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SLIDE SHOW: Woody Allen's greatest films

Woody Allen, whose career will be celebrated next week by PBS’ documentary series American Masters, has been making films for so long that it’s a wonder the program didn’t profile him sooner. With 47 directing credits, 68 screenwriting credits, and let’s-not-even-start-totaling his Oscar wins and nominations, he’s a gray-haired machine who gets more done in a decade than most artists accomplish in a lifetime.
  • By Matt Zoller Seitz
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  • November 19, 2011 2:50 AM
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  • 1 Comment

Eastwood's "J. Edgar" takes few risks with its controversial subject

You'd think Clint Eastwood would be the right guy to direct a movie about J. Edgar Hoover. After all, who better to tell the story of the 20th century's most influential law enforcement officer, the man who wrote the rule book on fighting crime only to disregard those rules when they prevented him from getting his man, than Dirty Harry himself? Or, to be less obvious, what would the man responsible for White Hunter Black Heart, A Perfect World and Million Dollar Baby — movies about men who defied authority, be it Hollywood, the law or God — bring to the life story of the man who held authority over the country for nearly 50 years? Alas, Clint Eastwood's stately biopic J. Edgar is a frustrating experience. For nearly 2 hours and 20 minutes we are held captive by the possibility of a major revelation or insight into a man whose obsession with cataloging every single detail of a person's personal and professional lives foretold the collapse of privacy. We get hints, intimations and suggestions of darker urges that shaped Hoover's behavior, but nothing concrete about the man's personality, and no attitude whatsoever toward his actions. Eastwood mistakes vagueness for ambiguity and puts us in the position of being armchair psychiatrists.
  • By Aaron Aradillas
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  • November 18, 2011 9:15 AM
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  • 0 Comments

GREY MATTERS: With "Grimm" and "Once Upon A Time," TV fantasy casts its spell with mixed results

  • By Ian Grey
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  • November 17, 2011 12:04 PM
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  • 2 Comments

LISA ROSMAN: Lars von Trier's MELANCHOLIA is a masterpiece

Lars von Trier is not a brother who provokes a neutral response: there are those who feel he can do no wrong, and then there are naysayers like me. Although I consider Dancer in the Dark one of the best movies of the last decade, I swore I’d never sit through another of his films after suffering through the school-play machinations of Dogville. A guy who so unilaterally criticizes America without ever having stepped foot on its soil deserves a similar boycott, I declared.
  • By Lisa Rosman
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  • November 16, 2011 3:40 AM
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  • 3 Comments

Why did so many Nazis get away with murder?

Simon Weisenthal’s greatest contribution to the world was his dogged pursuit of Nazi criminals who escaped punishment at the end of World War II. His second greatest contribution was his reminder that despite being described as “the Good War” or “a just war,” not enough good was ultimately done, and comparatively little justice was meted out. Some of the most prominent and heinous architects of mass murder simply got on with their lives, and some were the recipients of largesse — jobs, travel assistance, even money and government protection — that was denied to the people who endured their cruelty. And we tend to forget that for every high-ranking sadist or mass murderer who was imprisoned or executed after the war, thousands more who assisted them directly (through action) or indirectly (through silence) were never even called to account.
  • By Matt Zoller Seitz
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  • November 15, 2011 7:52 PM
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  • 0 Comments

The Chicago Way: Crime Story back on DVD for its 25th Anniversary

On September 18, 1986, director Michael Mann (Heat) made good on his promising career in TV and film with the debut of his new period cops-and-robbers saga, Crime Story. Not only did Crime Story’s feature-quality production design live up to that of its TV antecedent, Mann’s stylish Miami Vice; Crime Story also fulfilled its aim to present a morally complex world in which it was often difficult to tell those who broke the law from those who upheld it. Set in 1963, the show explores the multiple facets of a young hood’s rise to power in the Chicago Mob through the viewpoints of its three protagonists. Ray Luca (Anthony Denison) is the pompadoured criminal quickly ascending the ranks of the “Outfit.” Lieutenant Mike Torello (Dennis Farina) is the cop in charge of Chicago’s Major Crime Unit (or MCU) who bends the law in the service of justice. And David Abrams (Stephen Lang) is the idealistic young lawyer caught between the two men and their obsessive cat-and-mouse game. Today, a little over 25 years since its premiere, Crime Story: The Complete Series (Image Entertainment) comes out on DVD. At press time, review copies were not made available, so it’s impossible to ascertain if any improvements have been made over the questionable video quality of previous iterations. But this short-lived series, an influential precursor to the well-written serials littered throughout cable this decade (i.e., The Sopranos, Mad Men, Justified, and others), is worth owning despite any potential issues with its digital transfer.
  • By Tony Dayoub
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  • November 15, 2011 7:15 PM
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  • 0 Comments

In creating "Blind Love: In Memory of Steve Jobs," Illusionist Paul Gertner wonders how humans will process emotions in a digital realm

Look, I don't mean to come across as crass or insensitive, but I'm officially tired of hearing about Steve Jobs' legacy. I'm not saying he wasn't the visionary, creative genius we've been reading about or that the changes he brought to the human world aren't remarkable. But there are only so many words one can read and only so many lazy documentaries one can watch on this one guy. (Besides, I’ve read tens of thousands of words by writers famous, infamous and unknown, and none come closer to explaining Jobs' purpose, personality and legacy than the commencement speech that he himself delivered at Stanford University.) So, when my friend Rich sent me a link to a Steve Jobs tribute video by a magician named Paul Gertner, I will admit to a little eye-rolling – that is, until I saw the video.
  • By Ken Cancelosi
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  • November 15, 2011 4:52 AM
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  • 0 Comments

RECAP: Dexter heads over the edge

This recap contains spoilers for "Dexter" season six, episode seven; read at your own risk. Something extraordinary happened on “Dexter” this week. As Dexter split into two personas as he struggled to hang on to his remaining humanity, a show that’s been MIA suddenly reported ready for duty.
  • By Matt Zoller Seitz
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  • November 14, 2011 12:03 PM
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  • 2 Comments
More: Television

RECAP: "The Walking Dead" Season Two, episode 5, "Chupacabra."

"The Walking Dead" has craft and atmosphere; if only the characters weren't so insufferably earnest and dense. This recap contains spoilers for "The Walking Dead" Season Two, episode 5, "Chupacabra." Read at your own risk.
  • By Matt Zoller Seitz
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  • November 14, 2011 4:29 AM
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  • 0 Comments

RECAP: A bear, a baseball glove and Boardwalk Empire

“Powerful” episodes of cable dramas make a huge impression on viewers, and are often acclaimed as the best of their season. Sometimes the praise is deserved; other times it’s a reaction to the sight of characters we like being diagnosed with fatal illnesses, beaten, raped, killed, etc. Meanwhile, low-key but complex episodes often get short shrift from critics and viewers. I hope that doesn’t happen with tonight’s “Boardwalk Empire” episode, “Two Boats and a Lifeguard,” because in degree of difficulty, it’s impressive, in some ways extraordinary. As written by Terence Winter and directed by Tim Van Patten — a dynamic duo on a lot of great “Sopranos” episodes — “Two Boats and a Lifeguard” seems like just a “housekeeping” episode that’s mainly concerned with wrangling subplots and exploring characters. But as I’ll explain in a moment, the episode went way beyond that.
  • By Matt Zoller Seitz
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  • November 14, 2011 3:53 AM
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  • 0 Comments

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