Landline dir. Gillian Robespierre

A well-crafted, perfectly-cast, subtle, and engaging portrait of a New York family going through some growing pains, Landline was a delight to watch. Robespierre and her team get the pertinent details of mid-nineties New York just right, but not to the point where the details of the place overtake the details of the plot: the…

Women on Wall Street Take Charge

Money Monster (directed by Jodie Foster), is set in one of those shiny financial market TV shows full of exaggerated numbers and practically devoid of facts or pragmatic advice. Its king and money monster is Lee Gates, who faithfully (if cynically) reports on the latest and greatest financial instruments that the common people should invest in. His salesmanship,…

Weiner and the Politics of Politics

In the new documentary Weiner, former congressman Anthony Weiner is filmed making various campaign stops during his 2013 bid for mayor of New York City. At one of the stops, he tries to talk about affordable public housing in the Bronx, but none of the reporters wants to talk about this. Instead, they harangue him with…

Top Five dir. Chris Rock

There is a freshness, immediacy, and honesty to Top Five that makes it a very successful film, both critically and commercially. Chris Rock, as writer/director/producer, takes a classic story about artistic redemption and adds generous doses of insight, humor, and plain good timing. I can’t remember the last time I was belly-ache laughing in a…

Annie and the American Dream

While I enjoyed the marvelous and much-beloved John Huston film adaptation of Annie (1982) and thoroughly enjoy all the songs, I am no Annie purist. I have enjoyed various “faithful” and “reworked” TV and stage versions of the stories, all with the central themes of love, family, and redemption. Let us also not forget that…

Close-up, onstage: Auteurs Over Broadway

This spring, Woody Allen’s  Bullets over Broadway gets the stage treatment with seasoned Broadway director/choreographer Susan Stroman—on Broadway, no less, at the St. James Theater. Downtown at the Public, previews are on for the Steven Soderbergh-directed The Library, written by his frequent and gifted collaborator, Scott Z. Burns. Bullets, playing uptown, is very old New…