Top 50 films for Halloween

Just in time for Halloween, here’s my list of the 50 best horror, mystery, thriller and/or suspense films of all time. While most Halloween lists focus just on horror, mine includes all types of spooky and mysterious movies, from slasher to classic mystery to film noir. Not surprisingly, the director with the most films on […]

Farewell to a journalistic giant

I’ve been a movie critic, writer, proofreader, editor and reporter, but regardless of the hat I’ve worn, I’ve always tried to be a journalist, adhering to the ethics of journalism. And there’s never been a greater journalistic inspiration than Ben Bradlee, who passed away today at the age or 93. The world is a less […]

‘Gone Girl’ good, not great

David Fincher’s Gone Girl seems like a combination of his brilliant The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and disappointing Zodiac in style, story and quality. It’s worth seeing and is one of the most memorable films of the year, but it seems almost as if he was swinging for a grand slam and could manage […]

The trend toward Hyper-realism

I wrote this blog back in 2011, but this is its first posting on this site: I spent last night watching Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, and I was struck, as I am almost on a daily basis, with this generation’s obsession with realism. In contrast, Fassbinder’s 1972 movie is […]

IDEA showcases ethnic diversity of NYC

Those of you from New York City, or those who just appreciate dialects and accents, might find this information interesting. By the way, this is my other job: executive editor of the International Dialects of English Archive (IDEA). The Website is the largest online archive of dialects and accents of the English language from around […]

‘Umbrella’ is all wet

I’m always thankful to the Enzian Theater in Maitland, Florida, for showing hard-to-see classics, but The Umbrellas of Cherbourg?! I waited 50 years for the restoration of that? I actually admired the originality of the all-singing structure, and the color was beautiful. The trouble is almost everything else stank. I suppose if you enjoy contrived […]

48 Hour Film Project returns to Orlando

The 48 Hour Film Project, the world’s largest timed filmmaking competition, is back in Orlando. Although the Orlando event itself won’t take place until August 22-24 (with the public screenings scheduled for Sept. 10, 11 and 14 at Plaza Cinema Cafe), the meet-and-greets are already underway. Those meet-ups are designed to introduce filmmakers and foster […]

‘On the Waterfront’ on the big screen

Elia Kazan’s 1954 masterpiece On the Waterfront is coming to the Enzian Theater in Maitland on May 10, 2014. But what’s the correct aspect ratio for this film? Believe it or not, there are three. See my blog at www.orlandoweekly.com for a discussion.

Cheers, Bob

A very sad goodbye to the great Bob Hoskins. Toons everywhere are crying today.

False ‘Frozen’

I’ve officially had enough of hearing that Frozen is the most successful animated feature of all time. It’s all bullshit perpetuated by the entertainment industry. Adjusted to inflation, Frozen is #109 on the list of highest-grossing domestic movies. Yes, #109! Snow White is #10, 101 Dalmations is #11, The Lion King is #18, and Fantasia […]

Masquerading Muppets

Life imitates art with Muppets Most Wanted (2 stars on 0-5 scale). In the new comedy/musical, Kermit is kidnapped and replaced by Constantine, an evil frog that looks remarkably like the leader of the Muppets. Surprisingly, virtually none of the other Muppets can tell a difference. Sure, the replacement looks like Kermit and does some […]

Susan Sarandon set for Florida Film Fest

Susan Sarandon will be attending a screening of Dead Man Walking at this year’s Florida Film Festival and will be doing a Q&A session after. For details, see my blog at www.orlandoweekly.com.

‘The Lego Movie’: time to play

I’m a little late to this conversation, but I figure that since I still have Lego that I made as a child and I refuse to let anyone touch it, you’ll forgive the tardy post. Yes, The Lego Movie is surprisingly worth seeing (3 ¼ stars on 0-5 scale). It’s superbly animated, with a great […]

Comparing the foreign films of 2013

Broken Circle Breakdown (3 ¼ stars on my 0-5 scale) is better than Blue is the Warmest Color (2 ½ stars). It’s more original, tighter, and displays more mature and effective storytelling. But The Great Beauty (4 ½ stars) is still by far the best foreign-language film of the year. See my review of it […]

A double dose of Sorvino at the FFF

Veteran actor Paul Sorvino will appear not once, but twice, at the upcoming Florida Film Festival. For details, see my blog at www.orlandoweekly.com.

Filmapalooza article now online

For a recap of my recent trip to Filmapalooza in New Orleans, including links to many of the best films, click here.

Florida Film Festival is coming!

We’re just three weeks away from the start of the Florida Film Festival. Read my blog at www.orlandoweekly.com.

Loved ‘Love Your Shorts’

A huge thanks to Nelson Beverly and everyone else associated with the 2014 Love Your Shorts Film Festival in Sanford, Florida. They treated filmmakers, judges and the public with great respect, and it was an honor to be one of the judges. We selected Spy vs. Guy as the best of the fest, but there […]

Get shorty!

