Even Though the Whole World Is Burning (2014)

Even Though the Whole World Is Burning (2014) Stephen C. Schafer documented the American poet W. S. Merwin, who took his family inheritance, bought land on Maui, and spent his last decade struggling to recultivate the plants that had been devastated. A great political and environmental activist, Merwin was an authentic troubadour poet, existing outside the … More Even Though the Whole World Is Burning (2014)

The Navigator (1924)

The Navigator (1924) Give Buster Keaton a naval ship being sold for scrap metal and stand back to see what he will do with it.  Stuffy, upper-class twit Rolo Treadway [Buster Keaton] finds himself adrift on the high seas, accidentally accompanied by the rich heiress Betsy O’Brien [Kathryn McGuire] who had turned down his marriage … More The Navigator (1924)

Zelig (1983)

Zelig (1983) How can anyone watch a Woody Allen film with innocence any more? Mia Farrow as distraught Dr. Eudora Nesbit Fletcher stares into the newsreel camera , wondering where her neurotic patient, the chameleon Zelg, has disappeared.  Is the inability to commit to an authentic identity the psychological trauma that Woody Allen had spent … More Zelig (1983)

Honeyland (2019)

Honeyland (2019) The risk with any documentary is that no one ever knows what story will emerge. It took real fortitude for directors Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov to make the journey to this remote village of Bekirlija, in Macedonia. There they discovered Hatidže Muratova, an elderly beekeeper, and spent three years exploring her life … More Honeyland (2019)

Humoresque (1946)

Humoresque (1946) With the hands of Isaac Stern playing the violin, John Garfield portrays a talented musician, rising above his social class to perform symphonic masterpieces for his upper-class patron, Joan Crawford. Antonín Dvořák’s Humoresque swoons beneath these star-crossed lovers. Screenwriter Clifford Odets must have saved the best wise-cracking lines for the authentic pianist Oscar … More Humoresque (1946)

Crash (1996)

  Crash (1996) For me, there is considerable difference between reading a book and seeing a film adaptation. David Cronenberg channelled J. G. Ballard’s cold, metafictional novel of individuals using car crashes as a way to incite sexual pleasure. This steely dissociation is something Cronenberg magages to visualize, pursuing his interest in human flesh as … More Crash (1996)

Tampopo (1985)

Tampopo (1985) Juzo Itami recreated the Spaghetti Western as a Japanese quest for the perfect noodle. Playing off the myth that only a truck driver knows the best places to eat, Gorō [ Tsutomu Yamazaki] with bull horns on the hood, meets Tampopo [Nobuko Miyamoto] the terrible cook, teaming up to discover the secret to … More Tampopo (1985)

Trading Places (1983)

Trading Places (1983) Is it nature or is it nurture? John Landis directed Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy in this comedic fairy tale where a bankrupted broker and a street hustler take revenge on the Duke Brothers [Ralph Bellamy and Don Ameche] for upsetting their lives just to wage a bet.   The commodities market of … More Trading Places (1983)

The Shaggy Dog (1959)

The Shaggy Dog (1959) A favorite film from my childhood, this surreal comedy traps Tommy Kirk inside the body of a  Old English Sheepdog, to the bewildered consternation of his father Fred MacMurray, a mailman with an allergy to dogs. It makes perfect sense, however, since Anette Funicello could turn any male teenager into a … More The Shaggy Dog (1959)