Neely Swanson

“A Perfect Day” – a sense of irony [MOVIE REVIEW]

“A Perfect Day” – a sense of irony [MOVIE REVIEW]

  “A Perfect Day” is a truly international co-production directed by Fernando León de Aranoa and written by Aranoa and Diego Farias. De Aranoa also served as one of the producers, indicating how passionately he felt about this project that illustrates the political, logistical and emotional difficulties encountered every day by a group of international […]

 Neely Swanson

“Welcome to Leith” – if you’re white [MOVIE REVIEW]

“Welcome to Leith” – if you’re white [MOVIE REVIEW]

by Neely Swanson  “Welcome to Leith,” the outstanding new documentary directed by Michael Beach Nichols and Christopher K. Walker, tells the compelling and horrifying story of the attempted take-over of a dying town by one of the country’s most notorious white supremacists, Craig Cobb. That he failed is a tribute to the courage and ingenuity […]

 Special Contributor

MOVIE REVIEW – “Life in a Walk,” directed by by Yogi Roth

MOVIE REVIEW – “Life in a Walk,” directed by by Yogi Roth

by George Schmeltzer There are as many reasons to walk The Camino as there are pilgrimage trails leading to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. For Yogi Roth, author, athlete, ESPN commentator, world traveler, motivational speaker, former Hermosa Beach resident and, now, filmmaker, the reason to undertake the demanding 240 kilometer walk along the Caminho Portugués from […]

 Neely Swanson

“Forbidden Games” – a loss of innocence

“Forbidden Games” – a loss of innocence

Very few films retain the patina of perfection over the decades and even fewer grow brighter over time. “Forbidden Games” (“Jeux Interdits”), a film by the French giant René Clément, is one of them. Originally released in 1952 and winner of the Best Foreign Language Oscar for 1953, among its many other awards, “Forbidden Games” […]

 Neely Swanson

“Phoenix” – from the Ashes of War [MOVIE REVIEW]

“Phoenix” – from the Ashes of War [MOVIE REVIEW]

“Phoenix,” Christian Petzold’s allegorical story set in post-war Germany, is almost indescribably deep, layered and complex. Adapted from the poorly regarded French novel Le Retour des Cendres (Return from the Ashes), Petzold, writing with Harun Farocki has constructed a metaphor for Germany and the German people as they struggled to deal with their post-war guilt […]

 Neely Swanson

“Samba” – A difficult dance [MOVIE REVIEW]

“Samba” – A difficult dance [MOVIE REVIEW]

“Samba” is a film by writers/directors Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano, the duo responsible for the wonderful “Intouchables” of a few years back. It should have been better, but even so, is still good enough. Benefiting from a superb cast led by Omar Sy, the Cësar-winning actor of “The Intouchables,” and Charlotte Gainsbourg, one of […]

 Neely Swanson

“MARIE’S STORY” – ANOTHER MIRACLE WORKED [MOVIE REVIEW]

“MARIE’S STORY” – ANOTHER MIRACLE WORKED [MOVIE REVIEW]

  “Marie’s Story,” a film by Jean Pierre Améris, is a satisfying emotional roller coaster that will seem more than vaguely familiar. The true tale of Marie Heurtin, a child born deaf and blind in the Loire valley in 1885 whose terrorized but loving parents, unable to communicate with her in even the most rudimentary […]

 Neely Swanson

“I AM BIG BIRD: THE CAROLL SPINNEY STORY” [MOVIE REVIEW]

“I AM BIG BIRD: THE CAROLL SPINNEY STORY”  [MOVIE REVIEW]

One is invisible and virtually unknown and the other is one of the most universally recognized and beloved characters of all time. They are indivisible and have been feeding each other for almost 50 years at the same time that they were nourishing generations of children and parents alike. “I Am Big Bird: The Caroll […]

 Bondo Wyszpolski

MOVIE REVIEW: “Dark Star: H.R. Giger’s World”

MOVIE REVIEW: “Dark Star: H.R. Giger’s World”

Cinematic horror has thrown us plenty of terrifying creatures, but perhaps the one with the most dramatic entrance was the monstrosity in Ridley Scott’s “Alien,” which not only gave us stomachaches but introduced the larger world to the artistry of H.R. Giger. What kind of man had such a dark and disturbing imagination? Belinda Sallin’s […]

 Neely Swanson

“Eastern Boys” – An Eastern Block [MOVIE REVIEW]

“Eastern Boys” – An Eastern Block [MOVIE REVIEW]

“Eastern Boys,” was presumably a well-intentioned love story coming from a different angle. If only director Robin Camillo, who also wrote and edited this effort, had had a clearer vision of what angle he was coming from. Certainly “Eastern Boys” is a love story from the perspective of looking for love in all the wrong […]

 Sean Carroll

MOVIE REVIEW – Furious 7: Furiously Exceptional

MOVIE REVIEW –  Furious 7: Furiously Exceptional

It’s amazing how much mileage The Fast and the Furious franchise has gotten over the course of 14 years. It’s latest installment, Furious 7, is a blast. It delivers everything a fan of this series could possibly want, with the added bonus of a tribute to the late Paul Walker. Furious 7  assumes that you’ve seen the previous movies, […]

 Neely Swanson

“Queen and Country” – Trite and True [MOVIE REVIEW]

“Queen and Country” – Trite and True [MOVIE REVIEW]

“Queen and Country,” a sweet little film by the estimable writer/director John Boorman, whose 60 years as a filmmaker includes “Point Blank” (1967), “Deliverance” (1972), “Excaliber” (1981) and “The General” (1998) has finally produced the follow-up to his sweet-tart autobiographical film “Hope and Glory” (1987) in which he told his own story about growing up […]

 Sean Carroll

“Kingsman” Movie Review – Entertainment fit for a King

“Kingsman” Movie Review – Entertainment fit for a King

You thought I was gonna review 50 Shades of Grey, didn’t you? You thought wrong. I got a vastly superior date movie for you, one that is guaranteed to produce far more titillating pleasure, and arousal. Kingsman: The Secret Service is that movie. A super-violent action-comedy that pays homage to as well as spoofs the James Bond series, Kingsman is, for […]

 Neely Swanson

“Supremacy”- A game of Chess Played Out in Black and White [MOVIE REVIEW]

“Supremacy”- A game of Chess Played Out in Black and White [MOVIE REVIEW]

Deon Taylor’s surprisingly resonant and deceptively deep film Supremacy comes at you with a hammer and ends up filleting you with a scalpel. Taylor, working with Eric J. Adams’ excellent  script, comes out of left field, or more precisely, the low budget horror genre,  to tell the allegedly true tale of Garrett Tully (a cursory […]

 Neely Swanson

“Diplomacy” – Sometimes Works [MOVIE REVIEW]

“Diplomacy” – Sometimes Works [MOVIE REVIEW]

The new film, “Diplomacy,” directed and co-written by Volker Schlöndorff, is the embodiment of both definitions of the word: “the profession, activity, or skill of managing international relations, typically by a country’s representatives abroad” and “the art of dealing with people in a sensitive and effective way.” “Diplomacy” tells the compelling and frightening story of […]

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