After seeing “The Front Page” on B’way, I rented this 1940 adaptation by Howard Hawks. The central character, Hildy, is changed to a woman (Rosalind Russell) and Walter Burns is not only her editor but her ex-husband. The gender switch works, adding romantic conflict to an already very busy storyline. But the real star here is Howard Hawks and his trademark overlapping dialogue. How you direct three actors all talking at once and keep it comprehensible is beyond me. But he does it. I sit and watch/listen with jaw agape. There’s real chemistry between Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell and the film flies along.


Ove is pronounced OH-veh.  A gentle adaptation of a gentle story about a lonely curmudgeon who’s softened by the younger family that moves in next door. (If you’re flashing to “St. Vincent,” I’m right there with you.) Frothy, sentimental, predictable, but…soothing.


At the suggestion of David Schow, I streamed this Norwegian revenge flick through Netflix. Think “Death Wish” crossed with “Fargo” and “Yojimbo” and you’ve got the idea. The Norwegian snowscapes are as daunting as they are awe inspiring. (There’s something majestic about those snow plows sending up endless plumes of white.) Good cast, mostly strangers but so few of them survive it doesn’t matter. It’s all done with a bit of a wink; I even LOL’d in a couple of spots. (Remade – very well, in fact – as Cold Pursuit with Liam Neeson.)


A good-natured, fun, sometimes funny animal buddy flick with excellent backgrounds and animation. That said, except for Kevin Hart as Snowball, the voice characterizations are meh (and why Albert Brooks gets an “and” is beyond me). I was wondering why this film grossed close to $1B (most of it overseas) and then realized: Pets are a universal common denominator, and the animators nailed pet behaviors. Everyone seeing this film recognized their pet in one of the characters.


Had to watch this. I’m sure he couldn’t resist the offer: “Film my mayoral campaign? Sure!” He thought he’d win, of course. The doc reveals a narcissistic extrovert totally lacking in impulse control (some examples right there on camera). The epitome of NY chutzpah: After his original sexting scandal, how could he think his “Carlos Danger” sexcapades wouldn’t come to light? Yet he ran anyway. It’s interesting to watch Huma in the background gradually distancing herself from him as things go from bad to worse to cringingly awful.



You really must see this. It’s 1952 and a little Coast Guard lifeboat is battling ginormous waves (the CGI really works here) to rescue the surviving crew of a tanker that has broken in two during one of the North Atlantic’s “perfect storms.” Because it’s based on a true story, you’re never sure if this lifeboat will end up like the Andrea Gail, so the tension is unrelenting. (Okay, it’s a Disney Production, so you can guess how it will turn out, but in medias res you are there.) Understated acting, excellent editing, direction, and pacing.



I watched this documentary with a nostalgic rush. Back in the day, the East Village Tower Records was a regular stop whenever I was in NYC. It carried EVERYTHING. Domestic, foreign, indie, spoken word, sound effects – you name it, they had a section for it. They started with one store in California and grew to be a worldwide chain; started with vinyl, added tapes, added CDs, and then…the mp3 arrived and the record/CD market collapsed. It’s the story of one man’s vision, providing an unhurried atmosphere for music lovers, a cool staff that promoted from within, and good prices. A fascinating tale about how changes in technology can buoy you and destroy you, how they giveth and how they taketh away.



I’m going to have to post a *spoiler* alert here, but really, when that first hallucination hits, you’ll see the whole film laid out like a Chinese buffet. Before you reach that point, however, you have to make so many leaps (let’s make them pole vaults) of faith and suspensions of your disbelief by the cajones, that you might not get that far. The first hurdle is transferring the consciousness of one person into the body of another; a hoary SF concept that I accept because of its seniority. But for the Kingsley character to accept that the handsome, fully-developed, well-muscled body destined to be his new home was somehow grown just for him exceeds the tensile strength of my credibility. After that, it becomes a decent action thriller. Not many films present their characters with a moral dilemma of this magnitude, but there’s never any real doubt that we’ll have a Hollywood ending. And I won’t even mention the deus-ex availability of a flamethrower for the climactic scene (oh, wait…I just did)
FF=0 (It had one nice twist and I kept waiting for more)


An excellent Bobby Fischer biopic that’s wrenching as we watch his descent into total paranoia. Somehow he pulls it all together to beat Boris Spassky in the 1972 World Chess Championship. Game 6 of the tournament is supposedly the greatest chess game ever played. At its finish Spassky stands and leads the audience in applause for his opponent’s skill. It’s a tragic story of a brilliant mind and blinding potential destroyed by delusions of persecution by godless communists and predatory Zionists (even though Fischer was Jewish and part Russian). He died an ex-pat in Iceland in his mid-sixties. It’s amazing how much suspense a skillful script and cast can build into a chess match.