My annual review of the Oscar-nominated short films This year’s Oscar-nominated live-action and animated shorts represent a wide variety of subjects and genres. And though I’m giving a thumbs-up to all 13 – the animated program contains the five nominees plus three more “highly commended” selections – there is quite a bit of variance in […]

Goodbye, Mr. Hoffman

I’m still trying to process the passing of perhaps the greatest actor of his (and my) generation last weekend. It feels like something on the scale of James Dean’s death, eclipsing or at least equalling the impact of all other similar tragic events, except probably the murder of John Lennon. Hoffman’s death falling on Groundhog […]

Worst of 2013

I don’t see as many bad movies as you might think. In fact, I try to devote my movie time to films I think are going to be good. So, unlike some of my movie buddies who have recently posted their “Worst of 2013” lists, I don’t have enough candidates for a “worst-10” list. Nevertheless, […]

Three movies that are dividing critics

Three movies I’ve recently reviewed have been dividing my friends and fellow critics: Saving Mr. Banks (big thumbs-up), August: Osage County (thumbs-up) and The Wolf of Wall Street (thumbs-down). I stand by my reviews and my placement of those first two films in my top 10 for 2013 so far, but I do understand the […]

Here we go again, zombies

As many of you know, I’m not a fan of the zombie sub-genre. I always feel like I’m watching the same movie over and over, and I’m not scared, just a bit disgusted by the violence and repetitive plots. (Yeah, yeah, you’re all going to say it’s not really about the zombies. Well then, why […]

McConaughey my top actor of 2013

I can’t believe I’m writing this, but in a year that has seen some of the best lead-actor performances ever, my pick for best male performer is Matthew McConaughey. With his roles in Mud (which actually premiered at Cannes in 2012) and Dallas Buyers Club, not to mention The Wolf of Wall Street, which I’ve yet […]

Enzian announces expansion plans first revealed in my ‘Orlando Weekly’ story

In a letter to Enzian supporters, Executive Vice President Elizabeth Tiedtke has confirmed what I first reported in my April article in The Orlando Weekly: The Enzian will indeed expand to a second and third screen. “To respond to our community’s hunger for what we offer, we have developed plans to add two theaters to […]

Observe Veterans Day with a patriotic film

Happy Veterans Day. If you’re in the mood for a patriotic film, let me suggest three unconventional choices: All the President’s Men, JFK and Harlan County U.S.A. Instead of the typical flag-waving, these films give you something deeper, something even more patriotic: the search for truth (however painful it may be) and the desire to […]

‘Lovelace’ exciting but hard to swallow

I can’t give Lovelace a full-throated endorsement, mostly because of its deep disrespect for the facts, but I was excited enough by the performances and the two-way plot structure to offer a slightly limp thumbs-up (2 ½ stars on 0-5 scale).

The camera of ‘I Am Cuba’ conquers all

If you’re a cinematographer and haven’t seen I Am Cuba, the Soviet/Cuban movie from 1964, watch it now! Although the film itself is mediocre in parts, the camera is fearless and beautiful. It conquers fire, water, smoke, heights and even gravity to get the right shot. (Note: Try to see the version without Russian overdubbing.)

’12 Years a Slave’ belongs in top 10

“Your story: It is amazing. And in no good way,” Bass (Brad Pitt) tells Solomon (Chiwetel Ejiofor). The same could be said for Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave (4 stars), which will surely end up among the top 10 films of the year, worthy of an Oscar nomination for best picture. It’s emotionally powerful […]

Orlando Film Festival update

The Orlando Film Festival started on Wednesday and continues today and Sunday. For general information, see Erin Sullivan’s story in the Orlando Weekly. The festival has expanded greatly this year, taking up one entire side of the Plaza Cinema Cafe in downtown Orlando. I spent all day there yesterday (Friday), and have a few tips […]

Bringing ‘Gravity’ down to earth

I admit it: I wanted to be blown away, like most critics and bloggers. I just wasn’t. Gravity, it seems, just didn’t pull me in as much as I had hoped. It’s still a good film and definitely one of the must-sees of the year. For me, it’s worthy of 3 ¾ stars, making it […]

Barry Anderson: Movie-Makeup Mayhem

Just in time for Halloween, famed movie-makeup guru Barry Anderson is doing a special demonstration of his art at the North Orange Branch of the Orange County Public Library in Apopka, Fla., from 3 to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 12. Learn tips and tricks from Anderson, whose work was featured in such films as […]

Disappointing ‘Don’

Despite a remarkably self-assured directorial debut by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who also wrote and stars, Don Jon is not a film I can recommend. It’s as crass as the pornography it depicts, and ends up being to sex what Natural Born Killers was to violence, although the latter film survived on style points alone, which Don […]

Expanded Short Films list now online

My updated and expanded Short Films list is now online. It contains ratings of more than 400 movies from 1888 to today. Most of the recent additions are films by groundbreaking French filmmaker Alice Guy, the industry’s first female director, from 1896 to 1907.

