To understand and appreciate the revisionist genius behind Far from Heaven, directed by Todd Haynes, one needs to appreciate the cinematic impact of Douglas Sirk (1900-1987), a director whose jaundiced view of American life played out in a series of films in the 1950s that have been rightly celebrated for their panache.
Through the decades filmmakers from assorted countries have attempted to probe the inner lives of the clergy. Pastors' lives have been approached in hushed tones, as in Ingmar Bergman's Winter Light (1963); with compassion, as in Robert Bresson's Diary of a Country Priest (1950); and with a cutting edge, as in Luis Buñuel's Nazarin (1958).
While driving home after viewing Bowling for Columbine, I tuned into a radio discussion about the Washington, D.C., sniper. The exchange centered on whether the sniper was a "serial" or "spree" killer." Only in America, I thought, does the public knowledgeably categorize mass-murderers.
Let me begin by saying that, yes, I had a big, fat Greek wedding. It was performed in the shadow of the dome of the church where my grandfather had once been priest. Our reception took place in the church basement, where I was surrounded by my extremely large and loving Greek family.
Cowardice in the movies is one of those all-too-human flaws that tends to get under an audience's skin as they sit in the dark and wonder what they might do under similar circumstances. Would I go over the top onto a bloody battlefield or stay frozen in my foxhole? Step out into a dusty western street to face the bad guys or cower in a doorway as someone else does the job?
Thoreau's line about "the mass of men leading lives of quiet desperation" could be applied to Justine Last, the lead character in The Good Girl, a low-budget morality play by writer Mike White and director Miguel Arteta, the same team that produced the creepy but moving Chuck and Buck.
The summer blockbuster Signs is a 1950s B movie wrapped up in 21st-century finery. This goofy smorgasbord of a film juggles questions of faith, terrifying shock cuts and comic asides with admirable dexterity.
If there were such a thing as an American moviemaker laureate, the title would go to writer-director John Sayles. Since 1980 he has been addressing moral, political and personal issues in American culture, with special emphasis on the dilemmas that confront the working class at the crossroads of love and hope.
Despite its state-of-the-art computer graphics and eye-catching special effects, Minority Report is basically a chase movie built on a question—one that Charles Dickens explored in A Christmas Carol. Dickens's Ebenezer Scrooge asks the visiting spirits if his foretold future of loneliness and gloom is how things "will" be, or how they "might" be.
Think of a conflict between father and son, and chances are good you'll find it buried somewhere within Road to Perdition, director Sam Mendes's first film since the hugely successful, if flawed, American Beauty.
My aunt, who died earlier this year, was a woman of great strength and a raucous sense of humor. But despite having three children who loved her dearly, there was clearly something missing in her life, something that revolved around an arduous marriage to a man who was often angry. Even 20 years after he died, this gap still manifested itself.
The films John Woo made in Hong Kong were perfectly matched to the interests of young American audiences, filled with blazing guns, macho posturing and bloody climaxes. Not only did Woo do what U.S. studios were looking for, but he did it better than anyone else, especially in A Better Tomorrow, The Killer and Hard-Boiled.
Adrian Lyne's Unfaithful is more graphic in its portrayal of the act, but it comes no closer than most recent films to confronting the issues surrounding adultery. Once again, it is the physical activity, not the consequences, that gets most of the attention.
A tale of redemption" is a phrase that film critics like to toss around. It usually makes some sense, since most dramas have at least one character who realizes the error of his or her ways and tries to do something about it before the curtain falls--a sort of low-rent form of redemption.
While it may be coincidental that two of the most famous English-language movies of all time--Steven Spielberg's beloved E.T.--The Extra-Terrestrial and Stanley Kubrick's revered 2001: A Space Odyssey--are being rereleased in the same year, it is probably no coincidence that E.T. opened the weekend before Easter.
I recently took my five-year-old son to see Return to Neverland, the sequel to the classic 1953 Disney animated film Peter Pan. The story is similar to the original, except that this time around it is Wendy's daughter, Jane, who takes the magical journey to help Peter and Tinkerbell fight Captain Hook.
It has been over a quarter century since the last American body bag was airlifted out of Vietnam, and after a series of disturbing, castigating and sometimes surreal movies about that reviled war, Hollywood clearly feels that the coast is clear to present a Vietnam combat film that adheres more closely to the old rules of the genre.
With A Beautiful Mind, director Ron Howard (Apollo 13, Cocoon) and screenwriter Akiva Goldsman (Batman and Robin, A Time to Kill) have produced a polished and carefully crafted piece of Hollywood glitter that seems intent on celebrating (to borrow from Faulkner) humanity's ability "not merely to endure, but to prevail." The sojourner in question is John Forbes Nash Jr