Category Archives: Film Reviews

My once-hotly-defended enthusiasm for cinema has waned. Even most of the “timeless classics” I revered seem tedious and passé, and I suspect that the virtues of nearly all of our cultural endeavours are ephemeral. Few of my erstwhile film students find the films I once adored even watchable because they reflect the historical moment in which they were made, a moment long gone down Orwell’s “memory hole.” I don’t blame them: old men may mistake feelings of nostalgia for perceptions of quality. Thus liberated from the aesthetic preferences of my formative years, I now employ my political views in evaluating the few films I see. In a world where works of cultural dissent are codified, commodified and re-interpreted by corporate interests, films are made for the young class of people who enjoy sufficient discretionary funds to consume fashionable artifacts reflecting approved values. Oldsters like me, on the other hand, are preoccupied with gradual withdrawal from a culture that no longer nurtures us: as consumers, we’re busy dying. This has led me to prefer political over aesthetic analysis, although the two aren’t mutually exclusive. If I have a contribution to make, it may lie, like my Course Corrections, in the realm of the politics of film – in assessment of their role as propaganda.

FILM REVIEW: LES MISERABLES, THE KING’S SPEECH and The Zombie Apocalypse

Kicking and screaming, I was dragged into my living room, last evening, to view the premiere of the finally-available-for-free film of Les Miserables. But the “free” aspect didn’t compensate for the lost hours spent watching it. I had enjoyed the … Continue reading

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Movie Review THE MERCHANT OF VENICE directed by Michael Radford

Michael Radford’s disturbing film adaptation of William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice (2004), starring Al Pacino as Shylock, Jeremy Irons as Antonio, Joseph Fiennes as Bassanio and Lynn Collins as Portia, is a barometer of contemporary social attitudes: it ambiguously … Continue reading

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FILM REVIEW: A Different Kind of Movie: Jean-Luc Godard’s LES CARABINIERS

Although Jean-Luc Godard’s 1963 film, Les Carabiniers (a.k.a. The Carabineers) was among my favorites when I was a film student in the late 1960s, I approached TCM’s recent screening with trepidation. Not only had Godard’s work after Tout va bien … Continue reading

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Movie Review: CHICAGO directed by Rob Marshall

It’s a challenge to keep one’s critical faculties alive in the face of the powerful dose of sound, image and celebrity that the Rob Marshall film, Chicago(2002), delivers – especially given a media campaign (and a box-office gross) that keep … Continue reading

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Movie Review: SIDEWAYS directed by Alexander Payne

Writers lives are, if not a “hot” topic in Hollywood, at least a warm one. Since film projects often begin with writers, it’s no surprise that the cinematic gaze sometimes turns navel-ward. The writing life has been mined for entertainment … Continue reading

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Movie Review: REDS directed by Warren Beatty

After devoting considerable thought and research to the subject, I’ve concluded that Warren Beatty is an ambivalent socialist. This may come as a shock. Socialists of any stripe are rare in America, perhaps, nowhere more so than in Hollywood. Beatty’s an unusual … Continue reading

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Movie Review: THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES Directed by Walter Salles

Genuine revolutionary heroes are a rarity on the silver screen. Hollywood prefers its rebels to be apolitical, self-destructive and defeated. For every film that even dares to mention a Lenin, a Trotsky or a Castro, there are a dozen celluloid … Continue reading

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Movie Review: VERA DRAKE directed by Mike Leigh

British filmmaker Mike Leigh’s film, Vera Drake, is about a factory worker and mother who, in defiance of the law, gives free abortions to women. As usual with films about British working class life, it’s also about the tyranny of … Continue reading

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