‘Act of Killing’ one of 10 best docs of all time

The Act of Killing, directed by Joshua Oppenheimer and executive-produced by Werner Herzog and Errol Morris, is a powerful and unforgettable addition to the family of documentaries that attempt to expose the atrocities of the past through painfully honest interviews with those who committed those atrocities. But it’s so much more: a surreal exercise in […]

Peace in the City Beautiful

The Global Peace Film Festival opened in Orlando tonight (Tuesday, Sept. 17) and continues through Sunday. Check out my cover article in this week’s Orlando Weekly.

FilmSlam this Sunday at Enzian

September FilmSlam is this Sunday, the 15th, at the Enzian Theatre in Maitland. Come out to support indie and student filmmakers in Central Florida. Although the selections always vary widely in quality, it’s a great place to network with fellow filmmakers and film fans while keeping tabs on what new moviemakers are up to. Click […]

Final thoughts on the “48”

Now that the Orlando edition of the 48 Hour Film Project is over, it’s time to reflect. First, I need to thank Erin Sullivan, my editor at The Orlando Weekly, for giving me a chance to cover this. (See my main story about this year’s Project.) I also should thank Rob Ward, who had the […]

Not “Spectacular” but still quite good

The Spectacular Now isn’t spectacular, but it’s quite good and a realistic, welcome break from the typical coming-of-age film. It gets 3 ½ stars (on my 0-5 scale). Refreshingly non-formulaic in parts, it does lurch toward contrivance toward the end, but it still leaves an emotional impact. Miles Teller is good at playing “dead behind […]

New Disney short to star Walt – yes, Walt!

I haven’t been this excited to see a new short film in, oh, ever? Check out this link talking about the cartoon, which will be debut with Frozen in November, 2013.

Best silent films of all time?

What are the top 10 silent films of all time? Yes, I’ve added yet another top-ten list to my genre page . (It’s the second list from the bottom.) Spoiler alert: Chaplin has half the films on the list, but there are a couple of surprises that slip in. I’m just sorry I couldn’t get […]

Best film series of all time?

If you were to make a list of the best movie series and/or franchises of all time, where would you start? Sure, most of us would place The Godfather Trilogy up there, along with the Star Wars films. But what comes after those? I believe you have to consider the quality of each movie in […]

‘The Conjuring’ possessed by … other films

Under the category of better late than never, I finally saw The Conjuring. (I often wait to see horror movies at home, in the dark, by myself, because, after all, isn’t that the creepiest way to watch them, instead of having to listen to the giggles of all the moviegoers around you in a cinema?) […]

‘Harlan County U.S.A.’ best doc of all time

After finally seeing Harlan County U.S.A., Barbara Kopple’s amazing 1976 documentary about coal miners in Kentucky, I’ve placed it atop my all-time doc list. It’s now one of just two docs on my list to achieve masterpiece status (4 ¾ or 5 stars). The Sorrow and the Pity is the other. If you haven’t seen […]

Something missing from ‘The East’

Was anyone a bit disappointed in The East? It’s Brit Marling’s latest, and though the story is intriguing, uniquely presented and tight, it just couldn’t get over the proverbial hump, quality-wise, for me. Maybe it was the contrived episode by the lake in jam #2, or the overuse of handheld camera, or the over-emphasis of […]

I recommend Woody’s latest, ‘Blue Jasmine’

I recommend Blue Jasmine, Woody Allen’s latest drama (3 ½ stars on my 0-5 scale). While it might be considered a commentary on the financial collapse of the last decade, or societal and class divisions, at its core it’s a great character study and a wonderful vehicle for Cate Blanchett to show off her talents. […]

Bad is never good: the lesson of ‘Sharknado’

Tonight the connoisseurs of crap will gather at the Falcon in Thornton Park, near downtown Orlando, Florida, to watch a special showing of Sharknado, the latest piece of junk that the SyFy Channel and Asylum Studios have thrown at the small screen. I and many of my friends are going, looking forward to a good […]

I couldn’t wait for ‘The End’ to end

A lot of people, including many of my friends and the majority of film critics, seem to like This is the End. I found it self-indulgent, pretentious, overly crude and just plain unfunny. Though it’s not the worst comedy I’ve seen in the last couple of years, it’s another one in a long line of […]

Entertainment Weakly

By now, many of you have perused Entertainment Weekly‘s odd collection of top-100 lists. In their latest issue, they have lists for movies, albums, plays, TV shows and books. First, let me commend them for attempting this. As a list lover myself, I was eager to see what they would select. With that said, the […]

‘The Lone Ranger’ an exhilarating ride

Gore Verbinski’s The Lone Ranger is the best action/adventure movie of the summer so far. It’s everything Man of Steel wasn’t. It’s true to the spirit of the characters while giving them a unique reworking, packed with action and adventure without being too heavy on CGI, and filled with life and humor. Yes, it’s a […]