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A MUST-SEE NEW DOCUMENTARY: VISHNIAC

I feel foolish admitting that I was unfamiliar with Roman Vishniac and the incredibly evocative photos he shot in Weimar Germany and its surrounding countries before they fell victim to Hitler and the Nazi party. Little did he dream that he was capturing the faces and attitudes of people who would vanish from the earth a short time later—a “lost generation.” His daughter could recall standing in his darkroom watching these images come to life, and she is the primary link to the protagonist of Laura Bialis’s compelling new documentary Vishniac. The pictures alone would warrant a feature-length film—and fill several published volumes—but Vishniac lived into his 90s and thrived in a second career here in the U.S. as a scientist who popularized microphotography. His…

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SOME 2023 SLEEPERS WORTH CATCHING

Every year some good movies fly under the radar (or slip through the cracks, if you prefer), despite the best efforts of distributors and drum-beating by critics who do their best to spread the good word. Here are a few that I think are worth your time. Jules is a quiet film of considerable charm. Ben Kingsley has been outfitted with a wig that gives him the look of an ordinary American small-towner. He is so convincing that it’s easy to forget who is playing this eccentric character: a man who cried wolf. He lives by himself and attends every city council meeting with the same complaint about an unmarked crosswalk. Then one day a spaceship lands in his backyard and with it comes an alien…but…

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A BIT OF CRUMPET

Leonard here. My colleague Mark Searby is going to be sharing columns with us highlighting British cinema past and present. Please enjoy A Bit of Crumpet. I have a quote on my wall from writer/director Guillermo del Toro that reads:  “I think that you go to the movies for the reason that when you’re a Catholic you go to church. Because even though it doesn’t happen every time, now and then you have a spiritual experience. And the rare time it happens, it’s sufficient to keep you coming back.”  And he is correct. Those moments in cinema that we treasure for a lifetime are just magical, maybe even religious.  But what if not just watching the movie is magical, but the actual venue itself is…

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FERRARI: WORTH WAITING FOR

Producer-director Michael Mann has been trying to get this movie made for thirty years. (His co-screenwriter Troy Kennedy Martin died in 2009!) But Ferrari has finally crossed the finish line in style. It’s exciting, intelligent, witty and elegant, with a central performance that’s a knockout. In some ways the delays have accrued to its benefit: CGI has come a long way and enabled crucial scenes to be filmed in credible (and grim) detail. But Mann has done his best to avoid such trickery: he commissioned a fleet of 1957 red Ferrari replicas to use in his picture. With due thanks to cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt and editor Pietro Scalia the racing scenes are arguably the most vivid and visceral ever committed to film. Extra applause for David Werntz,…

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WHAT’S NEW ON DVD/BLU-RAY/4K IN DECEMBER

The following article was written by my friend and colleague Alonso Duralde. You can learn more about him HERE. What’s New on DVD/Blu-ray/4K in December: Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, Clue, Columbo, and More NEW RELEASE WALL Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (The Criterion Collection): In recent years, we’ve seen filmmakers from Roberto Benigni to Robert Zemeckis try and fail to come up with a new spin on the classic Carlo Collodi puppet-who-becomes-a-boy story, but del Toro’s staggeringly original take finally emerges from the huge shadow of the beloved Disney adaptation. Working in stop-motion animation for the first time, the director brings his trademark sense of wonder and horror to the tale, and the results are unforgettable. Also available: The Creator (20th Century/Disney): This rare non-IP science-fiction movie…

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WHAT’S NEW ON DVD/BLU-RAY/4K IN NOVEMBER 

The following article was written by my friend and colleague Alonso Duralde. You can learn more about him HERE. What’s New on DVD/Blu-ray/4K in November: Oppenheimer, Barbarella, WandaVision and More NEW RELEASE WALL Oppenheimer (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment): Yes, it’s what the legendary persnickety Christopher Nolan always wanted – people watching his 70mm on their home systems. But the director’s legendary persnickitiness means that this new 4K release is technically on-point; even those not enamored of his ambitious biopic about the man behind the atomic bomb will no doubt be using this disc to show off the intricacies of their 4K setup (and Dolby sound system). Also available: The Equalizer 3  /  The Equalizer 3-Movie Collection (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment): Denzel Washington’s third and final (?)…

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MY FAVORITE FILMS OF THE YEAR

MY FAVORITE FILMS OF THE YEAR The Holdovers Maestro Killers of the Flower Moon Nyad Ferrari Are you There, God? It’s Me, Margaret Poor Things Fallen Leaves American Fiction Origin There is no objectivity in crafting “ten best” lists at the end of the year; it’s all a matter of opinion. I like to think that mine is an informed opinion, at least, but it still reflects just one person’s point of view. These are the films that spoke to me this past year. I enjoyed both components of Barbenheimer but neither Greta Gerwig’s megahit nor Christopher Nolan’s (predictably) overlong docudrama meant that much to me. But when I watched Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, I realized that I was witnessing a rare bird: a movie…

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