Talking Ben Hecht

Film · Ideas & Opinion · 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

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 · Ideas & Opinion
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’

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 ...

Donald Trump’s ‘perfect call’ taps Mario Puzo playbook

Film · Ideas & Opinion
From the Zelensky call transcript: July 2019 telcon Donald Trump to President Zelensky of Ukraine

Bienvenue, COLCOA 2019!

Les Miserables (2019) director Ladj Ly Our yearly reminder that life is worth living — because the French are still making movies — arrives Monday, Sept 23, 2019. That’s when the 22nd annual COLCOA French Film Festival pops the cork not on Prosecco, not on Cava nor sparkling wine, but real Champagne. It happens at ...

Gwen & Bob make personal appearance — as Michelle & Sam

Dance · Film
It was delightful to see, appearing in person, Michelle Williams and Sam Rockwell at a special screening event held on the erstwhile Twentieth Century-Fox lot (soon Disney). The duo, emitting body language that indicated real closeness, participated in a q&a session that celebrated FOSSE/VERDON’s many nominations for Emmy Awards — a whopping seventeen. The August ...

Dig it! Betty Grable in ‘Diga Diga Do’ 1

Dance · Film
A fabulous YouTube find, a compendium of song-and-dance numbers performed by Betty Grable, in 1954, during a live television broadcast: the premier edition of Chrysler “Shower of Stars” on CBS. Opening the video is Grable in a sizzling demonstration of how song and dance were integrated during the period — in “Diga Do,” a specialty ...