Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Oscar Wilde

(UK, 1960)

The story of Oscar Wilde is one of the great tragedies of the Victorian age. He was homosexual (a word never actually uttered in this film, though we hear of “The love that dare not speak its name”) though able to function as a straight man, fathering two sons. He was the greatest wit of the times, endlessly quotable today. He wrote short fiction, the best known being Read more »

Hiroshima

(1995)

I’ve never seen a docudrama quite like this one, but I’d like to see more. It blends both black and white and rare color film from the World War II archives with staged material almost seamlessly. It tells the story not of the making of the Bomb, which I’ve seen many times before in films like Fat Man and Little Boy and many straight documentaries, but the story ... Read more »

The Shape of Water

(2017)

So I popped the Best Picture of 2017 DVD into the player and sat back, thinking, Okay, can you show me a woman fucking a fish and not make me laugh? The answer was, Yes. But sadly, the answer to the question of Can you make me believe in a woman fucking a fish was, No. I tried and I tried to really like this film, since it Read more »

The Alienist

(2018)

Taken from a best-selling book by Caleb Carr which I haven’t read but which Lee enjoyed. It is a ten-episode series from TNT. It is 1896 in New York City. Before there were psychiatrists as such, people who studied the make-up of the mind were known as alienists. The story here is the quest by the fictional Dr. Laszlo Kreizler to track down a serial killer who is maiming poor street ... Read more »

The Florida Project

(2017)

Sean Baker, the writer-director, wanted to draw attention to what is called the “invisible homeless.” That means people who are not actually living on the street, but in budget motels. They have a roof over their heads, running water (and, often, running bedbugs), and a place to take a dump, but are only a week away from homelessness. Some of these children are growing up in the mighty ... Read more »

The Frankenstein Chronicles

(UK, 2015)

This British ITV series easily sustained us through two six-episode series, the second one coming in 2017. It seems unlikely there will be a third, as things wrap up pretty neatly at the end. I will issue a SPOILER WARNING, because at the end of the first series there is a considerable surprise.

The premise is a good one. It is 1837 and William IV is dying, soon to make way for ... Read more »

Baby Driver

(2017)

Like so many action movies these days, it got off to a good start, and then succumbed to the worst of the action film stuff. The best thing about it is the driving, which was largely done in real life and in real time. There is a making-of documentary on the DVD that shows how a lot of it was done. I can also give a shout-out to the fact that not everything ... Read more »

The Candidate

(1972)

Is there any field of human endeavor where the bullshit is piled deeper and higher than a political campaign? I don’t think so, and I include cattle feedlots. This film pretty much stunned me when it first came out, and I know I wasn’t alone. Back in 1968 we had all talked about being “Clean for Gene!”, meaning Eugene McCarthy, or had high hopes for George McGovern. Remember him? The ... Read more »

Notes From the Field

(2018)

I don’t really know much about Anna Deavere Smith, except that she played a hospital administrator in Nurse Jackie. This is a filming of her one-woman stage show where she dramatized what she calls the school-to-prison pipeline, where poor young black kids seem to have little or no choices in what happens in their lives. I don’t entirely buy the premise, but I ... Read more »

Ghost (2nd review)

(1990)

It’s just gotta be way up there on the list of best romantic dramas ever. I think it’s one of the hardest genres to get right, and this movie does everything right. That thing they call chemistry in the movies is actually pretty hard to quantify. You can’t really define it, but you know it when you see it. It is when the male and female ... Read more »