Melissa Anderson

Cotillard's trainer gets too close to the whale.

To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, one must have a heart of stone to

To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, one must have a heart of stone to watch Jacques Audiard's outrageous melodrama without laughing. Loosely adapted from two works in… Continue reading

 

Gerwig in Frances Ha.

My 10 Film Picks for 2013

Most of the blathering this year about the death of film and film culture has already evaporated from the mind, like so much inert gas.… Continue reading

 

Leo plays another blue-collar recovery case.

Francine: Melissa Leo Embraces Her Typecasting

Simultaneously withholding and smothering, Francine, about a woman just released from prison, provides Melissa Leo (in the title role) another opportunity, after Frozen River and… Continue reading

 

Watts as storm survivor.

The Impossible: Naomi Watts Versus the Tsunami

When the words "true story" appear twice in a film's opening disclaimer, it's a guarantee that what follows will include at least one questionable fiction.… Continue reading

Watts as storm survivor.
The physician (Hoss) seeks to flee.

Barbara A Superb Story Set in East Germany

Set in East Germany in 1980, Christian Petzold's superb Barbara is a transfixing Cold War thriller made even more vivid by its subtle overlay of… Continue reading

The physician (Hoss) seeks to flee.
Prospective parents Dillahunt (left) and Cumming.

Any Day Now: Alan Cumming in a Gay Adoption Drama

Homo history repurposed as courtroom soap opera. Director Travis Fine, greatly embellishing a script written decades ago by George Arthur Bloom—who based it on a… Continue reading

Prospective parents Dillahunt (left) and Cumming.
Willis and Hall aren't so lucky with their script.

Lay the Favorite: Bruce Willis in a Lightweight Gambling Tale

A wan comedy about gambling that takes no risks, Stephen Frears' Lay the Favorite has none of the stinging sordidness of his 1990 The Grifters.… Continue reading

Willis and Hall aren't so lucky with their script.
Fass in his studio.

Radio Unnameable: Remember When Talk Radio Was Actually Intelligent?

A sporadically hard-selling homage to a cult hero from an overchronicled era, Radio Unnameable considers the career of Bob Fass, whose late-night free-form radio program… Continue reading

Fass in his studio.
Lavant reprises his ogre character from the Tokyo! anthology (also directed by Carax).

Holy Motors: Leos Carax’s Unclassifiable Comeback

Unclassifiable, expansive, and breathtaking, Leos Carax's Holy Motors stars Denis Lavant, the simian, sinewy actor who played the lead in Carax's first three movies, as… Continue reading

Lavant reprises his ogre character from the Tokyo! anthology (also directed by Carax).
One of Bestiaire's four-legged stars.

Bestiaire: Denis Cote Goes to the Zoo

The Parc Safari in Hemmingford, Quebec, is, per its website, home to 500 animals of 75 different species; its goal is to "protect and preserve… Continue reading

One of Bestiaire's four-legged stars.
Ornette Coleman at the 1967 Monterey Jazz Festival.

Ornette: Made in America: The 1985 Jazz Documentary Gets a Second Spin

The invaluable American independent filmmaker Shirley Clarke (1919–1997) once said: "There is no real difference between a traditional fiction film and a documentary. I've never… Continue reading

Ornette Coleman at the 1967 Monterey Jazz Festival.
Director Eugene Jarecki.

The House I Live In: The Real Cost of the War on Drugs

Eugene Jarecki's Sundance award-winning doc is an occasionally muddled disquisition on the colossal failure of the war on drugs. It rehashes much that will be… Continue reading

Director Eugene Jarecki.
Macy as a very permissive man of the cloth.

The Sessions: John Hawkes and Helen Hunt Have Serious Sexytime

"You were really and truly inside me," Helen Hunt's sex surrogate Cheryl assures her client, 36-year-old Mark O'Brien (John Hawkes), a poet and journalist confined… Continue reading

Macy as a very permissive man of the cloth.
Vreeland in her famous red room.

Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel: Remembering the Late Fashion Icon

Raconteuse, epigrammatist, and mythomaniac, peerless fashion editor Diana Vreeland (1903–1989) might have loved words as much as she loved Balenciaga. As Harold Koda of the… Continue reading

Vreeland in her famous red room.
Cotillard at the beach.

Little White Lies: Marion Cotillard Goes on Vacation

This bloated spin on The Big Chill follows a septet of grating, mostly Gen-X Parisians as they half-guiltily decide to proceed with their summer-holiday plans… Continue reading

Cotillard at the beach.
The happy central couple.

Planet of Snail: They’re Not Disabled. They’re Married

An unadorned, unsentimental portrait of a marriage, Yi Seung-jun's documentary celebrates the daily life of an exceptionally collaborative couple. Young-chan is deaf and blind; his… Continue reading

The happy central couple.
The same old song? Sagnier with Radivoje Bukvic.

Beloved: Catherine Deneuve Sings Across Time

Writer/director Christophe Honoré revisits the musical—the genre of his biggest stateside hit, Love Songs (2007)—in Beloved, a sprawling mess of multiple romantic triangles in which… Continue reading

The same old song? Sagnier with Radivoje Bukvic.
All the ladies love Marie (Kruger).

Farewell, My Queen: Palace Intrigue Before the Revolution

Benoît Jacquot's soapy, sexy, lezzie adaptation of Chantal Thomas' 2003 novel about the chaos at Versailles on the eve of the 1789 revolution is told… Continue reading

All the ladies love Marie (Kruger).
Wallis out to sea.

Beasts of the Southern Wild: A Half-Charming, Half-Annoying Sundance Darling

A zealous gumbo of regionalism, magical realism, post-Katrina allegory, myth, and ecological parable, Beasts, the southern Louisiana-set debut feature of 29-year-old Benh Zeitlin, rests, often… Continue reading

Wallis out to sea.
Williams and Rogen on shaky marital ground.

Take This Waltz: Michelle Williams Strays Into Temptation

Sarah Polley's second feature, much like her superb Away From Her (2006), thoughtfully probes the pitfalls of coupledom and third-party threats. Five years into their… Continue reading

Williams and Rogen on shaky marital ground.