Agnes Varda smiles. So does Ava DuVernay. 2

Film
One of the most prodigious female artists of our lifetime, the fanciful, thought-provoking, highly humane and feminist filmmaker, Agnès Varda (1928 – 2019), received kudos, a showering of affection, and shared solace over her recent death Saturday at ARRAY360. The rich film festival, which took place at the superlative cinema-campus founded in Echo Park by ...

Farruquito, flamenco master, brings troupe to The Soraya

Dance · Film · Music
Juan Manuel Fernandez Montoya, aka Farruquito Ed. note: This article was commissioned and first published by The Soraya. It is reprinted on artsmeme with permission. The brilliance was there from the start. At age 11, Juan Manuel Fernández Montoya, the reigning superstar of flamenco who performs under the sobriquet of Farruquito, appeared in Carlos Saura’s ...

Dame Helen rules, in new HBO drama “Catherine the Great”

Film
The face that launched a thousand ships. Good old Helen! Wait, wait … that was Helen of Troy. Our Helen, Dame Helen Mirren, equally regal as squired by her husband, the director Taylor Hackford, looked simply spectacular in an ensemble custom-designed by Badgely Mischka for a launch party for her new miniseries, “Catherine the Great.” ...

‘Refugee’ short film depicts Syrian calamity thru intimate saga

Film
by 
At a time when Syria is sadly once again at the top of the news, a short film that hopes to compete in this year’s Oscar race takes on added poignancy and relevance. Refugee is an exceptionally well made offering that highlights the plight of the thousands who fled Syria during the earlier humanitarian crisis. ...

Talking Ben Hecht

Film · Language & ideas · Reviews
One of the greatest American screenwriters, Ben Hecht was a renaissance man of dazzling sorts—reporter, novelist, playwright, crusader for the imperiled Jews of Hitler’s Europe, and propagandist for pre-1948 Palestine’s Jewish terrorist underground. He was also a balletomane and auteur (wrote, produced and directed) the ballet-noir, Specter of the Rose (1946). Whatever the outrage he ...

Space is the place, Americans

Film
natalie in the sky with diamonds Is Donald Trump president of outer space? No? Well, then, I’d like to go there immediately. Thanks to Hollywood, we have a few options. I enjoyed the new Natalie Portman movie, Lucy in the Sky, about a female astronaut who in observing that “space is so big and we ...

Written woman-to-woman: Hedda to Hepburn

Film · Language & ideas
Citing her “gaity,” “gallantry,” and, oddly enough, her “gentlemanly way of expressing” herself, this fan mail from columnist Hedda Hopper to actress Katharine Hepburn is part of a treasure trove, a just-published compendium of personal communiques from-and-to the film industry … Letters from Hollywood: Inside the Private World of Classic American Moviemaking. Basically, Hopper, consciously ...

Our good luck! 13 years of ‘German Currents’

Film
What is the German word for cinephile? “Cinephile”! Germany has its own illustrious film culture and history, with a lineage of giants bearing names like F.W. Mureau, Fritz Lang, Ernst Lubitsch, Max Ophuls in the realm of classic cinema. Subsequent key names include Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, Volker Schlöndorff, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Werner Herzog, Tom ...

Merce’s marvelous movie

Dance · Film
Seen yesterday in Cunningham, the new Merce Cunningham documentary shot in 3-D by writer/director Alla Kovgan: imagery and brief excepts from “Summerspace,” the choreographer’s legendary ‘no-center’ ballet dating from 1958 and performed in Robert Rauschenberg’s pointillist costumes/decor to music by Morton Feldman. The film, which may bring the rarefied artist his most widespread exposure with ...

‘Judy was not nasal,’ says vocal coach Bob Garrett

Film · Music
Does Zellweger, at right, convey Garland’s physical stance to your eye? Garland kept her body taut to channel her breath. Also, note the shape of Renee’s mouth. Drop that jaw, sister! Viewing the big new biopic, JUDY, which opens tomorrow in cinemas, I did not feel that Renee Zellweger caught the great Garland’s essence particularly ...