular rendition of George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” by Paul Whiteman, the orchestra leader who commissioned the piece just six years earlier. Impossible to see for decades, unearthed in the late 1960s (with foreign-language subtitles), then given desultory release on VHS, this pioneering early-talkie in two-color Technicolor has finally been made whole. I wrote about the West Coast premiere of its restoration at the Academy of Motion…

Read More…

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER

PODCAST

Maltin On Movies

PAST MALTIN ON MOVIES PODCASTS

APPEARANCES/BOOKING

Leonard Maltin Appearances & Bookings

CALENDAR

April 2018
S M T W T F S
« Mar    
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
2930