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MALTINFEST LINE UP AND TICKETS

MALTINFEST 2019 at Grauman’s Egyptian Theatre In association with The American Cinematheque May 10-12, 2019     SING STREET (2016) is a musical charmer from John Carney, the Irish filmmaker who made ONCE. It’s the story of a young man who starts making music videos so he’ll have an excuse to talk to a beautiful girl (Lucy Boynton). This is the kind of movie that leaves you feeling better than you did walking into the theater. That makes it a perfect opening night choice. The screening will be introduced by comedian and film enthusiast Doug Benson following a live recording of his popular podcast “Doug Loves Movies.”     PLEASE GIVE (2010) is a sly social satire from writer-director Nicole Holofcener (Oscar-nominated this year for…

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DIANE: A SLICE OF LIFE WORTH SAMPLING

Mary Kay Place is an asset to any movie she’s in, and in Diane she is the center of attention. In his narrative filmmaking debut, writer-director Kent Jones has built a story around her, based on observations of his own family. That, and Place’s honest performance, not only ground this evocative slice of life but make it highly relatable. Diane is a woman who gives and gives and gives. She spends much of her life driving from one place to another: to church, where she helps run a soup kitchen with her friend (Andrea Martin), to the hospital where an old friend is dying, to the home of her drug-addicted son (Jake Lacy) who is in fierce denial when we first encounter him, and to…

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‘DUMBO’ BEGS THE QUESTION: WHY?

Disney’s new live-action Dumbo isn’t awful….but it isn’t very good, either. Why waste so much money and talent on a film that is foredoomed to take second place to a classic? I know it’s all about making money, yet surely there are new ideas to pursue instead of constantly reproducing past successes. In this case the bar is set impossibly high. Dumbo is my favorite animated Disney feature. It’s got heart, humor, and originality. What’s more, it tells its story in just over an hour’s time. It’s a perfect movie. Why Tim Burton would devote himself to a mediocre remake with a bloated script I can’t imagine. I won’t waste my time or yours describing the story, which takes place (of course) at a circus. The screenplay bears only…

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YOURS TRULY, WALT DISNEY

With the recent passing of Dave Smith, the Walt Disney Company’s longtime archivist—a position he created for himself back in 1970—a flood of memories came to mind. Dave was unfailingly kind and generous to me and hundreds of other writers and researchers over the years. His book Disney A to Z: The Official Encyclopedia is one of my most-consulted reference volumes. But the first thing I thought about was an unforgettable article he wrote in 1981 for The Manuscript Society about Walt’s famous signature. I’m grateful to The Society (www.manuscript.com) for permission to reprint it here, and to Dave’s successor, Rebecca Cline, for making it possible to do so. All illustrations appear courtesy of the Walt Disney Archives. I have excised Dave’s introductory recap of Walt Disney’s…

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US: JORDAN PEELE’S COMPLEX TAKE ON HORROR

Get Out announced the arrival of an exciting and important new voice in American film: writer-director Jordan Peele. We already knew what a talented actor and comedic artist he was, but the originality of this trenchant social satire was something else again. What could he possibly do for an encore? Us is a chilling, if marginally more conventional, exercise in horror. It has a prologue teaser that doesn’t fully pay off until the finale, and a number of clever, gruesome twists along the way. Us focuses on an African-American family and a childhood experience that haunts its loving and devoted mom (Lupita Nyong’o). Their trip to a summer house puts them perilously close to the beach at Santa Cruz, California, where Nyong’o had that encounter that hangs over her…

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BINGE-ING ON ORSON WELLES’S ‘MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS’

When people say they are bingeing these days, it usually means watching one or more seasons of a TV series in marathon fashion. I’ve been doing the same thing with a single film: the Criterion Collection’s recent Blu-ray release of Orson Welles’s The Magnificent Ambersons. To be honest, I’ve never given this film much consideration. It’s well-known that the wunderkind’s follow-up to Citizen Kane was butchered by RKO after at least one disastrous preview. The studio didn’t think to save the excised material. so all we have is the 88-minute release print—shorn of more than 30 minutes—which offers only a taste of what the filmmaker had in mind. A generous selection of interviews, commentaries, and video treatises highlight key scenes and call attention to the details of every…

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‘THE AFTERMATH’ SQUANDERS ITS POTENTIAL

I find the period immediately following World War Two in Europe to be one of the most fascinating periods of the 20th century. It has inspired such great films as Fred Zinnemann’s The Search, Billy Wilder’s A Foreign Affair, and Carol Reed’s The Third Man, to name just a few. Now comes The Aftermath, a romantic drama set not in Berlin or Vienna but bombed-out Hamburg, where a British Army Colonel (Jason Clarke) is sent with his beautiful wife (Keira Knightley) to keep a lid on a volatile situation. Their marriage is already fragile after the loss of a son, and this change of scenery only heightens tensions between them, especially when he commandeers the stately mansion owned by a genteel German architect (Alexander Skarsgård), who stays on as a tenant…

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