Live blogging the Oscars 2021

11:16 p.m. Will Smith, after coming after Chris Rock, accepts Best Actor for King Richard, compares himself to the patriarch of the Williams clan defending his family. 11:10 p.m. I’m not a Cumberbatch fan at all — I don’t understand his attraction as an actor — but he’s the best performer in this category, theContinue reading “Live blogging the Oscars 2021”

The one who insists he was first in the line: The best songs that inspired movies

Using pop songs to inspire films accelerated in the 1980s and 1990s for the purpose of movies that would singe the eyebrows of the faithful. Can’t Buy Me Love? Calendar Girl? Love Potion No. 9?Have these films ever faced you in a dark alley? As much as I can’t stand the John Hughes-scripted Pretty inContinue reading “The one who insists he was first in the line: The best songs that inspired movies”

The economic politics of film streaming

Longtime instructors grab from a ready wheelbarrow of accumulated tricks the parables, dad jokes, and double takes with which to hold students’ attention for ninety minutes. At some point in the semester, often in the first third, I watch my film students wince on learning I still request DVDs. Buying movies they understand. The coversContinue reading “The economic politics of film streaming”

The best final films

Whether it was Orson Welles proving how filmmaking and prestidigitation are species from the same genus, Bob Fosse pointing out the rot in the cultivation of a public persona, or Douglas Sirk shoving Americans’ noses into the cake of their polite racism, these final films incarnated what made these directors watching. All of then rankContinue reading “The best final films”

Ranking the films of David Fincher

On first glance, the stylish MTV videos he directed for stars and wannabes look like his strongest work. So much of David Fincher’s film career consists of genre efforts with chic staging of violence. But like Otto Preminger the lumbering pace of bureaucracies and the sturdiness of institutions fascinate him: police departments (Seven, Zodiac), HarvardContinue reading “Ranking the films of David Fincher”

Florida Film Critics Circle nominations: ‘Marriage Story’ leads the pack

The usual tensions between wanting to recognize smaller over splashier fare manifested itself in the nominations by Florida Film Critics Circle, the organization to which I belong. Marriage Story led with the most nominations. I’m delighted to see Transit‘s Franz Rogowski and the enthusiasm for Céline Sciamma’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire, which hasn’tContinue reading “Florida Film Critics Circle nominations: ‘Marriage Story’ leads the pack”

HTV’s best films of 2010-2019

No one who loved film in South Florida could have predicted ten years ago the arrival of several art house theaters. With the opening of O Cinema and Coral Gables Art Cinema and the transplanting of MIami Beach Cinematheque to bigger digs on Washington Avenue  (O took over MBC last August), and the reactivation ofContinue reading “HTV’s best films of 2010-2019”

On fighting the last liberal battles

I belonged to a Facebook film forum to which I’d often post links to my lists and reviews. On Friday afternoon a couple members and I had what I thought was a polite discussion about gender and sexuality and the casting of Scarlett Johannson as a transgender character in Rub & Tug, specifically about theContinue reading “On fighting the last liberal battles”

Claire Denis: ‘Solitude is something very special…’

The New Yorker‘s Alice Gregory interviewed Claire Denis as the French director works on High Life, herEnglish-language début starring Robert Pattinson and André Benjamin of Outkast and set in space. Among many fascinating bits are the following: After buying coffee and taking her seat, Denis began to talk about her mother, who had died, atContinue reading “Claire Denis: ‘Solitude is something very special…’”

‘The Shape of Water’ takes ‘gleeful delight in torture and pain’

After mixing a second cocktail like I never do on school nights and blistering my fingertips, I endured an Oscar ceremony slightly less predictable than expected: the appearance of nonagenarian Eva Marie Saint, trim and still hardy with a grin and a quip, enlivened a somnolent evening even with the likes of Ansel Elgort andContinue reading “‘The Shape of Water’ takes ‘gleeful delight in torture and pain’”

Queering Kevin Spacey

Too young for Wiseguy, I recognized Kevin Spacey as a formidable actor after watching him play an office manager with more cunning than his colorlessness would suggest in the film version of Glengarry Glenn Ross. I wasn’t sure he coded queer onscreen until he and Judy Davis spent ninety minutes bitching in 1994’s forgotten TheContinue reading “Queering Kevin Spacey”