Neely Swanson

“Polina” – Ballerina [MOVIE REVIEW]

“Polina” – Ballerina [MOVIE REVIEW]

by Neely Swanson Coming of age movies come in all shapes and sizes but rarely do they deal with the issues faced by Polina.  A dancer groomed at a very early age to gain entry to the prestigious Bolshoi ballet, she trains relentlessly. Enormous parental sacrifices are made in order to help their daughter, who, […]

 Neely Swanson

“Le Trou” – Whole in so many ways [MOVIE REVIEW]

“Le Trou” – Whole in so many ways [MOVIE REVIEW]

by Neely Swanson Thousands of prisoners have been incarcerated at La Santé prison in Paris since 1867 and many were guillotined, a practiced that was abandoned when the death penalty was ended in 1981. Only three have ever escaped. “Le Trou” (“The Hole,”) originally released in France in 1960 and the U.S. in 1964, presented […]

 Neely Swanson

“The Fencer” – Stays there too long [MOVIE REVIEW]

“The Fencer” – Stays there too long [MOVIE REVIEW]

“The Fencer,” the overly sincere “based on a true story” film about Endel Nelis, an Estonian fencing master who is forced to flee Leningrad after the war as Stalin ramps up his purge of Estonians, considered  enemies of the State because they were drafted by the Nazis in World War II. Arriving in Haapsalou, Estonia, […]

 Neely Swanson

“Whose Streets?” – Good question [MOVIE REVIEW]

“Whose Streets?” – Good question [MOVIE REVIEW]

by Neely Swanson “Whose Streets?” is a heartfelt and emotional documentary inspired by the aftermath of Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, Missouri. Written and directed by Sabaah Folayan and co-directed by Damon Davis, the film vividly expresses the anger felt by African American communities everywhere faced with this and too many other similar incidents that […]

 Neely Swanson

“Stefan Zweig – Farewell to Europe” – He won’t be back [MOVIE REVIEW]

“Stefan Zweig – Farewell to Europe” – He won’t be back [MOVIE REVIEW]

by Neely Swanson “Stefan Zweig, Farewell to Europe,” is a well-intentioned portrait of the last years of Austrian writer Stefan Zweig, one of the world’s most recognized writers of the pre- and post- World War II period. A secular Jew, he recognized the rising dangers in his homeland and exiled himself to England in 1934.  […]

 Neely Swanson

“Afterimage” – Burned in the brain [MOVIE REVIEW]

“Afterimage” – Burned in the brain [MOVIE REVIEW]

by Neely Swanson “Afterimage,” the final film in the illustrious career of Andrzej Wajda, the winner of an honorary Academy Award in 2000, is ostensibly about Wladyslaw Strzeminski, the great Russian/Polish painter and one of the founders of the Constructivist movement in Poland, having worked alongside Kazimir Malevich in Russia. Moving from Russia to Lithuania […]

 Neely Swanson

Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story – eternally yours [MOVIE REVIEW]

by Neely Swanson “Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story” is documentary filmmaker Daniel Raim’s ode to a couple whose greatest triumph was their relationship.  Amusingly and appropriately told using archival film footage, interviews, home movies, and storyboards by the talented Patrick Mate, “Harold and Lillian” is about Harold Michelson, one of Hollywood’s premier storyboard […]

 Neely Swanson

“Burden” – Rarely [MOVIE REVIEW]

Chris Burden, one of the leading artists emerging in the 70s and part of the so-called “California School,” is given an excellent posthumous send-off in Richard Dewey and Timothy Marrinan’s documentary entitled “Burden.” Burden rose to national fame, some would say infamy, while still a graduate student in the newly formed art division at the […]

 Neely Swanson

“Truman” – An allegory [MOVIE REVIEW]

“Truman” – An allegory [MOVIE REVIEW]

  by Neely Swanson  “Truman” is a sincere attempt at showing the intimacy only old friends can share. Julián, a respected actor, is dying. He knows it, his friends know it and maybe even his dog Truman knows it. Still, he is surprised when Tomas, now living in Canada with his wife and children, shows […]

 Neely Swanson

“Betting on Zero” – but it may be all you’re left [MOVIE REVIEW]

“Betting on Zero” – but it may be all you’re left [MOVIE REVIEW]

by Neely Swanson Betting on Zero, the brilliant new docu-thriller written and directed by Theodore Braun, follows the story of Bill Ackman, billionaire CEO and portfolio manager of Pershing Square Capital Management as he tries to uncover the true pyramid scheme structure of Herbalife, the multibillion dollar firm that, while ostensibly promoting a healthy lifestyle […]

 Neely Swanson

“The Salesman” – A tough sale [MOVIE REVIEW]

“The Salesman” – A tough sale [MOVIE REVIEW]

  “The Salesman,” the latest film from Iranian master Asghar Farhadi (“A Separation,” “The Past”), is another strong character drama in which a tragic circumstance tears at the fabric of what had been a strong relationship. Present day Tehran has all the problems of big cities everywhere to which is added insoluble infrastructure problems, a […]

 Neely Swanson

“Things to Come” – Life goes on [MOVIE REVIEW]

“Things to Come” – Life goes on [MOVIE REVIEW]

by Neely Swanson “Things to Come,” written and directed by Mia Hansen Løve, arrives on the scene with a major calling card – its actress, the incomparable Isabelle Huppert. Ms. Huppert is that rare star, surely she deserves her own solar system, who bears watching no matter the material. In the case of “Things to […]

 Neely Swanson

“The Lovers and the Despot” – A film to die for [MOVIE REVIEW]

“The Lovers and the Despot” – A film to die for [MOVIE REVIEW]

by Neely Swanson In an absolute case of “truth is stranger than fiction,” “The Lovers and the Despot” both defies credulity and inspires awe.  This documentary by Rob Cannan and Ross Adam tells the story of South Korean film makers, Shin Sang-ok, a director of renown, and his ex-wife Choi Eun-hee, that country’s most famous […]

 Neely Swanson

“London Road” – To and from and back again [MOVIE REVIEW]

“London Road” – To and from and back again [MOVIE REVIEW]

  by Neely Swanson “London Road,” ostensibly about serial killings that centered on one street, the aforementioned London Road, in the seaside city of Ipswich about 70 miles from London, is deceptively about the much bigger topic of community under siege. Originally work-shopped at the National Theatre, conceived and written by Alecky Blythe in collaboration […]

 Neely Swanson

“Fatima” – Nowhere to turn [MOVIE REVIEW]

“Fatima” – Nowhere to turn [MOVIE REVIEW]

by Neely Swanson “Fatima” is certainly a well-intentioned film. Director Philippe Faucon grew up in France as a first generation child in a family where his grandparents never spoke French. They were part of an immigrant class who came to a new country and had a difficult time maneuvering in a culture that was alien […]

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