Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Cyrano de Bergerac

(1950)

In 1990 Gérard Depardieu made a damn good version of this in the original French, and I sure wish I understood French. But I don’t, so the next best thing is the Brian Hooker translation. Jose Ferrer won a Tony in this role, and then went on to win the Oscar in this film. How one translates a play written in French, in a formal mode known as an Alexandrine, and preserve the beauty of the ... Read more »

Lost in Space

(2018)

Sometimes it’s a good idea to remake a classic with new technology. Sometimes it’s not. This time it is not. I think I watched maybe an episode and a half of the original series, saw that it was silly, not funny, and that was that. Just those horrible costumes would have likely been enough. I guess what everybody remembers, even someone who never watched it, like me, is the line the robot ... Read more »

The Post

(2017)

Here is a very sad one to watch. It concerns the theft by Daniel Ellsberg and publication by the New York Times of what came to be known as the Pentagon Papers. This was a massive study of the Vietnam War, commissioned by the Department of Defense and labeled Top Secret, because it revealed that Robert McNamara and others knew the war ... Read more »

The Man Who Invented Christmas

(Ireland, Canada, 2017)

Here’s one that sounded a lot better to me than it actually proved to be. Charles Dickens is in debt, and is badly blocked. His “Christmas ghost story” is not going well, and he needs a hit, because the man who is celebrated like a rock star for writing Oliver Twist has had three flops in a row and he needs the money. So he engages in imaginary conversations with ... Read more »

Lady Bird

(2017)

This year there were several movies on the Best Picture final ballot that have left me wondering, What the hell was all the fuss about? This is one of them. It is a perfectly competent coming-of-age story, and about ten minutes after watching it I had forgotten all about it. To write this review I had to look it up at Wiki and read about it again. Oh, that one! I ... Read more »

Coco

(2017)

I go into a Pixar film expecting a good film, maybe even a masterpiece, but I wasn’t prepared to start loving this one before the opening credits! No kidding, you know the traditional Disney intro where we pull back to reveal Sleeping Beauty’s castle, with fireworks exploding all around and Tinkerbell flying over it? The music behind the animation is always “When ... Read more »

Miles Ahead

(2015)

Here’s a film about Miles Davis, possibly the most innovative (along with Charlie “Bird” Parker) jazz musician ever, and it’s not really about the life of Miles. Here’s what director-writer-star Don Cheadle had to say: “The approach to the film was not to produce a biopic but to create plausible though largely fictional vignettes of Davis’ life that interpreted the creative process ... Read more »

The Commuter

(UK, USA, 2018)

Bang-bang chop-socky shoot-‘em-up pictures starring Liam Neeson, the world’s most elderly action star, can be engaging, in spite of their sheer improbability. We enjoyed Taken, because it was tense and well-made, and stayed just within the knife edge of possibility. He was 56. Then they made Taken 2, when he was 60, and it slid over ... Read more »

My Cousin Rachel

(USA, UK, 2017)

It’s from a novel by Daphne du Maurier, a novelist who I have not read. Her short story was the source material for Hitchcock’s The Birds and Rebecca. It takes place in Cornwall, at a time that is not quite specified, but I assume is the Victorian Era. It concerns the strange relationship of Rachel and young Ambrose, named Upper Class ... Read more »

Atomic Blonde

(USA, Germany, 2017)

I was in the mood for an action movie, and this one got off to a fairly good start … but then I just couldn’t take it. The level of cool was relentless and increasingly silly. Sure, I know this takes place in that James Bond fantasy world where spies are glamorous. I don’t need all my spy fiction to be like John Le Carre, where the espionage trade is revealed as what it actually is: the ... Read more »